Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Amsterdam - Day 4 EYE Institute and Nieuwmarkt

Our last full day in Amsterdam, having finally gotten over my jetlag, I was able to step out before breakfast to catch the canals before the sun got too high in the sky.  It was worth the effort as the canals looked quite different and there were nice reflections in the water.  

We then took the ferry over to see the EYE Film Institute, architecturally stunning, both outside and inside.  The free ferry was a totally new concept for us, but makes so much sense!  Bike and pedestrian traffic flowed smoothly on and off the ferry without the logjams created by gates of one kind or another.  It was commuting heaven!  The Institute was in between gallery exhibits although there were permanent exhibits on the history of film among others.  But the architecture alone was worth the trip.

We returned to Central in the afternoon and finally located Chinatown, very close to the Red Light District.  We missed it on our first day there but it was easy to miss - it was not a very distinct area.  We hung out in Nieuwmarkt Square people watching until it's time for our dinner reservation at La Stage, a one Michelin star restaurant on the nearby canal.  It was a great way to wrap up our Amsterdam stay.   If you would like to read about this food experience, please visit Food Sparks, the food blog.

The following day, we waved goodbye to Amsterdam from the deck of our cruise ship as it left the harbour and went through the lock that let us out to the open sea.  Bruges would be our first stop.

Morning on the canal - like a painting

The Flower market revisited

There was a totally different feel to the canals with their mirrored calmness in the morning

No surprise - the wedding bike!
The stunning EYE Institute on the other side of the canal

The free ferry that took us across the canal

The EYE Film Institute - outside and in

Stunning stairs that take you to a seating area that totally reminded me of the Ryerson Learning Centre here in Toronto

A multi-storey parking lot for bikes near the waterfront!

Tunnel from the waterfront to Central
Swan parade on the canal near Chinatown

Office party on the canal

Temple in Chinatown

Hanging out in Nieumarkt Square, watching the bikes and people go by 

Taking advantage of the wifi outside the restaurants

Vaarwell, Amsterdam!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Amsterdam - Day 3 - Three Museums and everything in between

Having booked tickets the day before, we started the third day with a visit to the Anne Frank House.  There were lineups even with online tickets although the line moved fairly quickly, but the doors were narrow and the stairs steep.  I had initially debated visiting this museum as I've already read the book years ago so why bother with the lineup - what else would there be to see in an empty house?  It turned out to be a most touching visit and a memorable experience.  The video of Anne's father speaking about his discovery of the diary brought me to tears and made everything very real.

From Anne Frank House, we walked down Leidsestraat to the lively Leidseplein before we hit Museumplein again.  Our destination this time is the Stedelijk Museum (of Modern Art) and after that the Van Gogh Museum, both architecturally interesting since both consist of modern extensions to old buildings.  Online tickets for the Van Gogh are a must because of long lineups.  

After the museum visits, we took a small boat canal tour so we could see the smaller canals and go under low bridges.  I had hoped that late afternoon would be a good time for photos but the sun was right in our eyes as we were low in the water.  Next time, we'll have to try the big boats and see the big canals in a better timeslot...;-)

Door of Anne Frank House

The Singel canal near the Flower Market with the Mint Tower at the far end.  The tower used to mark the limit of the old walled city.
Leidestraat - the start of the shopping section
Leidestraat took us right to the lively Leidesplein - we were glad we were not staying in this part of town - a tat too lively but great for people watching
The Singel from the bridge in front of the Rijksmuseum

The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, with its stunning modern extension to the 19th century building
The intriguing rotating chandelier inside the Museum

Among my favourites at the museum:  the Mondriaan Tableau, the Matisse Odalisque and a Relief of Squares by Jan Schoonhoven

 What I loved about the building - every time I turned, it looked like a different building.  The architect had designed not only the building but everything around it, including the grove of trees which provided a great place to hang out.

Right next to the Stadelijk is the Van Gogh Museum, which together with the Rijks, encircled Museumplein with the Concert Hall on the south end.

The Van Gogh Museum, another extension on an older building, was equally spectacular
The Van Gogh atrium from the inside - the collection was of course fascinating, all the more interesting because we have already visited a few of his haunts in Provence.

The Rijksmusem at the other end of Museumplein, a great gathering place, the more so because of the exceptionally warm weather in September.  The thermometer must have hit 80 degrees that day - dogs and kids were enjoying the pool.

We boarded a small boat tour right in front of the Rijksmuseum and went under many low bridges

Many locals were taking advantage of the warm weather and having relaxed picnics in small boats cruising the canals

A cute clog boat
A picturesque houseboat
Lift bridges

NEMO - the Science Museum
A surprising find -  the Sea Palace Chinese floating restaurant reminiscent of the one in Hong Kong's Aberdeen, in fact, with the same name - dim sum and banquet venue

A very low clearance bridge!

The stork above the door of this canal house identified the location of the midwife!
The boat took us back to the Rijksmuseum and we took the tram back from Museumplein.  The kids were still chasing bubbles - what fun!  It was a fitting end to another packed day in Amsterdam.
Night views of the canals