Amsterdam Part 2
This morning, our friend Michelle graciously offered to go to the Anne Frank house to get tickets; the advance tickets were sold out. But no luck! Online or in person, advance tickets really were sold out for a week! Still, she enjoyed her adventure, meandering through the streets and having some time alone to explore.
The rest of us had a quiet morning at the apartment visiting with Amira, eating, and playing quietly. Jetlag was not apparent until five pm, when my patience was running a bit thin as the kids slowly started unravelling.
We walked to the Van Gogh Museum. The kids all loved it, but hit their saturation point at about 3 or so hours, which coincided with us being well overdue for lunch! Teva was especially cute running around the exhibit with his headset. He excitedly searched for each numbered painting in order to hear the next story. His short-term retention was good, but I expect by tomorrow when asked about anything we saw or heard, he will classically say “I have no idea!” I personally could have spent another two hours in the gallery. I was in heaven.
We had a picnic out in a huge open grassy area in the museum district. After eating, there was a lot of space in which the kids could run. What a gorgeous spot! Though it was a bit chilly, we soaked in the vitamin D and watched the kids roll down the grassy hill over and over. Erez discovered a skateboard park he wanted to run around. On closer inspection, it was some sculpture abutting a ramp to an underground parking lot. The boys spent an hour running along the angled walls, as if it were a velodrome for people.
We walked through the elegant Rijks Museum and then took a canal boat tour. It was really neat to learn so much about the city from the vantage point of the water.
Amsterdam is fascinating on so many levels. The canal system is quite complex, with over 1700 bridges. The city is a real engineering marvel, managing the waterways:, expanding marshes into farmland, farmland into towns, and then as the city grew over time, adding bridges and making farm dikes into canals .
The architecture is beautiful; long streets of tall, skinny buildings, all attached together. Many buildings along the canals have a hook at the top, protruding out the front over the street. These hooks help hoist up furniture, supplies, and anything that can’t make it up the impossibly steep stairs (which is everything). The stairs are really more like ladders. As well, the hooks helped to bring goods away from the frequent flooding in the city, a habit broken with the building of a permanent dam many years ago that now protects the city. Evidence of the flooding history includes pieces of shells in the sandy surface of the low lying parklands we walked on yesterday.
The name Amsterdam comes from Amstelredamme, as the city was originally named for the dam of the Amstel River. This city is brimming with culture, including a ridiculous amount of museums (at least fifty). I wish I was here longer to see at least a couple more. They also have lots of theatre, live music, a cinemateque – the list goes on and on.
The other really interesting thing that struck me about Amsterdam is the cycling infrastructure. Every road has a dedicated bike road, which is really more part of the sidewalk than the road. Look both ways before daring to cross! In many parts of the downtown core, there are no cars allowed at all – only bikes and public transport. Transit passes are a mere 70 Euros for the year (about $107 CDN.) We saw the three story high bicycle parking garage at the central station – the boys were all amazed. We capped off our day with dinner at a Japanese noodle house, and then walked home through the lively streets – perfect end to another great day.
Overall, I have found Amsterdam to be a very open, tolerant, green city which I have barely begun to explore. I feel like we need to come back again to fully appreciate all the city has to offer. I can’t believe we are only here one more day. Tomorrow we meet “Bubbie” at the airport and then Tuesday we head to Nairobi.
Posted by Koren