On our third day in Amsterdam, we ventured north! There is a ferry that takes off from Central Station (Cenrtraal Station) and takes less than five minutes to cross the river. But the reason we wanted to cross the water was for The Eye. This crazy looking building is a cinematic museum/theatre. It definitely was more theatre than museum, but it was still a destination not to be missed.
The space was absolutely gorgeous and with floor to ceiling windows that faced the water. I would have just sat in their cafe and sipped coffee for the price of admission. On that note, the standing exhibition and archive is free, so any cost is associated with a movie or the exhibit. What was on this month was a light and sound installation by Anthony McCall.
At first, you walk into a white room full of sketches and notes for light transfer and “solid light.” We weren’t sure what we were looking at and beginning to question the value of what we paid. But once we walked around the corner and saw the first beam of light projected onto a wall, we knew there was something special. We were staring at something that looked like a solid wall because of light smoke that swirled around the space. It was funny to watch the people hesitate to cross the light beams thinking they would injure themselves. But it certainly was exquisite.
This picture is nothing more than a light being projected onto a wall. Strange to think that when all you can see is a cone, right?
One gentleman came up to us and made a comment in Dutch. Once we clarified we were American, he laughed and said, “Ah, yes, Americans. Chewing gum.” Jeff and I looked at each other like, that’s what we’re known for?
After leaving the exhibit, we headed down to the archive. There really wasn’t much to do, unfortunately. There were a few pods where people could watch classic films, but all of them were taken, and there was also a green screen experience. Jeff and I suddenly saw ourselves in the silent film A Trip to the Moon.
After we left, we headed to the big farmer’s market, Noordermarkt. It was this long line of tents set up in the northern part of the city full of random things for sale from fresh fish to vegetables to flowers to socks. We did find some gluten-free caramel waffle cookies which were completely worth the extra euro, and Jeff enjoyed the little Dutch pancakes drowning in Nutella. Other than those little highlights, there wasn’t much for us to buy or see. It became rather repetitive after the first batch of booths.
We were in the neighborhood of the famous Cat Boat or De Poezenboot. It’s exactly as it sounds. A floating cat oasis where people go to visit with kitties much like Lady Dinah’s here in London. Unfortunately, it was closed. They were only open between 11-3 and closed Wednesdays and Sundays. That’s the only real thing we missed doing along with not seeing the windmills. I would have liked to have snapped a picture or two of the famous Holland windmills.
The next day, we took a day trip to The Hague. This little area in Holland is about an hour west of Amsterdam toward the beach. Jeff and I love the beach, and even though it was cold and windy, we headed that way. Our first stop was the Mauritshuis which is famous for housing The Girl with the Pearl Earring. What I didn’t know about this painting is that it isn’t a portrait. It is a painting from the artist’s imagination. That makes it much more special than just a portrait of a woman.
The house was gorgeous and built into the canal. As we descended the staircase, we watched the water level get higher and higher. But this was a mansion of a house bestowed to one the distinguished military men of The Netherlands. Feel free to look through the pictures I snapped in the gallery below. What was most striking to me was the ceiling. Most galleries have a classical painting looking down on the tourists, but this place actually had a very modern splash of color thrown around.
It was a brief tour of the gallery before we started our trek to the beach via a gorgeous nature walk. The road less traveled was exactly that: green trees and thick grass in near silence. It was the definition of peace and solace. We got a little lost as we tossed and turned in the paths, but we were going to make it sooner or later. We were in no rush. But on our way, we stumbled upon the Peace Palace.
I really wish we had known about this place and made a point to schedule a tour. You can only go in with a guided tour of which there are limited times for English speakers. It was an absolutely gorgeous building that is known most for being created to end war with the treaty at the 1899 Hague Peace Conference. It is a symbol for world peace with an eternity candle out in front. What better place for a building like this to be than the serene wooded area of the country.
We did finally make it to the beach and stayed for a full ten minutes as we battled sand, wind, and colder temperatures. Despite the limited time, we certainly still brought half the beach home with us. We were about to head toward the large pier that spans a quarter mile into the water, but then we saw it was closed. Apparently, it’s been on the market for years even down to a single euro, but no one will purchase it due to the amount of upkeep needed to repair the structure. Such a shame, it would be a wonderful photo opportunity.
We made it back toward Amsterdam not without seeing a gentleman give up his seat to an older woman. I thought that was awfully thoughtful despite the woman declining and eventually accepting. That’s really not something you see in London. One of the many things that drives me a little nuts about this town so known for chivalry.
The last major historical place to visit was the Anne Frank House. We tried to see this place twice before only to be met with extraordinarily long lines. We finally made it one last time at 8pm and made it in after waiting for thirty minutes in the cold. But at least we were able to get in. There were no pictures allowed, which was a shame. I was able to sneak one, but I would have liked to have been able to take pictures of the actual, physical diary. I read Anne Frank’s diary many years ago in middle school, but after what I saw, I really want to read it again. I can only assume that when I was a child, most of the words went straight over my head and I was unable to understand the magnitude of the text. How sad is that for a thirteen year old girl to not understand another thirteen year old girl?
I am so glad we were able to get in after so many attempts. What got to me more than anything we saw in that house was the preserved wall of the glued newspaper pictures Anne had plastered on her bedroom wall. If you plan to go to Amsterdam and you feel this is a must for your trip, order your tickets online. It would have saved us so much time.
As we walked back to the flat for our last evening in Amsterdam, a huge and bright comet crossed the sky. It was so surreal to see this meteor highlight the sky, and I made a wish to be able to come back.
We had one last thing to do in this town before we left for London. Amsterdam is renown for its cycling culture. There are huge bike lanes and thousands of commuter bikes around the city. We were reticent to hop on the host’s bikes, but we braved the weather and the taller bikes and cycled effortlessly to Vondelpark. We both never fell over or crashed into someone, but we definitely had some struggles with the adjustments because our host is much, much taller than the two of us. A little over extension later, and we made the 2 mile trek to the park. I would estimate that the main loop was about a mile and we made our three laps around taking in the sights and snapping pictures. We had considered for about thirty minutes to walk to the park to see it, but we are relieved we saved our legs using the bikes. Cycling is not to be missed.
Out of all the cities we have visited so far, Amsterdam is the first place we would move to–given the option of course. It was quiet, active, and just flat beautiful.