Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Amsterdam; a precious jewel in Northern Europe

Amsterdam; a precious jewel in Northern Europe

It’s been more than 15 years since my last trip to this city. When I lived in Paris I visited Amsterdam more frequently, it was so easy to jump on that train and a few hours later you were straight in the heart of the city.

Amsterdam is such a small city so wherever you are; you are never far from anything. In the inner city I can’t really see many changes, the lovely houses and the canals are as pretty as before and strolling trough the parks and gardens, walking or biking; this city might not be Paris or Rome but it sure is a northern Venice to fall in love with.

The habitants of Amsterdam though start to complain about the mass tourism which probably has increased quite a bit this last decade. The city deteriorate, the infrastructure can’t handle the masses and they are looking at the same problems as Venice. People from Amsterdam or in general, the Dutch, are really great people, very down to earth, cool, interactive, but it says they are getting sick and tired of all the people rumbling in to the city to smoke pot and visit red light district?. Are they becoming unwelcoming like the habitants of Barcelona and Venice? suffering the same problems, or like any European city? Read the Guardians article here! from November 2017.

Our landlord at the Airbnb, a very nice man with great taste of interior design, said the the city of Amsterdam will start to make more restrictions when it comes to rentals, just as Paris.

We stayed in the lovely neighbourhood De Pijp,

formerly a working-class neighbourhood, today De Pijp is home to a multicultural community and one of the city’s most famous markets. Bohemian De Pijp’s narrow streets are lined with eateries, old-school pubs and cafes with side walk terraces. Gregarious stallholders at Albert Cuypmarkt sell Dutch specialities like herrings and waffles. In a former brewery, the multimedia Heineken Experience chronicles the history of beer making and offers tastings. Also in the area, Sarphatipark features English-style gardens with ponds and meadows.

I organised this trip for my family around Anne Frank’s “the Diary of a young girl”. The whole family had read the book again and I thought it would be an interesting visit to the house. But destiny decided otherwise; if you want to visit the house during summer holidays, you better reserve your tickets about 2 months in advance!!! crazy! so once again I missed that visit.

But I did not miss the Rijks Museum and the Vincent Van Gogh Museum; the Van Gogh museum, which I saw the first time back in 1992 and it was a very intense visit of colour splashing beauty. The museum then was mind-blowing, because of its genius display. You started from the ground with his early work from Holland. Very dark, realistic portraits of people, he was very eager to paint the poor and the farmers, like the famous “Potato-eaters”. Then you work your way up from the ground to the light… when he arrives in Provence,France. It just hits you! the colours and the light in his paintings, the brush strokes are so different from anything you’ve seen before. I had tears in my eyes.

Now I think, since they renovated it, that the display is less striking, but nonetheless mesmerising.

Rijks Museum was a first time for me, so I reserved my tickets in great advance to make sure I’ll finally see the classics of the Dutch masters and yes you get a bit overwhelmed by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn! But do enjoy the many other masters hanging there as well. I also must say something about the staff at the museums, wherever you went with these huge masses of visitors, they were absolutely delightful! Kind, helpful, always answering questions with a smile. Such a difference from grumpy French.

Apart from spending time in the museums we also enjoyed our trip with plenty of walking, something I never get to do in Bangkok… it’s impossible to walk in Bangkok! Enjoying lovely meals and many visits to cafés and markets. I’ll return some other time with great pleasure.

 

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