After a scenic drive up form Brussels we checked into Hotel Arena, our Amsterdam base, and were given a great loft room and a couple of free cocktails as a thanks for staying with them through their renovations. We grabbed our drinks and food on the go and headed out to the Heineken Music Hall for the nights entertainment. First up was a young English guy backed by a band of his mates called Charley Marley, the music was a combination of reggae, hip hop and brit rock which was at times amazing and at other times almost amazing but not quite, potentially one to watch. Next up were the main event, Fall Out Boy, who played an amazing set featuring heaps of our favourite songs covering 2003-2015. The atmosphere was pretty intense despite 95% of the crowd having never been to one of their gigs before, a stat the band learned quickly when they asked everyone who’d been to one of their shows before to scream… I feel that bit probably won’t make the final cut of the tour DVD. It was an awesome night and we had heaps of fun, even with Jess being just short enough that she couldn’t see anything. Don’t worry though, it was an amazing view at my height.
The next morning we woke up keen to get out and explore Amsterdam, this enthusiasm had unfortunately waned before we even left the room as the weather was disgusting – cold, windy and miserable. Despite this we headed out into the city and jumped on the tram into the museum district, public transport was really good in Amsterdam and the pass you buy covers trains, trams and busses so you can just jump on whatever is around at the time. We went for the obligatory photo at the big “I amsterdam” sign and I ended up immediately being ambushed and spending a fair bit of time taking photos for a group of lads on a boys trip from Italy who felt really strongly about exactly how their photo needed to look. After we left them we headed indoors as the rain began to fall.
Under pressure and with the rain falling we decided to go and check out the Stedelijk Design Museum, it sounded really interesting, had an amazing building (which we couldn’t get a picture of because the rain would have killed the camera) and was closest. Personally I probably wouldn’t recommend this museum if you are only doing one in Amsterdam as for the 30 Euros ($AU45) it cost us to get in there wasn’t much there and we could definitely have seen more elsewhere. We really hadn’t done our research for Amsterdam as we had run a muck in Belgium and not spent any time online and then been out all night at the concert, this had a big impact on our stay so for future destinations we’ll definitely have a bit more of a plan/clue. The better museums to visit are definitely the Rijksmuseum, which has recently undergone a massive refurb and is by all reports amazing or alternatively the Van Gogh Museum. The lines for the Van Gogh museum were out of control every time we were in the area, if you want to see it you should definitely book the tickets on line that are for a specific time, that way you get to go in via a separate entrance and skip the queue.
Once inside the Stedilijik Museum I concentrated very hard on getting some culture – I took in a Picasso, a Van Gogh and a couple of paintings that looked a lot like someone had hit a Rubik’s cube with a mallet. Admittedly it was quite impressive to see an original Van Gogh painting but it did feel like the ‘design” focus of the museum was missing as the majority of floor space was a gallery for paintings and the majority of paintings were canvasses painted in block colours.
You can see how dazzled Jess was by the coloured in rectangles, she loved them… She did seem to get distracted by the shiny things though (Lucky we didn’t visit Antwerp on the way up) and we did manage to find a few sculptures and instillations around the place, even a small section on design! One of the most impressive design elements we found in the museum were the escalators at the exit, not sure if this was an ironic accident or if we just got trolled by a museum.
We headed into The Dam square and found an Autumn Festival in full swing with rides and carnies galore, just as I had almost convinced Jess to go into the haunted house the rain came through again and got so torrential we just gave up and jumped on a tram back out to the hotel for the evening. We did manage to get a couple of shots of the canals as well as of the houses that seem to be collapsing on to each other throughout the city on our way home.
The next day the weather continued to let us down, this was the first time in almost four months that we were forced to compromise our holiday due to bad weather so we shouldn’t complain… But we did. Heaps. It was really annoying. We ended up going and checking out De Hortus Botanicus, one of the world’s first Botanical Gardens. It was founded in 1638 by the Amsterdam Council and thanks to exotic plants brought back on ships by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th & 18th century it boasts one of the oldest and broadest collections in the world. They also had some weird see through butterflies and water lilies that could allegedly support up to 50kg of weight, Jess refused to test this claim much to my disappointment.
We tried an expedition into town again but the weather made it impossible so we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a night on the town, after a bit of a rest we headed out to find dinner. After a quick tripadvisor session we had found an amazing Nepalese and Indian restaurant that had an epic menu, we had planned our entire order and were super keen. After walking around searching for the restaurant for over half an hour we eventually found that it was closed for a Nepalese holiday and that it was one of the few days a year they didn’t open, if anyone is ever in Amsterdam and feels like Nepalese check out Ashoka and let me know how it goes, I’ve heard good things.
To complete our Amsterdam experience we headed to the Red Light District and went for a quick stroll through to see what all of the fuss was about. Mostly it was just girls behind windows and adult shops, the atmosphere wasn’t as sleazy as expected though, there were heaps of tourists about and everyone seemed to be having a good time. We heard through word of mouth there are a couple of great tours that go through at night and that they are hilarious and also give heaps of information about the districts history, we had a look online and they were all booked out so another thing to book ahead if you are keen.
That brought out Amsterdam experience to an end, it started strong but was quickly derailed by the weather which was unfortunate, probably a city to visit in the summer as it is far enough north that winter seemingly comes early. Sorry about the lack of photos, we couldn’t risk the camera! Our next blog will be from the Black Forrest in Germany as well as covering our day crossing the Alps, it should be up soon.
Thanks for reading!!
LF & JT