Sunday, 11 May 2014


I am getting very behind on these so maybe need to shorten them a bit. We are having a great time with so much to do!

We completed the river cruise in Amsterdam. Sailing the last bit was rather dull, both weather and sights as we entered the main shipping areas and competed with barges carrying up to 72 containers. Yikes! Eventually we docked and were off on our last day of sightseeing. We chose a bus and canal boat trip with a bit of a stop for free time right in the historic area.

First a canal cruise, battling with a closed roof and rain to get any photos. In general the gorgeous Dutch architecture with tall, narrow houses with stepped or curved gables, multiple bikes at every available place, including bike parking stations floating on the canals, houseboats licenced by the city and pretty bridges that lifted or curved.

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Bike parking barge
Houseboat with garden
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Bridge pier
Van Gogh type bridge
Nemo museum
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Seven bridges in a row
Then we were dropped at the floating flower market, multiple shops stocking both tulip bulbs and huge bunches of tulips, 30 for E8 plus multiple other plants for window boxes and gardens. I don’t think Australian quarantine would be amused if I brought them back and I didn’t really want to carry them for 9 weeks anyway.

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Backs of the floating markets
A bus trip followed around the major sights. The traffic in Amsterdam is horrendous; un-coordinated traffic lights meant we stopped every 100 metres or so. It helped somewhat to orient us to the city but the only thing I clearly remember was the windmill a little outside the centre. Oh dear! It was a night to pack and say farewells.
Well, it fined up for a bit
Thatch on the windmill looks a bit like a face

Off the boat at about 9am in grey and windy drizzle, to our B&B room overlooking a canal on the edge of the red light district. It was an excellent location for sightseeing, getting the laundry done and finding reasonable meals. Breakfast was brought to the door in a hamper and was more than adequate and host David was very helpful.

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View from our window
The highlights, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. We arrived early to the Rijksmuseum in steady rain and more or less went straight in. The crowds inside were totally unregulated and clustered in tour groups in front of the major works for long periods. We never did get close to the Vermeers. The Rembrants were magnificent and the detail in The Night Watch and similar were extraordinary. How to get that much shine on satin or filigree on lace? As we left the queues, even for ticket holders, were lengthy and well out into the rain.

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Detail “Night Watch”
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Detail “The Jewish Bride”
Rijks library
The library of the museum: a work of art in itself
This was our experience the next day for van Gogh. We stuck it out and got inside to fine a surprising gallery, full of detail and curatorial aspects as well as the art. Like the Irises should be purple and yellow, not blue and yellow. His red pigments faded really fast so purples became blues. Alas, no photos allowed.

We saw a few ladies in their windows which I hated. Didn’t try the coffee shops. Despaired at the groups of hens and stags rowdying through the streets, had a few good meals including Dutch asparagus, huge white stalks with egg dressing, exceptionally tender and tasty. Didn’t get to the Keukenhof Gardens because of the rain so no fields of tulips, though they would have been mostly finished anyway.

Verdict: Interesting and some major highlights, but wet and cold and bad for Nick’s chest. Sorry Amsterdam!

Next stop: Belgium

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