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May 27, 2014

Market day on Wagenaarstrat.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Yesterday evening, with the generous help of some friendly Hollanders, we rode the airport train to Muiderpoort station and walked to our new Airbnb flat on Wagenaarstraat. We were met by our hostess, who explained that except for her office, the place was all ours – kitchen, bed, and bath. On her departure, we quickly fell asleep.


Bedroom and kitchen.

Today, not so much sightseeing, mostly admin stuff. Dropped off laundry, got new phone SIM card, did some basic grocery shopping, changed our pounds for Euros, bought six-day passes for the Metro, bought maps, and tried to get a better picture of Amsterdam. Got wet, too. Rain forecasted thru Thursday.

Javastraat, the neighborhood shopping street, a block away.

Centraal Station. We ate at a Burger King there.

Centraal station restroom. Once I got back to the flat I googled about the Schiphol urinals, and found that they were not unknown. Apparently, giving guys something to aim for makes for a cleaner floor. Tower of London, take note.

I don’t know, it just looked interesting.

We wrapped up the day at Thai Tiger, our hostess’ recommendation. Ours too, now,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The rawness in my throat that I felt last night has developed into something more definite, so we spent the day at home, mostly. I caught up on the blog and read some. Peggy went out to clear up a phone misunderstanding, and asked the guy about me seeing a doctor. He called the hospital for us and Peggy talked to the rep, who said a visit would be €150, plus some additional charges made to our insurance carrier. Peggy bought home some veggies, which she cooked and combined with leftovers from last night for a very nice meal.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Out sick.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

In the pharmacy.

By this morning, I finally got sick enough of being sick that I poked around on the ‘net and found a place called Expat Medical Centre (“Don’t spend your time in Amsterdam sick.”, or something. I made an appointment, our host called us a taxi, and within an hour (and €90 later) I had a prescription for my respiratory ailment in hand and we were headed for a local pharmacy. Thank you, Dr. Cambridge!


The doctor’s office overlooked Prinzengracht, one of the canals that form concentric rings around the city, and here are a couple of houseboats, one traditional, and one with a take on the suburban ranch house.

One of the many Delftware shops.

A restaurant called Envy. We didn’t eat there.

Since it was early in the day, we thought we’d check out the Van Gogh Museum, but when we saw the line outside, in the cold and drizzle, we decided that was no place for someone in my condition, and we returned to the warmth of our apartment.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Amsterdam is a very bike-friendly city, with bicycle lanes on almost every street, and people use them.

With a little medicine in my veins, I felt chipper enough to venture out, so we headed for our main objective in town, the Rijksmuseum.

The museum had been famously shut down for renovation for ten years, only opening its doors about a year ago in April. One of the more obvious touches is an enclosure for its courtyard.

Restaurant above, shop below. We ate at the cafe. Food good, prices reasonable.

Photography (non-flash) was permitted, but with the collection so well documented elsewhere, I preferred to take pictures of people taking pictures of pictures, like this crowd surrounding Rembrandt’s famous “Night Watch”…

…and someone snapping Vermeer’s “Woman in Blue Reading a Letter.”

The museum’s collection is huge, taking up four floors. We spent all our time there on the fourth, which covered the golden age of Dutch painting – Rembrandt and his contemporaries. My favorite painter, Franz Hals, was represented there, but more can be found at the Franz Hals Museum in nearby Haarlem, where Hals worked and died. Not near enough, alas, for our limited time.

Amsterdam’s tourist machinery is sponsoring something called “I Amsterdam”, with the “I Am” part spelled out in red. Here, a rear view of a gathering in the Museumplein, a square uniting the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk, Amsterdam’s museum of modern art.

What, I ask, is a trip to Holland without a picture of cheese wheels?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

…and even more cheese, from a street market near our flat. To our great regret, we had no Dutch cheese during our visit.

Today is our last full day in town, and we’re off to the Van Gogh Museum.

On our way, we pass by a coffee shop. Not by any means to be confused with Starbucks, this is one of Amsterdam’s many heart-warming efforts to reach out to the pot-smoking tourist trade. Needless to say, my ongoing recovery from my respiratory problem precluded taking part in the Main Event, so an actual visit seemed pointless.

How do you give a cardiologist a heart attack?

In line at the Van Gogh Museum, definitely 21st-Century.

First stop, the restroom, and another addition to my collection of Functional Art. So clever!

Coffee and rolls in the museum cafe.

In contrast to the relatively easygoing attitude at the Rijksmuseum, entrance to the Van Gogh collection strongly resembled airport security, complete with conveyor belt and X-ray scanner. I had to leave my trusty pocketknife with my backpack in the checkroom.

Along with its collection of Van Gogh paintings, the museum, like many (all?) others, also hosts a Special Exhibition, this one of Felix Valleton, one of the short-lived group of artists known as the Nabis.

(I should say that, after taking the two shots above, I found that photography is not allowed.) The museum is built around a central open core, with paintings displayed on the surrounding walls. The bulk of the collection is shown chronologically, but there are also displays explaining Van Gogh’s painting tools, the makeup of oil paints, etc. Of course there are many fine works on display here, but the fact that even such a relatively small building can’t fill itself with Van Gogh’s artwork makes me suspect that most of his oeuvre is now dispersed into the world at large.

Once out of the museum, we walked out onto the grass behind the Museumplein. Here, a view of the Stedelijk, with its new addition, which locals call The Bathtub. On a raked lawn in front, people soak up the first sunny weather in days. We looked through the Stedelijk bookshop, just inside, but figured that there wasn’t enough time left to justify the €15 entrance fee.

Just across Van Baerlestraat, opposite the Museumplein, the Concertgebouw (Concert Hall). Recordings its resident orchestra are well-known to music lovers the world over.

Of course, no visit to Amsterdam, perhaps the most liberal city in the world, is complete without a picture of a man walking down the street in a penis costume. Some of our fellow tram residents surmised that he was the guest of honor at a bachelor party, of which this walk, beer in hand, was a prerequisite.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Light lunch in the Schiphol food court.

This morning we got up early, boarded the train at Muiderpoort station, got off at Schiphol, and boarded an Air Europa flight to Madrid.

Stay tuned.


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