Friday, 11 June 2010


Well, I have only been here one day and already I love the place!!

This city is the first one that I have really explored on my own (Chris was working yesterday and is again today) so I headed out with map in hand slightly apprehensive that I would get totally lost (It is something I am rather notorious for!!). I made it from the hotel to the train station (good start!!) and then got the train into Cenraal Station (Did you know that they have double decker trains in Amsterdam? I had never seen a double decker train before and was most impressed!!). I was sat there studying my guidebook when a lovely Chinese woman walked up to me and handed me an origami crane (for those of you that don't know....cranes are a sign of good luck and are all over the place in Thailand). I thought that was a lovely thing for her to do and I was rather chuffed!!

I got off the train and decided that I would just have a wee meander about as it was supposed to rain in the afternoon. As I got out my map another woman about my age approached me....she had just flown in to Amsterdam and was leaving again that evening....we got chatting and ended up going for a coffee (Yes, I mean a coffee not 'coffee'). She was from New Jersey but had been living in Israel for a couple of years and we had a very interesting chat about life there. After our coffee she headed off to the Van Gogh museum (Chris and I are planning to visit there later this week so I didn't join her) and I went off in search of the art gallery area.

Ooohhh I had a lovely time...there are just so many wee nooks and crannies to explore!! I walked the length of the Central district, had lunch overlooking the Bloemmarkt (which is the flower market to you and I) and then followed the canals round till I got to Leidsestraat in the West District. Leidsestraat is one long street, with god only knows how many side streets off it, jam packed with antique shops, art galleries and funky places. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours going in and out of galleries and window shopping. Then I followed the canals again across to the East District and found Rembrandts house just as the rain was starting.

What a place!! The house itself is spread over about six different floors and is absolutely stunning. I got to see the studio where he spent most of his time, his collection of items that he used in his paintings (he had an entire room dedicated to coral, shells, Italian marble busts, butterflies, name it he had it!!), learned how the paint he used was made and even got to see a demonstration of how he made his etchings (and I got to touch one made by the man himself how cool is that!!). Did you know that he was the first artist to make his own prints? He used the excess ink on the metal plates to add texture and depth to his work. Each print required a new coat of ink which meant that every single print he made was different...I found it absolutely fasinating.

After that I made my back to Centraal Station where I met up with Chris. We then walked along to a restaurant that had been recommended in the guide book called Sarang Mas. I wanted to try it because it is famous for it's traditional Rijsttafel which translated means 'rice table'. It originated in early colonial days among hungry Dutch who, not satisfied by the basic Indonesian meal of rice and vegetables accompanied by meat or fish, always added other dishes. We had a mini-rijsttafel which comprised of pork satay, chicken coconut curry, pork in soi sauce with star anise, spicy beef curry, vegetables with lemon grass, prawn crackers, toasted coconut and fried banana. The idea is that you have a taste of each with a mouthful of rice....and it was absolutely stunning!!

After dinner we sat overlooking one of the main squares sipping chilled beer and people watching before we stumbled upon Amsterdam's oldest pub (I know....typical us eh!). It dates back to the 1600's and is known as a Tasting Inn. The entire pub just looked like some kind of weird physics lab...there were hundreds of old and unusual bottles full of different types, colours and flavours of gins and lots of different liquors....I kept waiting to see someone come in who looked like a mad professor!! We only stayed for one cause it was late and we were both knackered but I have a sneaky suspicion that we may end up back there tonight!!

So there you have one of our trip. I can't promise that I'll be able to blog every day but I will do my best to keep you all up-to-date.


Lane said...

Gosh, what a day! I've always wanted to go there and after reading this - even more.
Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Van Gogh museum.
Enjoy the rest of your stay.

Queenie said...

I loooove Amsterdam... left a comment on your last post but it seems to have been eaten, it says go here if you can fab pub where locals drink, only 10 mins walk from Central Station. We were aiming to go to the oldest pub when we were last in Amsterdam, in January, but didn't make it. I've been three times, always in January, next time I'm determined to go in summer or at least spring or autumn!

SueG said...

Yay! You found rijstafel! My mouth is watering. It might be time for another visit. So glad you're enjoying it. And great photos!

JJ Beattie said...

I've always wanted to go to Amsterdam but never have. Maybe if I move back this summer that can be a compensatory treat!

I'm glad you're having a lovely time.

French Fancy said...

