Amsterdam in a Day
Amsterdam Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
Since we had limited time in Amsterdam, I decided to try to pack as much into today as I could. We got an early start and enjoyed breakfast at our hotel (included in the price of the rooms). In addition to regular breakfast fare, they had the most excellent cherry preserves made right there that were amazing on a croissant! That with some coffee and I was pretty happy!
We walked down to the "Dam" where the Amstel River was first dammed up. It was a nice cool morning -- 70's and not many people out yet. We took a boat tour of the canals and it was a great way to get my bearings. The city is built on concentric circles of canals.
Our next stop was the Anne Frank House. It was so amazing to see the actual home and rooms where she hid from the Nazi's with her family in the back of the jam and jelly shop where her father worked. It was a very moving experience. The exhibit has various media to watch and read and experience. It was particularly moving to me when we went through the false bookcase door into the secret annex. I cannot imagine hiding in a place like that for 2 years. Only the father survived. Anne and her sister died at Bergen Belsen. Her mother died at Auschwitz. The father survived only because he was in a hospital at the time of the liberation of Amsterdam.
We stopped for lunch at a pizza place and had a pizza margherita, very plain and simple -- but it hit the spot.
The Rijksmuseum was our next adventure. It is the largest and most famous museum in Holland. We did the headset tour and saw some beautiful artwork -- pieces like Rembrandt's Nightwatch, the Jewish Bride, a self portrait and the Five Businessmen. I also enjoyed the Vermeer and Frans Hals pieces quite a bit. I had never spent much time studying Dutch artists other than Rembrandt, so the tour was a nice way to learn a bit about lesser known but still important artists.
For dinner, I made reservations at an Indonesian restaurant called Sama Sebo. Much of Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch, and there is a long relationship between the two nations. Dutch merchants who spent time in Indonesia introduced Indonesian food back to the mother country and the Dutch have evidently had a love affair with Indonesian food ever since. We ordered the "Rijsttafel" which literally means the "Rice Table." It is a way to sample many different Indonesian dishes at one time. You get many little plates of food. The Merchants of old used to like to do the Rijsttafel for their friends back in Holland to impress them with the quantity and difference of all the dishes. Rob and I shared 23 different dishes that night -- and nearly at it all! It was a great experience.
After our meal, we walked to the infamous Red Light District of Amsterdam. The streets were very crowded that night and especially in the Red Light area. It is just like you hear -- glass doors and picture windows wiht red neon lights around them and ll kinds of different ladies of the night trying to tempt you to enter. We saw all shapes, sizes and colors! We also saw three fist fights in this area -- and all were liquored up Brits. I heard that some airline had a special going from the UK where you could fly to Amsterdam on the cheap, so lots of guys were doing that and then getting hammered once they got to Amsterdam. We did not see a lot of guys going into the "houses" in the Red Light District though, but a few did.