We slept in again and took our time with breakfast in the apartment. We had picked up a few things in the grocery store last night – that’s a whole other story! – and it was nice to not eat out for a change. We were out by 11am and back by 8:30pm so still a full day. We figured we’ve been walking an average of 7 miles a day since Friday (and maybe Wednesday if you’re me) and today was no exception.
We used the Rick Steves book a lot today (thanks, Greg & Robert!) and started with his City Walk tour. Random things on the way to the first stop:
This is actually a mall, which we thought was a shame for such a cool building. We learned later it was built like 1885 and was originally a post office!
The first long stop was the Amsterdam History Museum and it was the perfect way to start out. We also purchased the Museumkaart there which will get us in to museums all over Netherlands so we’re set for the week on that front.
Big takeaways from this museum:
- Flashbacks to Junior year World History class (Debbie: what was his name? I can still see his face!) – with reminders of what an economic powerhouse Amsterdam was in the 16/1700’s, plus multiple fights for independence after being controlled, depending on the century, by Spain, France, and Germany.
- Remember my comment yesterday about diversity? There are immigrants from 178 countries here.
- “Netherlands” = “low country” because about half of it is below sea level. The entire city is built on pilings.
- Topical given today’s Supreme Court hearings: In 2001, Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. Belgium was next in 2003 (and where we go next week).
We ate lunch in a very local sandwich place, mostly just counter space. But the food and coffee were great. Our counter looked out onto the street at an intersection and we played “ID the Tourists” as people passed.
We went to the Anne Frank House and the line was crazy long, so we went back to the City Walk tour. Next stop was the Royal Palace off of Dam Square, originally built as a Town Hall 1650ish at the height of The Golden Age, before being occupied by various French and Dutch royalty. A story better told in photos, as the whole thing is a stunning work of art. We didn’t get a photo of the front because there was a carnival in the square right in front of it – so wrong and distracting!
The Walk next took us through a shopping district – again all pedestrians, no cars or bikes allowed even though it’s a street, as we saw in every German town we were in. Where the Germans had their bakeries, the Dutch have cheese shops, although not as many as German bakeries. And like the Germans, they apparently like Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and especially Subway.
We went past a Rembrandt memorial of fun bronze statues, then back up to Dam Square and over to the Red Light District. It was entertaining in an odd sort of way but honestly not very interesting. Maybe straight men react differently :) Or maybe because we were there before 6pm and understand it doesn’t get really wild until after 9.
I had heard that the prostitutes beckoned you from their at-the-sidewalk glass doors so that didn’t surprise me. (I’m assuming you know prostitution is legal here.) I was surprised a bit at how unattractive most of them were. (And I’m being nice!) We only saw two, whose windows were right next to each other, that we thought were really pretty. We saw one from across the canal who looked so fake we weren’t sure at first that she was even real.
We passed on the Erotic Museum and Museum of Marijuana, Hemp and Hash since they are not part of the Museumkaart program and they looked too kitschy to spend money on.
Went by Anne Frank again and the line was still long, although about 1/2 what it had been earlier. Will go first thing in the morning and see what that’s like.
Dinner was Indonesian again but completely different from last night:
- Last night was a mom & pop place, most orders to go, food prepared and served almost cafeteria style. There was only one table which sat 6 and we shared with two others. Cost: €17.
- Tonight was more fine dining, lots of dishes served tapas style. Definitely tried more things, and got your own table. Cost: €57.
- We liked last night’s better and will go back before we leave.