Oh I love Amsterdam. I've only been there once mind and it was about 25 years ago but the impression of it has remained so fresh in my mind. I wish I was there with you - although Chris probably is glad he has you to himself.

I do hope we meet one day

Rosie said...

I loved Amsterdam. We walked miles. Took one of the buses right to the end and back again one day. Such good people watching too.

Ayak said...

My crammed an awful lot into one day. Amsterdam is one place I haven't visited but has always been on my list. Enjoy the rest of your trip xx

Louise | Italy said...

I'm jealous. I do love Amsterdam. I used to go there every year - somehow it was always December, when the whole place was freezing but somehow full of energy. Great post!

peter_may said...

Pubs and food! Why am I not surprised? Just don't let Chris go window shopping in the red light district!!

Ann said...

Okay, what happened to my comment, one of those cyber thingy's again. Okay, will try again.

Chicken coconut curry, vegetables with lemon grass, prawn crackers, toasted coconut and fried banana, oh boy, yummy, yummy, especially the toasted coconut and fried banana, was it delish.

Been to Amsterdam a few times, really enjoyed the place, and the mix of people, oh yes indeed, people watching is fun over there.

Loved your painting, really did, did you watch Van Gogh on Saturday, he was transported to see his own work in the museum, how moving was that, pity about the blind budgie.

So are we indulging in a favourite hobby again, seeing how many pubs you can both frequent in a day?

Carol said...

Lane - It's somewhere I've always wanted to visit too and I have to say that I have not been disappointed in the slightest!! I think you would love it here :-)

I'm going to the museum tomorrow...can't wait!

Queenie - So do I!! I would move here in a heartbeat!! The architecture is stunning, the food really yummy, the people are lovely and the atmosphere is really buzzy in a kinda chilled out way.

I'm guessing that it's really cold here in Jan? One of the things Chris and I have really enojyed doing is sitting outside and watching the world go by. We went to the park today and stumbled across a free Jazz concert...just fab!!

Sue - OMG the Rijsttafel was just stunning!! We both absolutely loved it!! Hehehe, I think you may be right :-)

JJ - You would absolutely love it here!! There is just so much creativity everywhere you look!! It's doesn't have that feel of 'you could be in any city' that some have...there are loads of unusual things that I've not seen before and oodles of art galleries, book shops etc. Definately a worthy compensatory treat :-). Hope you find out soon honey.

French Fancy - We, my dear, will definitely meet some day and I just know that we will get on like a house on fire when we do!! I'm not surprised that you love Amsterdam's a wonderful place!!

Rosie - I so hear you on the walking miles bit!! I don't think my feet have ever felt so achy and tired but it's been worth every step!! I think we've covered the entire city!!

Ayak - I like to try and fit in as much as possible when I'm on holiday and have to be reminded that downtime is important too. Chris's conference starts tonight so he's going to a registration thing tonight and I'm going to have a long soak in the bath. (We're staying at the Hilton and the bath is huge!!)

Louise - I can see why you would visit every year...I don't think it would be possible to get bored of the place! There is just so much to see and do!!

Dad - LOL....after Thailand the red light district here seems really tame! We did walk through the area the other night and I have to say that we both ended up with the giggles...honestly some of the sites...

Ann - It was really tasty and some of the dishes had no chilli in them so you wouldn't have ended up with a red face either!!

There are just so many people from all over the world that sitting watching the different styles go past is fasinating. We ended up trying to guess where people were from based on what they were wearing (Neither of us were very good at it but it kept us amused!!)

Yeah, it was very moving....actually, it was that episode that made Chris want to go to the museum :-).

LOL, busted!!

C x

Debs said...

I've never been to Amsterdam, but this makes me want to get a move on and visit there soon. x

Carol said...

Debs - It's a wonderful city, expensive, but wonderful....and there is just so much to do and see!!

C x

LilyS said...

Great post, I really want to go (not for work this time). My mum and dad went and absolutely loved it. I've heard Anne Frank's house is fascinating (well of course) and the heineken brewery tours are pretty cool.

Award for you at mine btw

Carol said...

Lily - I think I might refrain from telling Chris about the Heineken tour...i may never get him to leave!!

We're visiting Anne Frank's house on Wednesday morning.

Ooohhh an award...I shall be right over :-)

C x

Calico Kate said...

Are you sure you have only been there for one day! You must be exhausted. Food sounded glorious until I got to the fried banana bit ~ bleaugh!!
Off to see what you did next.....

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