Thursday, 24 April 2014

London & Holland April 2014 Day 5

Monty the Motorhome is still parked up at Gaasper Camping, Amsterdam, trying to understand all the foreign engine noises coming from the site.

We slept well, having been totally exhausted by our first day in the city. However it was an early start again and we were out by just after 9 and back on the metro. Once in the city we headed for Bakken met Passie on Albert Cuypstraat - a bakery recommended in a book of eating places around the world recommended by leading chefs. We both had the breakfast option - mixed breads, ham, cheese, lemon curd and jam. Delicious. Go there if in Amsterdam.

Then to our second art museum of the trip - the Van Gogh. Once again, like the Rijksmuseum, this is a popular tourist venue. I had pre-booked on the internet for a timed entry and it was fast and efficient. We also took the option of hiring the multimedia guide - a detailed explanation of a selection of the most famous paintings. This was a good option,  as each explanation was only one or two minutes and pitched at novice art knowledge level. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s work and the paintings are arranged in chronological order, with the different phases or periods of painting career clearly defined. I had never realised that he was only 37 when he died (suicide) and that nearly all his works were completed in the last decade of his life. Astonishing, considering he produced over 2100 works. Unfortunately his Sunflower painting were not on show - they were in London on a special exhibition. Never mind - next time perhaps.

The Van Gogh Museum

Our plan after that was to pick up a walking tour that had been recommended in the Lonely Planet - Mee in Mokum, departing at 2pm from the Amsterdam Museum. We were there in plenty of time and saw the signs advertising the tour, but 2pm came and went with no sign of the tour guide, or even anyone else looking like they were waiting for it. So, somewhat puzzled, we walked around the canals for a while, then took a tram - really just to rest our legs and see a bit more of the city - right to the terminus of the route, then back to the city centre. Doing this takes you off the tourist tracks and exposes more of the local life, even though it can sometimes be a bit gritty.

Side street

Canals and bikes = Amsterdam

We had decided to have an early evening meal and sought out a small cafe cum restaurant called Hap-Hmm. Recommended in the Lonely Planet as a small neighbourhood place serving traditional Dutch food it certainly seemed popular with the locals. We both had the beef special, which was a decent helping of braised beef with vegetables, followed by crepe suzettes. Decent wholesome food at bargain prices.

By now it was early evening and once again the weary feeling meant we yearned to be back at the van. However we decided on a quick visit to the Red Light district, just to see what all the fuss was about. We saw a couple of young women standing in windows, in their underwear, trying to look provocative, but only succeeding in looking bored, and that was it. Admittedly it was early evening (about 7pm) and still light, but it all seemed very tame.

By 7.30pm we were back in Monty, feet up and kettle on. 

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