Well, we survived our first weekend in Amsterdam. Even though nothing went as planned, we still managed to have a good time and find some entertaining things to do. Since we had both been to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh previously, I wanted to see the third major art gallery that hosts all of the modern works.
We set out late Saturday morning and decided to give the tram a try. The tram stop is just in front of our block of buildings and the #9 goes all the way to Centraal and passes most of the major sites on the way. We found it to be convenient, clean, and the conductors were very helpful. We road all the way to Centraal Station where we purchased our ‘strippenkarts’ for discounted future tram rides.
We decided to take the scenic route to walk to the museum quarter. When we finally arrived at our destination we discovered that it was closed … until May, for renovations. So much for that idea. We decided to hunt down some food and regroup so we hit the Leidseplein, a major tourist spot with lots of restaurants and shops primarily catering to tourists.
Our meal at the pancake house was rather uninspired but it filled us up. Since we were running short of time (most things in Holland close at 5 except on Thursdays when they are open until 9) we decided to be true tourists and partake in the Heineken Experience.
The former brewery has been made into a tourist attraction. It takes you on a tour of the beer making process (a feeble attempt at getting you to learn something before getting sloshed on free beer at the end of the tour.) It was cheesy but entertaining and Andrew enjoyed some beer (me not so much).
In front of the brewery we met Kate, a former New Hampshire resident now working for a comedy troupe called Boom Chicago. She convinced us to head back to the Leidseplein and see the dinner show. The troupe is made up of Americans who alternate between scripted routines (generally bashing Americans and the Dutch) and improv. It was well worth the cover price and despite being crammed in like sardines between two Dutch couples, we had a great time.
Sunday I had big plans to go to Artis, Amsterdam’s zoo complex, the oldest in the country. The rain had something to say about that. (Side bar, not expecting any sympathy here but it rains at some point every freakin’ day!)
We decided instead to go to Rembrandt house. Although there are few of his paintings here, as most are in the Rijksmuseum, there is a huge collection of prints by Rembrandt and other famous artists that he collected. You also get to see his house and studio. We found it quite interesting (although Andrew feels that modern art is ‘crap’ so it’s probably good that the Modern Art museum is closed. Bill did you teach this boy nothing??)
After Rembrandt house we went for a bit of a wander and found ourselves in Chinatown (should be Asian town really). We went to an Asian grocery and bought some goodies and then found a nice Thai restaurant for an early supper. The food was good and there were no fries in sight. Then we headed back to the tram with a quick stop at Gall & Gall (a liquor store chain) and picked up some wine (at 6 euros for the good stuff, I’m quickly becoming a wino). We called it an early night and watched a movie. Tomorrow the cable guy arrives to install our internet connection so hopefully this blog will be on-line shortly.