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.
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.
“Prepare yourself for plenty of walking today,” I quipped. “No worries. I’m already mentally prepared for it,” came the reply. Hopefully the weather holds. For now, the sun is just slightly hidden behind some clouds. A good day for a stroll among the streets and canals of Amsterdam.
The tram came to our rescue as we took a brief journey towards the Amstel. Walking along the narrow streets next to the Amstel, we saw our first landmark — Royal Theatre Carré built by the Carré family. It is located across the Amstel away from us. Along the Amstel, we could see the various barges that are used as houses. Coming from a place with abundant land, it is hard to imagine how one could squeeze into such a tight space. I guess minimalism is the key to those who stay on these barges.
Coming from a place with abundant land, it is hard to imagine how one could squeeze into such a tight space
“Look at that Skinny Bridge,” said the wife. She was referring to the Magere Brug, also known as the Skinny Bridge. Legend or history has it that two sisters staying across from each other divided by the Amstel River, decided to built a bridge just big enough for them to visit each other. Nowadays, it is for cyclists and pedestrians.
“However, this is not the original bridge that they built. The current one dates back to 1969 as compared to the original built around 1691,” rattled off the wife whilst referring to her guidebook.
“It used to be opened manually but now, it is all automatic.”
Walking in Amsterdam requires full use of the neck. Looking above and from all sides
Turning left into Kerkstraat, we started to walk towards the Amstelkerk. The Amstelkerk is a wooden building built back in the 1600s and was once a church, now it houses an office or something. The cobble-stone streets are narrow around this area. Just wide enough for a car to pass through, however, most of the time, it is only for the cyclists. Walking here requires a full range of movement from your neck. First, at admiring the windows and architecture above you. Secondly, watching for cyclists coming at your from all angles.
Museum Van Loon
The area around Keizergracht was once home to the rich and famous, although it might still be so today, the only place you could see how the rich lived back in the Golden Era of Dutch History, you need to visit Museum Van Loon. And yes, it is covered by the iAmsterdam card.
Willem van Loon was one of the founders of the VOC, so you could imagine how rich he was. The outer façade is most likely from the 18th century and the theme is carried throughout the whole house. The wooden floor creaked underneath our weight, or you could say, the weight of history. Maybe they weighed less back in those days. Or it could have been a good anti-theft deterrent.
Tip: Try to look for the ‘false’ doors. Surprisingly, one of his descendants decided that they wanted a symmetrical look. So they had false doors painted to look right real ones. Or was it the other way round?
But the icing on the cake was the hidden garden located behind the house. Imagine this, there are two parallel roads separated in the center by 2 houses/lots. What you do not know is that both these houses are owned by the same family and they share a ‘secret’ garden in between them. Talk about utmost privacy. You can enter from one end and exit on another street altogether.
Head towards the Gouden Bocht or better known as the Golden Bend on Herengracht
If you are not surprised by the museum, just turn right at head towards the Herengracht. “Here you will find what is known as the Gouden Bocht,” I said. “The Golden Bend,” came the reply from the wife, who suddenly seemed to be able to understand Dutch. Until I saw what she was pointing at, a sign in English — Golden Bend. The Gouden Bocht is now home to banks and insurance companies, since only they could pay the rent.
Tip: Try to look for Herengracht 475 and 476. These are the houses of the family De Neufville and they have the prettiest façades.
The weather took a turn for the worse when it started to rain, we quickened our pace at went towards the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje, another favourite for the ladies. For the uninitiated, it is the Museum of Handbags and Purses. Amsterdam is notorious for having the most museums, but when you have such museums like this, it isn’t hard to figure out why Amsterdam is number one. Squeezed into a narrow 3/4-storey building, this quirky museum brings you along a journey into the history of handbags in various cultures and also to the modern ones adored by most but affordable to some. For me, it was a place for me to get away from the rain and to rest my feet while the wife poked her head around.
Hunger soon took over and we left the museum behind and made our way to Rembrandtplein. There was a slight drizzle as we took photos with Rembrandt’s statue right in the middle of the square. The cold wind chilled us to the bone and it was getting too wet for our comfort, another signal for us to seek shelter, and so we did.
Wok To Walk
This fastfood chain restaurant prepares steaming hot noodles from various ingredients and sauces to your own liking. They even ‘teach’ you how to make your choice in just 4 simple steps:
First, choose the base; noodles, rice or even vegetables for the vegan.
Second, choose the ingredients; ranging from chicken to champignon to cashew nuts.
Thirdly, choose the sauce from a choice of 7, ranging from hot to teriyaki or oyster.
Lastly, you can top it up with garlic or even fried onions.
A simple meal prepared pretty fast, just nice for a cold day and for our hungry stomachs. Someone should come up with the same idea for where I come from, it would be a lunch-hour killer.
The meal is good to go. Multitask by eating, walking and sightseeing all at the same time
If you are wondering about the name, no worries, the meal is good to go. Yes, after getting your meal, you could basically just eat it while walking, if you’re up for such multi-tasking skills.
(to be continued)