Museumnaacht, and the epic journey home.

Amsterdam Travel Blog

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Art with me in it at Energetica.

Museumnaacht is an absolutely fantastic idea.  40 museums across Amsterdam open their doors to you, and some very interesting types of performance art, music and activities, until 2am.  The ticket cost me about 16€ in advance and entitles you to free transport all night, including on the boats, and one more entrance to one of the museums over the next month.  This makes it really good value.  The festival makes it very clear that it has a core audience of local people in mind, and so is quite open about not publishing the programme in English.  Having said that, the website does offer links to amsterdamweekly.nl which publishes English Language advice, and my Dutch reading has got to the stage where I could make educated guesses about what I wanted to do.

As far as I can tell, the multistory bike park by the station

Unfortunately, I was so excited about going out at night that I forgot my camera.  Until I figure out how to get this computer to accept my phone's software, then there won't be any photos.  I also lost my scarf earlier in the day, which has made me briefly very sad indeed because it was my second favorite scarf ever and it'll be years before I go back to Madrid.  But other than that, I was all set.

When I decided where to go, I had two real criteria - I wanted to try molecular cookery snacks at NEMO and I wanted to go to places where I wouldn't normally go.  Other than that, there was sinply too much going on to make sane choices.  So I went to NEMO first.

This was a poor decision.  It hadn't occured to me that the 19.

a machine in Energetica, possibly a generator, but it looks like a dalek to me.
00 start time would mean many, many children were still out.  And unfortunately, the woman in front of me at the molecular cookery stand was in charge of - no exageration here - 10 children all wanting to try the same desert that I wanted.  So I will probably never get to taste strawberry icecream with corriander snow.  To my shame, I gave up and got the smoking champagne cocktail instead.  But it was smoking like a potion in an old horror film, so that was cool too.  And there weren't ten overexcited children in front of me in that line.  After that, all the children were watching a demonstration of cause and effect involving all sorts of giant dominos and stuff, and I went and pressed all the buttons in the science displays.  This was great.
Me, looking uncharacteristically terrifying, in the soap bubble snow in the Biblical museum
  I love pressing buttons.  I made a solar dragonfly fly, dammed a fake river, looked at some weird things in jars, and listened to dance music on the roof for a while before moving on.  I feel like I saw enough of the permanent collection to write a proper review, so watch out for that later.

The I walked to Engergetica, wasting a lot of time getting lost on the way.  Energetica is the museum of electric stuff, which normally wouldn't be all that interesting to me, although if you are a Dutch speaker who likes big machines and old lifts (elevators), you'd love it.  But on this night, it was home to a DJ and two people in labcoats taking photos of you and then waving flourescent tubes with motion pick ups around to colour you in.

Biblical museum
  When I can get the photos uploaded there's an ace one I took of the photo they took of me all coloured in on the massive screens.  There's also something very sinister and beautiful about massive generators and escalators lit up with stage lights and accompanied by dance music.  I half expected to be attacked by a Dalek.  But for a machine museum, surprisingly few buttons to press.   I 'think - given the huge dancefloor in the middle - it was another museum I should have left to the end of the evening.  But I didn't, and as it is, it was kind of enchanting.  The verdict?  Go there if there's dance music.  Probably don't when there isn't.  I'm glad I went.

I walked past Hortus and decided that the queues were far too long for me.

The lamp by the boat stop
  The next museum I sort of bumped into was the Hermitage.  I'm going to put a review up for it too, because I saw quite a lot of their current exhibition.  I'd have seen more if Mr Incredibly Tall Drunk Guy hadn't spent so much time in front of me.  Mr Guy, if you're reading this, you are very, very tall indeed.  A little consideration for those of us who can't see the vases from above would have been welcome!  But the Hermitage also offered reasonably priced, absolutely heavenly, amazingly good onion soup.  And when I was there, two women doing a sort of strange cabaret act, which involved standing in Art Deco era clothes, singing old songs (I don't know if they were Art Deco era or not, but now I've heard the tom-A-to, to-mah-to song right through.
View from the museum boat
  The jokes  don't work if you can't actually pronounce the difference between British and US English!) and playing an electric guitar, and something that looked a bit like a viola with a really long neck, but sounded like a guitar.  Any ideas anyone?  

I was determined to take the boat, as it was free, but by this point it was 11pm and I was getting quite sleepy.  I get sleepy early when I'm out on my own, and I wanted to leave before I was grumpy and miserable, so I had a long debate with myself about where to go next.  I'd settled on taking myself to the Rijksmuseum, which is huge but had a chocolate fountain, but was grumbling about it to myself because I'd walked for miles and - well, you get the picture.

