Our second stop on our Netherlands tour was to Amsterdam. We took a train over from Rotterdam. First of all, the Amsterdam train station is very architecturally impressive and is in the Dutch Neo-Renaissance style (according to my guidebook). It was built on a series of artificial islands and has over 8,500 wooden piles for support underneath.
The first attraction of the day was to the Van Gogh museum. We got there early to beat some of the crowds (though it was still pretty busy, even at 9:30am). The museum is located in a district with a few other museums (the Rijksmuseum and Stedlijk). We chose the Van Gogh because of the man. We took the “multimedia tour” (with audio guide on an iPod touch-like device with interactive elements) and were fascinated with the stories of the artist’s life. And yes, there was a whole wall dedicated to the ear incident! Reini took note of a couple prints to consider buying for his office.
We stopped for lunch at a bagel sandwich place (mmmm) and then wandered about a bit through the canal lined streets. We strolled through the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market), admiring their offerings, though I had plans to buy a bunch the next day. 🙂 In the afternoon we took a canal tour (because you just have to when you’re in Amsterdam). We found all the house boats docked in the canals to be really interesting. They’re real, fairly permanent houses that are totally floating. Funny story – one man refused to pay attention to all the canal cruise tourists that pass by his home. It was laundry day as evidenced by his line hanging all his clothes… and by the fact that he didn’t have any pants on. That’s Amsterdam for ya.
To get process the sights that we saw on the canal cruise (and to hide from a rain shower) we stopped at a cafe. Man oh man I wish I remembered the name of that place because I had the most incredible sticky toffee pudding and Reini loved his carrot cake. We sat happily out front, watching an older man try to parallel park along the canal. (Note, there seem to not be any guard rails or even stones of any sort to prevent cars from falling down into the water below). We stayed until a bit past dinner time so we could catch some of the evening sights. Then we hopped on the slowest train in the world back to Rotterdam.