19:03 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

Last weekend, we ventured across the channel to the land of canals and more. Amsterdam.

I had visited a few times for work. It was a glamorous, fly in at night, eat room service, go to a meeting, fly out the next day. Once, I squeezed in a quick dinner out on the town and a fast (very fast) roam through of the Red Light District.

Canals of the Red Light district at night
So, when the chance came to really explore the city for a weekend, we jumped on it.

We opted to fly instead of take the Eurorail - while the Eurorail is great for Paris, it isn't direct into Amsterdam, and takes about 4.5 hours, which is pretty comparable to flying when you add in security.

When we got into town, it was late and freeeeezing. Welcome to Europe in the winter. We wandered the streets and found a good restaurant to warm ourselves up in before hunkering down for the night.

Iconic Amsterdam sign outside the Rijks Museum
Saturday, we woke up early to grab a quick bite and start our exploring! First up was Anne Frank's house. Despite having read her diary, it had been a long time and some things seem to be easiest to understand when you see it in front of your eyes. We walked up the narrow staircase which was covered by a bookcase to hide their existence; we saw the room which she plastered with photos and images to make it feel like home. We saw pages of her diary, which she hoped to be published once the war ended. While the building itself was just empty rooms, there were quite a few multimedia exhibits to give more information and insight on both Anne Frank and the war.

Paul on the canals around Anne Frank's house

Next, we decided to take the tram over to the Rijks Museum. The reason most people visit is the Night Watch, the giant Rembrandt masterpiece, but the museum also houses other pieces important to Dutch history. Perhaps because it is currently under construction, it seemed a bit small; we may have missed out on some works that are usually part of the permanent collection. 

My favorite painting at the Rijks - the Angry Swan as I call it
It's supposed to also represent how the political leader
Johan de Witt defended the Dutch against their enemies

After all the museuming, we decided it was time for a break. