Olympic 2012

Checkout the latest Olympic medal tally here at Medal Count. You can even choose 4 countries that you are partially inclined to follow besides your own country. Arranged in whatever way you want, by country, by rank, by gold medals or even by total number of medals.

Even if you are not at all interested in who’s winning. Maybe the history of the medal design would be of interest.

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Balthazar’s Keuken

Located at Elandsgracht 108 is a former blacksmith workshop turned fine dining establishment with some weird rules — Balthazar’s Keuken. It is advisable to get reservations unless you plan to have an early dinner or a very late one.

Balthazar’s Keuken

We did not call ahead to book but luckily for us, despite the crowded interior, they managed to squeeze another table for the both of us. With a request that we finish dinner before 8pm. It was still 6pm so we had plenty of time ahead of us.

Former blacksmith workshop turned into fine dining with a couple of weird rules

We were stuck in between two tables shoulder-wide. On our left was a Dutch couple, happily sipping on their pre-dinner wine. To our right, 3 gray-haired ladies, most probably German as I do not understand what they were speaking and they definitely did not speak Dutch to the waiters. We probably chose the right time to arrive as they were about to start taking orders. So here comes Rule #1.

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Amsterdam Day 2 (Part 3)

After the quick noodle meal, we came face to face with the Tuschinski Theatre. Despite the neo-Gothic-cum-Art-Nouveau fa├žade, it is actually a modern cinema. We did not have time for movies, so a quick photo was all that we took.

The craze turned into a tulip-mania, when fortunes were won and lost through tulips

At the end of the street we came to the famous Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). This busy area is where you could find cut flowers, plants, bulbs, seeds and garden supplies. Quite the place if you have a green thumb. Surprisingly, the tulips did not originate from Amsterdam, they were actually from Turkey. The craze turned into a tulip-mania, when fortunes were won and lost through tulips. Luckily the bubble burst way back in the 1600s, otherwise we would be dealing in tulips rather than cash.

It was still drizzling as we made our way through the flower/tulip shops. “We could have bought a couple of these bulbs if the weather back home was much more favourable to support them,” claimed the wife. It is her favourite flower after all. Next to the Bloemenmarkt is the Koningsplein. Here you can find the raw herring, one of the commodities that put Amsterdam as a vital trading post.

“I wonder how did they built their houses?” asked the wife.

“Why?”

“They don’t look straight enough,” came the answer. Well, as you can see for yourself in the next picture.

No rulers used (click to enlarge)

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Amsterdam Day 2 (Part 2)

After enjoying a huge dose of Van Gogh and his friends, we proceeded to a different ‘friend’ altogether. The expensive one. A girl’s best friend — diamonds. The Diamant Museum Amsterdam is just located opposite the Van Gogh Museum. It is covered by the iAmsterdam card.

As you will find out later on, the museums in Amsterdam are all small and tiny unlike those in Paris. Not much difference at the Diamant Museum. Here you will learn the history of the diamond industry and how Amsterdam became one of the major diamond centres in the world.

“Is that all?” queried the wife after a brief 30-minute self-guided tour.

“Yes.”

We circled the Rijksmuseum which is still undergoing some renovations. Surprisingly, this is one of the big museums NOT covered by the iAmsterdam card. Which is a pity. Will tell you more about the pros and cons regarding the iAmsterdam card at the end of the Amsterdam trip.

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Film Map

Are you a movie buff? If you are, then you are in luck. Dorothy from the UK is selling a map of various landmarks with a movie twist to it. Did you know that the House of Wax was next to the House of Frankenstein? Or both Shutter Island and the Island of Dr. Moreau lie on the Reservoir Dogs?

Film Map

This would be a good conversation piece if placed in the home. Now, where am I going to find a home of my own?