Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Amsterdam and the Windmills

This Trip: FROM 2015.05.02 TO 2015.05.04

Day 1: “Entire Amsterdam” On Foot All Day Long

Museumplein → Leidseplein → Stadsschouwburg → Leidsegracht → Bloemenmarkt → Lanskroon → Begijnhof → Keizersgracht → Dam Square → Torensluis Bridge → Jordaan → Lindengracht Markt → Brouwersgracht → Centraal Station → Saint Nicholas Church → Oude Kerk → Scheepvaarthuis → Montelbaanstoren → Nieuwmarkt → Red Light District → Magere Brug Bridge & Amstel River
We started the day early before nine and so we were able to see everything a tourist needs to see of Amsterdam, only because we are no big fans of museums. Museumplein is a nice big square surrounded by three important museums: Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum. There is also the "I am sterdam" photographing spot right in front of Rijksmuseum behind the pond. From there continue north and walk past Leidseplein, which houses a big selection of restaurants as a choice of dinner. A few steps further stands the Stadsschouwburg, a neo-Renaissance style buidling dating back to 1894, also the former home of the National Ballet and Opera. From Leidsegracht, the widest and most important of the four connecting canals between the three main canals, head east to the floating flower market - Bloemenmarkt. Although the market is quite in the spotlight among the must-see in Amsterdam, we didn't find it exceptional. Continue northwest we stopped at Lanskroon for their "best stroopwafel in Amsterdam", which was quite good.  Begijnhof is a beautiful small leafy garden courtyard populated with privately owned pretty houses. The English Reformed Church is open to visitors. Continue northwest and walk along Keizersgracht, also known as the Emperor’s Canal, the middle one of the three main canals in Amsterdam. Dam Square is one crowded main spot. Highlights of "the Dam" include the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) and the National Monument. There is always something going on here, whether it be street theater, living statutes, organ grinders, protests, and lots of pigeons. Torensluis Bridge looks more or less like any other bridges there, but it is Amsterdam’s oldest bridge still in its original state, with barred windows under the bridge that serve as a reminder of the former prison once housed there. Jordaan is an interesting neighborhood where we once again saw how Amsterdam looks like, in addition to the Amsterdam style firmly packed pretty houses along the canals. Approaching the very north we walked through the local market Lindengracht Markt before reaching the Centraal Station. Turning back south with a few more stops, we were then heading to the Red Light District. It was not yet peak hours at around 16h, but seeing those  sexy ladies posing behind the windows were enough for us to experience the culture of Red Light District. Just be reminded photographing these ladies is strictly forbidden. The final stop of Day One's itinerary was the Magere Brug Bridge, also called Skinny Bridge, an 18th century wooden double drawbridge that is very popular among Amsterdamers. In the evening we strolled around the center and tried to get lost to see more. There are not many local specialty so we had some Belgium fries instead. There are also lots of waffles and crepes everywhere.

Day 2: Zaanse Schans + Haarlem

Among the many interesting places in the Netherlands we chose Zaanse Schans as we didn't want to leave this country without seeing some windmills, and Haarlem, the pretty little town close enough to fit in a one-day itinerary. It's so easy to go from Amsterdam to its neighboring towns by trains. From Amsterdam Centraal it took around 20 minutes to both destinations. Seeing so many windmills all in one place we had a morning of happy photo shooting. The waffles in the Bakery Museum was exceptional. We also visited the museum full of displays of the Dutch wooden shoes - clogs. The only thing lacking this day was the sunshine. Fortunately it was just cloudy but not rainy until we left the windmills for Haarlem. Our visit in Haarlem was short because of heavy rain.

Day 3: Amsterdam Canal Cruise

We had only half of Day 3, so by personal preference we chose canal cruise over biking to enjoy our last moments in Amsterdam. There are several tours departing near and to the north of Rijksmuseum. It could have been too crowded if we didn't manage to get on the first tour at 10:30. The 75-minute open boat canal cruise was a smart choice, especially when we had already toured around the city on foot on Day 1 before seeing it again from a different angle.