This is a continuation of Friday night in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
After an interesting Friday night of mostly the Red Light District, we were tucked in early and also up very early to have a full Saturday of exploring Amsterdam. The weather forecast was perfect and our plan was to spend as much of the day outside as we could. After a great breakfast at our hotel, The Pulitzer, we checked with the very friendly conceirge and were given a good map and a plan of attack for the day.
To bike or not to bike
We debated getting bicycles to start the day but ultimately decided not to because we love walking and didn’t want to worry about where to lock them. In retrospect, this probably wasn’t a reasonable concern, as Amsterdam is rumored to have over four million bicycles for its less than one million inhabitants. The risk of getting a rental bike stolen is very low, but more importantly, the bike is the top of the Amsterdam food chain. What we mean by that is that a bicycle seems to have the right away over red lights, pedestrians, including small children and the elderly. Bicycles fly around the city with little regard for traffic rules or crowds of people, and you ignore them at your risk. Since they approach quiety most of the time, we referred to bikes as “silent death” and had several close calls throughout the day. It wasn’t the sheer number that made them dangerous…it was the speeds they attain as they fly through intersections and even up on the sidewalk. Bicycles rule Amersterdam.
There’s something about a European street market that never gets old. There are always the freshest breads, cheeses, seafood, flowers and specialities of that particular place. The Noordermarkt was no different and there was plenty of free sampling to be had. Strolling through the market on a Saturday morning tasting the local products is one of the absolute best ways to get to know a city or country.
Something we’d witnessed on The Amazing Race but never in person was the way the tall and narrow canal houses of Amsterdam present a particular problem for moving furniture. With steep and narrow staircases, large items must be hoisted from the street using hooks attached to the top of every house and brought in the large front windows of the upper levels. It was only after we saw the movers in action that we realized that every single tall, narrow house had the same mechanism. In Amsterdam, that means nearly every house in the city.
If you have any interest in the Golden Age of The Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum is mostly dedicated to the art of the early to mid Seventeenth Century. Even though we saw paintings by Rembrandt, Degas and others, our favorite of the day was The Kitchen Maid by Johannes Vermeer. The subleties of movement, still life, shadows and light all come together in this piece in way that makes it distinct and almost a blend of many great painting styles. Despite our cultural backgrounds, we easily settled on this painting as our favorite of the day.
Beers on the canal
The remainder of our afternoon was spent enjoying the sun on the patio at the Aran Pub at Max Euweplein, a short distance from the museums and in an excellent place for people watching along the canal. There were people from all over the world and we were pleased to meet a great couple from the UK that had recently moved to Amsterdam from Santiago, Chile. Our kind of people.
We made our way back to our hotel along many of the most beautiful streets we’ve every walked. It is an amazing city of canals, bikes, easygoing people and elegance. It was truly a perfect Saturday.