After the Grand Meetup, I met Jeff when he got off his flight and I took him to a hotel to nap (ok me too).
We stayed for three nights at the Hotel Cornelisz in the museum district. It is an excellent location for touristy stuff!
After our nap, we walked across our first canal and found an Irish pub for supper and beer.
What a nice seat along the canal, watching the boats go by. Most people found it freezing, so we took advantage of the open table with our tough Canadian blood (and jackets).
We both ordered the Guinness stew. Really good!
The next morning I introduced Jeff to the greatness of the hotel breakfast spread in Holland!
He liked it more than he is showing.
Then we walked over to the Van Gogh museum. I have mixed feelings about this place. It was packed with people. Isn’t it crazy how we idolize and immortalize someone? Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive. And now he has this big museum where his letters and drawings and paintings are even empty paint tubes are displayed.
We couldn’t take photos of the real thing, but I was a little disappointed by his sunflowers painting. Is that wrong? Every Van Gogh book and tourist gift shop purchase of this painting, even the fake one below I’m standing in front is so big and vibrant. The real painting is kinda…. blah? No big deal. I think while walking through the museum, I lost any sense of why he is considered such an incredible artist. I feel a bit bad about that. But it was also crowded and very, very hot in there.
His starry night painting wasn’t there either. There were a couple of Claude Monet’s painting which was neat to see because he was always my favourite when I studied art and art history in high school. Maybe that is part of it, there were so many paintings. He was also the selfie king, painting so many of himself.
Our next scheduled event of that day was a Heineken tour in the afternoon, but we were so fast at the Van Gogh museum we had time to kill. We decided to skip the Rijksmuseum (pictured behind us below) because we heard it had a lot of paintings too and we had enough painting viewing that
day week already.
So we wandered around Amsterdam.
And ended up at the Albert Cuyp street market and wandered back and forth looking at all the vendors wares. I had a delicious warm stroopwafel!
We wandered on, looking at the canals and houseboats.
I had pre-booked a special tour at Heineken, for VIP’s! It cost a bunch more, but it comes with a dedicated tour guide, a small tour group, and the ability to skip all the tourist crowds and just see the good stuff. I *highly* recommend this version.
(And yes, my hair is crazy curly and weird and I don’t know what to do with it, but I’m glad it is on my head.)
And earlier, when I said this tour shows you just the good stuff, I also mean beer. Lots of it.
The normal tour gives you two Heinekens to drink.
Our tour had 6 more beers than that. Five of them were paired with a bread, cheese, or meat!
And we were in a secret private bar, located behind a painting!
Heineken tastes so much better fresh! In Canada it always seems to be skunky, but it is a nice light pilsner here.
I didn’t realize how many beer brands Heineken owns. We also tasted Amstel, Lagunitas IPA, and then a couple darker ones, Brand, and Affligem. They were all good, and so were the paired food items. The bread was made with the special yeast used in the brewing of Heineken and they recommended putting butter and coarse salt on it. Fresh bread must always be served this way now. With coarse salt and beer!
We were sitting with a bunch of guys from Norway. We didn’t interact for the longest time. But once I started talking to them, in my quickly acquired drunken state, we were all best friends. By the time we hit the busy basement bar for our last two Heinekens, I had invited them to Dawson City and may have even offered to buy their beer when they get there. They knew Dawson City, of course, from the Gold Rush tv show, which airs regularly here in Holland, and apparently in Norway too!
Look at the gift we got! Personalized beers!
Back at our hotel, I again skipped the staircase and opted for an elevator. Stairs in these old buildings are no joke! I tried them once, and then decided the elevator was more my style. They were so steep with short treads that over hung far and clipped my Achilles on the way down.
The next day we decided we’d do the Hop On/Hop Off bus and boat tour. We never even made it to the bus part, but spent most of the day on the canals!
We just had to sit here on a bench by the water, and when the boat came, we hopped on! Okay, I stepped on, hopping on the edge of a boat sounds dangerous.
We weren’t able to get tickets to the Anne Frank house in advance. I heard they hold 20% of the tickets until the morning of, but I was number 847 in that line too, so it wasn’t meant to be. We still decided to hop off the boat to see the outside of it though.
I remember reading this book when I was a kid. It really stuck with me. Isn’t it something how people who record their life story are remembered? She was basically an old school blogger! haha
OK that view is kinda too close. I waited for all the bikes to zip by before I stepped back for a better picture.
Still would have liked to see the inside, but I bet I could find pictures or a tour online somewhere, so I won’t wallow.
We kept on foot and wandered around, heading for the Body World exhibit.
The Body World exhibit is truly weird, maybe gross, maybe fascinating? It is all real human bodies who were donated and then there are exhibits on multiple floors of the museum for all major areas and functions of the body.
The man’s head that was sawed in half, so you could see both the stubble on his chin, and the cross-section of his tongue, will possibly stick with me for life. Who knew a tongue was so thick at its base. Jeff thought there were way too many penises, cut, sliced, exposed, and even peeled.
Afterwards we hopped back on the canal boat and spent a few hours just seeing Amsterdam from its canals. I think I thought the classic buildings associated with Amsterdam, and its canals, were just in one section of the town. But they are everywhere, EVERYWHERE!
And how do these people park like this!? On the edge of the canal, with no fence or poles. And how do they get out of their cars!? That is some talent.
I wonder how many cars go in the canals?
I took a ton of pictures from the canal boats, which have windows so that kinda mucked up the pictures but here are some of the sights:
I agonized before our trip if I was going to take my real camera. I decided not to. Our new iPhone cameras are really quite good, and I just didn’t want to lug that heavy thing and all its accessories every day. I made the right choice. Sure I’m not going to print or frame any of these, but they capture the gist of it.
At 6:30pm we had a ticket for a burger, hot dog, and unlimited Heinekens on another boat! I spotted his Delft painted Hank in their gift shop!
I booked this tour a few weeks early. We can be terrible at picking a place to eat, so finding things to prebook and schedule that included food sounded like it would cure that aggravation.
Seeing the views from the canals at night was a totally different world. Especially the guy standing beside the canal peeing into it. The buildings are so large and magnificent looking, and at night you can see into to them and see their ornate plaster ceilings or wooden beams. So many large windows in Holland! And seeing into the houseboats was eye opening too. So many look like rotten, rickety things on the outside, but so many are really nice and modern when you can see in at night! (I’d probably buy curtains, but to each their own.)
There were maybe just 20 people on this boat? We had our own table and nibbled on chips, and then they brought out burgers and hot dogs and kept the Heinekens coming! I’d recommend it!
The next morning we left Amsterdam for a couple of nights, and headed south to Alphen aan den Rijn and Rotterdam! More on that next time! And then we went back to Amsterdam for 3 more nights!! Stay tuned.