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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Amsterdam - Day 2

The two things I want to see in Amsterdam are the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum and today, that's exactly what I have planned...but first there's breakfast to be had. This morning I meet Sjaack (the other owner of the B&B) as he brings the large breakfast tray to my room.

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In the bread basket there are two muesli rolls, a slice of fruit bread and a piece of ginger bread
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condiments, whipped butter, apricot and strawberry jams and a jug of REAL milk
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5 types of tea
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ham and smoked meat, 2 types of cheese and a just-hard boiled egg
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During breakfast I get a visitor - who says cats aren't clever.
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After breakfast I head out for the day, purchasing a 48 hour ticket from the vending maching at the local subway stop, I catch the tram to Museumplein.
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You might see similarities to the new trams in Melbourne - except these seem to be better designed and actually have seats that are useable.

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First stop is the Van Gogh Museum. It would have been nice to include more photos but this museum isn't very friendly. There's a slight case of overkill, no large bags, no phones, no cameras - it's the first museum I've been to, where you have to pay for a ticket to get into the museum shop. After a metal detector and x-ray, you're finally allowed into the museum.

Maybe it's a combination of many factors, but it's an underwhelming experience. The museum itself, seems very clinical and lacks any atmosphere. It just seems a bit too heartless.

The ground floor contains the museum shop, a restaurant (which was closed even though it's supposed to be open at 10am) and the first gallery - it contains works from artists that Van Gogh was inspired by.

You have to go to the first floor before you see any Van Goghs. Here you'll find a timeline of Van Goghs life and representative paintings of those times. So you'll see how he progressed and what inspired him and his influence in art at the time. I enjoyed this part of the museum.

The third floor are works from the 19th century and the second floor houses the study area and temporary exhibitions.

Emerging after 11 (and seeing the queue) I've decided to go to the Rijksmuseum first thing tomorrow - I think it will be more enjoyable before it gets too crowded.

Consulting the map I decide to check out the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) - tram 2 that runs past the Museum goes past it, so without much delay I hope on board.

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The Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world - it specialises in flowers, seeds, bulbs and rare flowers (like blue and black tulips)
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It also had timely reminders...
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like anyone can forget these things.

If you have a green thumb you could always try these items at the souvenir shop
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I'm not sure how successful you'd be trying to bring these cannabis plants (the sign says they are top quality and 90% female) into the country (and I don't fancy your chances at the stop over in Singapore.

Having walked the length of the Bloemenmarkt and with plenty of time on my hands I boarded the tram and headed for the station so I could spend some time cruising the canals.

It's a bit of a mess out the front of the station at the moment - seems they are building a new underground line. I must say that the train station is a most impressive building.

I choose a canal-bus tour that gives you a ticket that's valid under 12 noon the next day. That should come in handy.

You can see a map showing their 3 routes here.

During the couple of hours spent travelling the canels I saw nice looking boats and
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some nice buildings
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and a nice building with a boat
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plenty of bridges
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and lots of water
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Arriving back at the central station I headed for the nearby St Nicolaas Kerk. It's has an attractive and distinct exterior but due to those rail works, I just couldn't manage to get a photo of it that I liked.

The church has an interesting history. In 1578 tolerant Amsterdam city council declared the city to be Protestant and as such, outlawed the holding of Catholic services - all churches and chapels had be handed over to the Protestants. Catholics were forced into hiding, creating many secret churches in attics or hidden rooms (some are still open as museums). St Nicolaas Kerk was renamed Oude Kerk meaning "Old Church". The Catholic parishioners of the parish set up a secret chuch called "Our Lord in the Attic."

Catholics eventually regained their equal status in 1795 but St. Nicolaas Kerk wasn't rebuilt until 1887. It was designed by Bleys in a Neo-Renaissance/Baroque style following a traditional three-aisled cruciform basilican floorplan.

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From here I caught the tram down to have a look at the Nieuwe Kerk - while the exterior was nice the interior didn't seem to be worth the entry fee, so I skipped it.

Feeling peckish I headed over to the MagnaPlaza across the road for a quick bite to eat - it's sort of like the QV building in Sydney or Melbourne PO.

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I ended up having a Piri Piri Chicken Baguette - it was very spicy, tasty and quite satisfying.

After having another brief look around the area I decided to head back to the B&B - the city is just lacking in something and the desire to keep exploring isn't there for the moment. There's a depressed feeling to the city.

If you'd like to see more photos from today just click on the link Amsterdam Set

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