Here's the next update....
Day 2 (why do I feel like adding the words 'in the big brother house'? I don't even watch the bloody programme!!) - Anyway, I spent some time in the morning blogging (I know....shocker eh!) then headed back into central Amsterdam. After doing some research on the double decker train (Yes, I'm still rather excited about them) I discovered that the museum I wanted to go to I had actually walked past the day before so I knew exactly where I was going...didn't need to get the map out or anything!! (which for me is practically unheard of!!)
The Hermitage Amsterdam features works of art on loan from the bountiful collection of well over three million objects in the 'parent museum' Hermitage St. Petersburg. The exhibition that was on (they change frequently) was based on the pioneers of modern art and was called Matisse to Malevich and featured works by Matisse, Picasso, Van Dongen, De Vlaminck, Derain and many others that were painting around that time. It was absolutely fantastic!!
Now I have to be honest and say that I've just never really 'got' Picasso....I've always looked at paintings and gone 'Meh' usually followed by a shrug followed by a 'I just don't get what all the fuss is about'....well I tell you what....I do now!! I think it was the first time I've ever seen one of his paintings in the flesh and it took my breath away....it was the painting 'woman with a fan' that did it. I just couldn't take my eyes off it!! I spent about three hours meandering around the exhibition and I loved every second of it!!
After that I headed to the Joods Historisch Museum which is based in what used to be the heart of the Jewish quarter. It is made up of four former synagogs and is said to be the largest Jewish museum outside Israel....I thought it would be interesting and would help put Anne Frank's house into a bigger context when we visit later this week. I wasn't wrong!! I learned a lot about the lives of the Jewish people....did you know that it was the Jewish community that established the very first stock exchange in Europe? I also learned a lot about how they were treated during the war....it was very moving....of the 80,000 Jews living in Amsterdam only 10,000 survived. Words fail me...
I met up with Chris, we picked a direction and then went off exploring. We actually ended up meandering through the red light district which we both agreed was a bit tame by Thai standards. It was a bit odd seeing women wiggling about in shop windows but the ones we saw? Well, I think Chris's comment 'Not even with someone elses' kinda summed it up!! Anyway, we ended up in this fabulous little restaurant where we had the most sublime fondu....It was made with Gruyère, Emmental and blue cheese and had an olive and tomato tapenade mixed through it....OMG it was good!!
The Weekend - We didn't have any real plan in mind except that we wanted to see a bit more of the city so we headed west to the Jordaan district. It is known as the bohemian quarter and is a labyrinth of picturesque canals, narrow streets, cafes and restaurants....oh and there are houseboats gallore!! We saw the Homomonument which was designed by Dutch artist Karin Daan. It consists of three pink granite triangles, the sign homosexuals were forced to wear during the Nazi occupation, and it commemorates all those who have been persecuted because of their sexuality. Just round the corner from the monument is Amsterdam's smallest art gallery and I have to confess...I couldn't resist....I bought a picture (which I cant wait to get framed and put up). We then found a real bussling little square so parked our bums and had a couple of beers....actually we both ended up staring at peoples bikes as they went past. Chris read in the guidebook that only some bikes in Amsterdam have proper brakes and the others? Well, if you want to stop then you have to pedal backwards!!
We went on a canal tour in the evening....I have to say that sunset over Amsterdam is a sight to behold!! I was, if I'm honest, a little disappointed by the tour.....I think perhaps we should have done that on our first night but because we had walked around the city so much we had pretty much seen everything that we passed. Still, I guess it was nice to see it from a different angle and it gave my aching feet a nice break! We got back just in time to catch the end of the England USA game (oh the joy!!) and ended up joining a truly international group....English, Scottish, Dutch, Canadian and American. It was very good natured and we rolled out of there in the wee small hours.
Yesterday we had quite a chilled day.....Chris's conference started in the evening so we had to check out of the hotel we were in and get over to the new one! (That didn't stop us dumping our bags at the train station and heading over to the Sunday Flea market before we left!). We're now in the heart of the Museum district (just along from Van Gogh Museum where I am headed today.....Chris wanted to go but since time is short he's opted for Anne Frank's houses instead) and just next to Vondelpark which is Amsterdam's largest and oldest municipal park. The weather yesterday was beautiful so we went for a walk round the park and stumbled upon a free open air concert. The atmosphere was great and we both really enjoyed sitting in the sunshine listening to the music and just watching the world go by. Too soon it was time to head back to the hotel....Chris headed off to the conference reception and I had a long soak in the tub and then ordered room service. I do love hotels!!