We had a bit more PG type culture lined up for our second day in Amsterdam. First was to try – at Melissa’s insistence – the local fare of raw Haring, basically the Dutch version of street meat. I got peppered mackerel but luckily was able to try the raw stuff after Melissa had a bite and immediately handed it to Mason who, after a bite, immediately handed it to me. It was like the assembly line of rejected food. When Melissa tried to feed it to the birds even they turned tail and fought over teeny crumbs of bread instead. Where was Adam in all of this? Oh, he was laughing at us while eating his turkey and cheese sandwich that he bought earlier from a café in anticipation of how bad this little food experiment could go. Smart man.
After this we wandered through the city ending up at Ardis Zoo (flamingos!) and seeing the Hollandsche Schouwburg (a Dutch theatre) which served as a holding cell of sorts for Dutch Jews who were to be deported to nazi concentration camps during the war. We then headed on to the Museumplein – a huge park that sits between some of the major museums of Amsterdam – it’s also the site of the huge “I AMSTERDAM” sign. It was swarming with people and we all, of course, had to join the fray to attempt and get our picture taken with what must be the most successful city campaign ever. Seriously, where is the “I CHARLOTTE” sign? Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it but since when have Americans had the best grammar? (Let’s just see how many comments pop up about my many grammatical shortcomings…)
The Van Gogh museum was next on the docket and after paying a Kings ransom we were allowed in to see over 200 works of art by this great master. The museum is so nicely done taking you through Van Gogh’s development as a painter, through his moves to the Hague and Paris and his final paintings prior to his death. Van Gogh is really the epitome of the tortured artist and seeing his paintings, how different his style could be, was the experience of a lifetime.
Feeling ready for a short reprieve from traditional museums we headed across the street to the House of Bols – the world’s oldest branded distilled liquor. Here we got a short history lesson, some hands on time with smell and taste tests and then got to smell and guess the scent of over 32 flavors of Bols. After this they have a “flair” instruction session where you can learn how to mix cocktails a la Tom Cruise in his…famous?…movie “Cocktail”. They actually video record you trying it out which I now have in my possession…who will actually see this movie is yet to be decided. Bids of money and French country furniture will be accepted starting now. The best part of this ‘museum’ is definitely saved for last where you get to pick you favorite cocktail based on your taste preferences and then try two of your favorite scents. Definitely worth the money (less than Van Gogh!) and such a fun experience.
Dinner that night was had at Bazaar, a restaurant in an old church that served middle eastern food in ridiculous portions. We had a meat kebab, couscous with saffron dressing and a baked brie concoction…way too much food! Good thing we had no plans of exploring the teeny alleyways, however our narrow ladder/staircase to our apartment could have proved challenging had we eaten another course.
We said our goodbyes to Mason and Melissa who were going to be heading off to Belgium the next morning bright and early. It is so fun to have people to meet up with while you are overseas. While we love seeing the sights on our own, it definitely was more fun going into bars and restaurants with a crowd instead of just two!
Tomorrow is our last full day and night in Amsterdam and we have big plans to start early at the Anne Frank house to avoid the lines that can extend down the entire block, walk around the RLD during the day to see more of the buildings and architecture, and go to the famous canal intersection of Prinzengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht.