My top five Amsterdam highlights

I want to start writing this blog with the words “Poor Tish”. Not that Tish deserves my pity (twice now she’s seen the Northern Lights so I double hate her) but some unfortunate misadministration laid ruin to her plans to visit Amsterdam earlier this month. Amsterdam was a city alive to me, it was as if the city fed from the people who visited her- every footstep quickened the pulse, every heart beat drew new breath and energy. I’m sorry you missed it Tish, if it’s any consolation (impossible), I’ll attempt to round up some of the errant memories from our short time in the city.

The Heineken Museum: A beer for breakfast

I don’t often have beer for breakfast (I am out of my twenties) but I suppose an exception should be made when visiting the Heineken Brewery and going on the Heineken Experience. Happy, friendly Amsterdonians (yes, I’ve decided that is a better name than calling them Dutch) greeted Husband and I and explained all sorts of wonderful things to us about the history of the brewery and the beer (of course I blame the beer for not being able to remember all of it).

I Amsterdam Sign

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I AM…

On this point I feel like I should write a book. I shall name it “How to be a stupid tourist” and I shall love it with all my heart. I do believe that part of being a tourist (or a stupid one) is being a tourist. I get that we all want to explore something off the beaten track and I love getting lost in an unfamiliar city just to experience something that the travel books didn’t write about. The travel books, for instance, did not prepare me for being the navigator in Florence with my map held upside down for all but the last day and that yielded the most specular results (read pizza). But sometimes, I believe there is a reason why the road well-travelled is well, well-travelled. And seriously, if you can’t be a stupid tourist, then we may as well all just stay indoors.

If you’re interested, here are some pictures below that are decidedly un- touristy.

Van Gogh Museum: An ear for an eye

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A sneaky picture of Van Gogh’s easel taken before I realised photographs weren’t allowed

Now, before you think I’m all cultured and stuff please note that the next museum I write about is the prostitute one and I rank it almost as highly as the Van Gogh Museum. I’ve never really been a proponent of “the arts”, blame it on Bantu Education or the fact that I think beauty lies in everything, not just the objects we place exorbitant price tags on but I confess to having a limited understanding or appreciation of art. With that being said, I must also admit to having thoroughly enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum. Perhaps it was because the entire museum told one story; that of Van Gogh’s life, maybe it was because the museum was so quiet and peaceful that I could aimless wander around, taking my time at each piece if I desired. Of all the museums I’ve visited this ranks as my favourite.

Prostitute museum: How to be a successful prostitute

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A proper how to guide at the Prostitute Museum in Amsterdam

Knowing that Amsterdam is famous world over for the red-light district is vastly different compared to seeing it for yourself. The concept and idea of prostitution coupled with seeing the women in well light booths along the street filled me with a sadness so profound it was palpable. I stumbled into the museum part by accident and part to seek refuge from the onslaught to my senses. There was plenty to shock and stun at the museum but the one thing that stays with me, that probably will always stay with me, is the pictures taken by a research student showing the inside of many prostitute’s rooms in Amsterdam. So many of the rooms had a childlike innocence to them, that I couldn’t help wonder what these women were trying to recapture.

Lights Festival: I do believe they shine for me

Once a year around Christmas, Amsterdam hosts a Lights Festival and last year, Husband and I merrily boarded the vessel that would take us careening through the canals to see the light work on display. I could see the cold winter night air near herself to the light structures, reaching out a hand, not menacing, but rather as if to warm herself by what radiated within. The tour guide speaks of a myth that promises eternal love to the one you kiss while passing under a canal. I turn to Husband scrunching up my nose, puckering my lips and making kissy sounds as enticement and he responds by almost falling off his seat in an attempt to get away from me shouting “You can’t trick me”. I’m not sure he understands the point of marriage.

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