Friday, July 31, 2009

Amsterdam In The Morning

I love Amsterdam in the morning. Amsterdam is lovely at any time of the day of course -- it has a great feel about it, but my favourite at the moment is in the morning. This time of day is my favourite because there are only a few shops open -- just the bakeries and fish markets on my 15-minute walk to work -- with a few others cleaning up last nights' 'fun'.

The best thing is that all the coffeeshops and pubs/cafes are completely silent, no doubt having closed only a few hours earlier while I was tucked up in bed. It's even possible to walk through the red light district and have it seem like a normal street... although I don't make a habit of confirming that :) My route to work cuts across one corner of it, but also has me crossing 6 canals so is generally quite picturesque.

It's also great because it isn't completely empty... there are a few people around, but mainly only the street cleaners or the people heading to work as all the tourists are still fast asleep in their hotels or hostels (apart from the really keen ones already out taking photos -- usually in matching raincoats and 60+) as the shops and museums don't open until 9:30 or 10am!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Van Gogh

Last Saturday we decided to visit the Van Gogh museum. They have a great deal on their website where you can purchase tickets and use them anytime between now and the end of the year, and you can even print them out and miss the huge queue. You can also do that if you have the museum card that I've mentioned before.

Van Gogh certainly had an impressive range -- he does have his own museum after all so you'd hope he had created a lot of work -- but personally I think his variety is what really makes his art stand out. My favourites are still the well-known portraits and Sunflowers, but it was good to see a lot of others that were equally interesting.

Van Gogh's work takes up the entire 1st floor, but you can see them all in about half an hour to 45 minutes unless you really want to stand in front of each piece for 5 minutes. The 2nd and 3rd floors contain a wide selection of works by some other artists, some of which were his friends.

On minor minus was the layout of the museum itself. I don't understand why museums don't have art displayed at a 30 degree angle (or so) a little higher up, so that a crowd of people can stand in front of it and not get in each others way. I'll ask my Dad to design the museum I want to build some day and it will be the first! People might get sore necks but at least it'll be worth it for enjoying the art!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Edam and the Beach!

Last weekend we visited Edam with some friends as they have a car. It was great being able to get there in half an hour and find a car park easily – there was no machine or attendant so we just had to write the time we parked there on a piece of paper and put it on the dashboard!

We wandered around the town a little and then stopped at great place called Hotel De Fortuna for a couple of drinks and some local cheese and mustard in their garden beside a canal. While there we saw the nearby draw-bridge raised by hand to allow a few boats through.

We then decided to drive across to the west coast to a beach village called Bergen aan Zee, through the slightly bigger main town called Bergen which had a lot of huge houses in a forest-like suburb, well worth a drive-through if you get out that way. The beach was amazing, similar to Mount Mauganui in many ways. There was even a cafe on the dunes with two NZ flags flying – we asked why and the owner said she ‘just liked the stars and knew there was no chance anyone would complain’!

After a few more drinks there we headed back to our friends place and had dinner at a nice local Portugese restaurant that they knew. The service was a bit on the slow side but the food was really delicious – I had the goat and it was delightfully tender!

Unfortunately we hadn't charged out camera battery, but our friends did take a few photos so hopefully I'll be able to upload those at some point.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shopping is a necessary evil for me -- my style is one of having a specific thing in mind, browsing for as little time as possible and then going in for the purchase as quickly as possible. So recently I needed to buy some new shoes as my current pair of brown CATs were looking a little worse for wear after 3 years.

Enlisting the aid of my girlfriend I went for a stroll along Kalverstraat. We were pleasantly surprised to find a great many shoe shops along the strip, more than we thought were there, especially in regards to mens shoes. I found 1 pair that I liked enough to try on in Sketchers but once I did I realized they weren’t for me… but while there I noticed another pair I liked and my girlfriend found a pair of slip-ons that I decided to try. I liked both so bought them with a little discount for buying two at the same time!

So anyway, you’ll see very few posts like this from me, but I did want to advise that shoe-shopping here in Amsterdam is very good!

Next on my list is a new summer jacket, yay.