A Day in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Travel Blog

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The Red Light District with Susie's Saloon in the background!

We're in a train on the way from The Hague to Amsterdam.  We stop at Leiden which is another place that I would like to see.  The trip is pretty uneventful, relaxing even until we have an incident in our car, when a woman started to shout at some young people sitting not far from us...   It had to do with being quiet.  I just noticed that we're in a car with "silence" "stillte" printed on all of the windows.  I guess this is a silence car.  I didn't know that such a thing existed!    Actually, just about everyone in the car, Sue and I included were talking a little, but I think the only ones this lady felt comfortable with screaming at were the young ones, who, I should add, were amazingly respectful and polite.

Arrival at the train station in Amsterdam
  Anyhow, she managed to get all of us to be quiet with her outburst!  At least for a while.  But then more people came in and began to talk even more loudly!  I thought she was really going to lose it!!  I understand about no smoking, no food, whatever... but no talking?  ok, I guess you can take a nap on the way to work that way! 

The day is warm and the Sun pops out from behind the clouds once in a while.  It's a nice day for some exploring.  Still, even with the ocassional sunshine, it's pretty gray.  There are some Elders from the Mormon Church sitting close to us.  I wonder how long they stay over here, exactly what they do, how people react to them... 

When we arrived at the train station we headed out into the city and began to walk towards the center.

  This is a fantastic place with people everywhere - people from all over the place!  A great place for some people watching. Some were even oddly disturbing! Like a guy with dozens of piercings and tattoos all over his face. 

The Begijnhof.  One of the first places that we stopped in to see is called the Begijnhof.  I had been here with my friend Eduardo a couple years ago and was happy to see it again.  This group of homes surrounding a peaceful, green courtyard was originally built in 1346 as a sanctuary for the Beguines who were pious, unmarried Catholic women who performed good works, like nuns, but did not want to live in a convent and therefore had not taken any vows.  The original houses do not remain.

  Most of the structures date from the 17th and 18th centuries except for one, wooden house which originates from the second half of the 15th century.  I was surprised to read that the last Beguine passed away in 1971 and that still only women reside in the courtyard.  The courtyard was given to the Begijnhof Foundation in 1987 and they rent the homes out to 93 women.  A visit to this courtyard is something not to miss in Amsterdam.  It allows you to leave the bustle of the city behind and, for a moment, it can feel as though you have gone back in time.  The church in the courtyard is a Gothic structure.  Once we were leaving, I saw a sign saying that  you're not supposed to take pictures there...  Sorry!  I didn't see it on time.

We wandered all over the city, along the canals, taking lots of pictures and stopping here and there to look in an interesting shop.

  We bought some public transportation passes so that we could move around more easily - and being on the trams gave us a chance to sit down for a few minutes!  We made our way to Vondelpark which is really nice at this time of year with lots of trees in bloom and then to the Van Gogh Museum.  When I was in Amsterdam before I didn't manage to visit this museum and I wanted to see it.  Actually I've wanted to visit this museum since the first time I heard of it.  The museum opened in 1973 and is home to 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of Van Gogh's letters.  This was a great chance to learn more about this artist and be able to see how his work evolved during his short life.

A coffee was a good idea after the museum, so we had one and made our way to the main square where a amusement park attractions had been installed.

  Some of these rides are awesome.  There was a kind of enormous bungie jumping ride where you are harnessed into a ball and the ball is sling-shot on elastic cords and then bounces up and down for quite a while.  I kinda wanted to try it.  We had a freshly made caramel waffle there.  It was delicious.

The Red Light District.  After watching people on fun rides and eating our waffle, we headed over to check out the red light district.  Interesting.  I'd seen it before, but it doesn't cease to surprise me to see hundreds of women there, in their little shop windows.  It was a busy afternoon / evening for them.  Some of the streets are narrower than the hall in your house and were packed with people walking through, slowly, to check out what's available!  We followed a group of tourists.

  It was funny to see this mixture of young horny guys, old horny guys, occasional elderly couples walking hand in hand and other random tourists just checking out this famous site. 

The Sun was setting as we walked through the Red Light district.  There is an interesting contrast between the quaint Dutch neighborhood as a background and the scantily clad prostitutes in the small garish red store windows as the focal point.  The streets just go on and on and on.  The later it got, the more people showed up.  It was like market day in a village!  We finally ducked into the metro to escape the crowd. Thousands of people jammed in to so little space!  The Metro took us to the Central Station but we stayed on and headed away from the center towards a sleepier part of town.

Begijnhof. This courtyard is from the 17th and 18th century. Only one older house (from the 2nd half of the 15th century) remains.
  Somehow we made our way to where we are now, eating dinner at a restaurant called "The Green Elephant" close to Alexanderplein.  The food is really good and it's nice to sit down after a whole day of walking all over the place!

At 23.38 we were at the train station.  Our "planning" was impeccable.  With 6 minutes to spare we were sitting on the last train of the day to The Hague - a snell train even! which means it was fast! We've had fun today.  I'm happy.

boxinbcn says:
It was fantastic. You have a beautiful hometown!
Posted on: May 08, 2008
cvanzoen says:
It looks like you had a nice day in my hometown!
Posted on: May 07, 2008
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The Red Light District with Susie…
The Red Light District with Susie…
Arrival at the train station in Am…
Arrival at the train station in A…
Begijnhof.  This courtyard is from…
Begijnhof. This courtyard is fro…
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof. This was a Roman Cathol…
Begijnjof. This was a Roman Catho…
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof.
Me. In Begijnhof.
Me. In Begijnhof.
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof. This is a Gothic struct…
Begijnjof. This is a Gothic struc…
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof.
Begijnjof.
I like the little details like thi…
I like the little details like th…
Van Gogh Museum. This is a fantast…
Van Gogh Museum. This is a fantas…
This is one of my favorites at the…
This is one of my favorites at th…
Lots of trees in bloom all over th…
Lots of trees in bloom all over t…
Sylvia, let me know if you see thi…
Sylvia, let me know if you see th…
Kandinsky - nice place for a coffe…
Kandinsky - nice place for a coff…
Some of the rides here were pretty…
Some of the rides here were prett…
This is the bungie jumping attract…
This is the bungie jumping attrac…
Amsterdam
photo by: pearcetoyou