Monday, October 10, 2011

Greetings From Amsterdam

The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem v...Image via Wikipedia We're here just having a quick four day break, my first consecutive days off since April I think.  The flight was fine, we had to take a bus from Schipol to catch a train from another station to get into Amsterdam, but that was fine. There was an arse in suit playing hell with the ticket guy and demanding to know why they hadn't informed people in advance of the change of plans, but really, what's he supposed to do, phone everyone in Europe and say "Hey, if you're coming to Amsterdam on Sunday there are some engineering works on the lone so you'll have to catch a bus and that will hold you up by 20 minutes." The thing is, sometimes people in suits are dicks.

Amsterdam on arrival was much like Ilkley, mostly raining.  We had arrived later than decent restaurants open on a Sunday and ended up in a burger place where one half of the customers looked like drug dealers and the other half appeared to be the end of week get together of the Amsterdam National Front.  There's something about groups of skinheads that always makes me mildly nervous.

This morning though the city showed itself in a better light. After sleeping in until 8.30am, and there's a rare treat in itself, we had breakfast at the hotel and then set off on a bus tour of the city.  Meg fancied looking round a diamond workshop and so we looked at the beautiful, glittering and expensive things for a while, and then she said she could stand being bored for a bit and allowed me to drag her around the Rijksmuseum.

I was rather impressed with the collection of Dutch masters and the demonstration the art provided of what an impressive trade and military power the Dutch Republic was.  The museum is having a refit for the next couple of years and the display space has been vastly cut down, but the art on display is a visually stunning Dutch greatest hits parade, including the almost overpowering and vast 'Night Watch.'

After a quick lunch we took a canal cruise around more of the city, including the river and a cruise past the vast river cruise ships and the old sailing ships, the we had a walk around the fringes of the red light district and Chinatown.  Dinner was a huge pile of noodles and Peking duck, then a few pints of Heineken back at the hotel.

Tomorrow ? We haven't quite decided yet, but the floating flower market and Anne Frank's house are possibles.
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