Champagne at NEMO. That's dry ice smoke, by the way, and not the head!
  Then the boat man announced that we were at the stop before the Rijksmuseum, which was the stop for the Biblical museum.  I remembered that they were singing carols and that they were also having snow at midnight, and thinking that logically I would probably go back to the Rijksmuseum but not to the Biblical one, I disembarked.

The biblical museum is not what I was expecting.  I had a sort of snobbish expectation of a diarama of the temple mount (in fairness, there is a model of the temple mount too!) and some old editions of the gospels (um, which there are).  But the museum is also host to some contemporary art, currently the winners of a competition-or-something based on the theme of "I am a stranger on Earth."  Some of that was gorgeous.

Outside Nemo
  There were some displays on Islam and Judaism, and a multimedia presentation on the same theme that I didn't go to because I was still wandering around being a stranger on earth.  Sometimes, it's great to be wrong.

The snow was made of soap bubbles.  It was magical.  I loved it.

But I was very tired after that, and I wanted to go home whilst I was still happy.  And that was the start of the epic journey home.  The boats were meant to run every ten minutes, and I had checked with the man on the boat when I got off at the Biblical Museum and he said that that was true til 2am.  So I waited for the boat to come back, and it took 35 minutes.  It was driven - I refuse to dignify it with a more boat-y term - by the worst waterybus driver in the history of canal boats.

Inside Nemo
  He made an absolute fuss of manoevering under every single bridge, backing and reving the engine, and then seemed to want to run on silent for the space between the bridges; I wondered, in my sleepy and slightly tipsy state, if perhaps he was trying to avoid torpedo fire from an imaginary subcanal boat, and amused myself by trying to imagine what a canal submarine would look like if it wasn't imaginary.  The journey at this point was salvaged by a friendly guy called Marco who showed me a really cool little statue of a guy.  It's in a tree opposite the Holland Casino, and the little man is standing on the branch of a tree sawing it off.  No, I wasn't imagining it.  It's there.  The subcanal boat is imaginary, the little guy is real.
The big cause and effect demo
  Or at least a real fake little guy.

Eventually, having missed the 1.17 train which I could have got if I'd walked from the museum, but having had quite a pleasant canalboat drive even despite the awful driver, we got to centraal station.  The awful boat guy let us off the boat by crashing it loudly into the side of the canal and putting the engine in reverse whilst we all jumped off, and I went to shiver in the station until the 2.17 arrived.  Luckily, that was only about a 30 minute wait.  I'm British - I'm just greatful there was a train at all.

And then the train did a very, very British thing.  It stopped.  In the middle of nowhere.  A little while later it started, got as far as Utrecht Zuillen, and stopped again.

solar dragonfly
  Luckily, we weren't in Britain, which meant that there were warm buses to Utrecht Centraal waiting for us and we didn't have to do any more shivering. 

As we got to Utrecht, I noticed that the road between the station and my house had been cordoned off by the police.  I had to walk the long way home.  Having left the Biblical museum at 12.10 to go home early, I got in at 3.30am.  Next time, I'm going to stay out late on purpose - at least then there will have been a point to the exercise!  If only they sold Irn Bru in the Netherlands...

The next day was a total wash out.  I did a little shopping, complained to myself that my legs hurt, bought myself noodles for tea, and had an early night.  I'm still tired.

But it really was an ace weekend, and if you can make it next year, then you definately should.  just book a room somewhere!

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Art with me in it at Energetica.
Art with me in it at Energetica.
As far as I can tell, the multisto…
As far as I can tell, the multist…
a machine in Energetica, possibly …
a machine in Energetica, possibly…
Me, looking uncharacteristically t…
Me, looking uncharacteristically …
Biblical museum
Biblical museum
The lamp by the boat stop
The lamp by the boat stop
View from the museum boat
View from the museum boat
Champagne at NEMO.  Thats dry ice…
Champagne at NEMO. That's dry ic…
Outside Nemo
Outside Nemo
Inside Nemo
Inside Nemo
The big cause and effect demo
The big cause and effect demo
solar dragonfly
solar dragonfly
soap snow
soap snow
Escalator.  Cool!
Escalator. Cool!
Amsterdam Sights & Attractions review
The Hermitage is the world famous museum of St Petersburg. because of the size of its collection, it can't show everything at once, so it has opened … read entire review
Amsterdam Sights & Attractions review
NEMO is a science centre, aiming at an audience of children. It is also host to a city beach in summer, and there is a great view from the roof. N… read entire review
Amsterdam
photo by: pearcetoyou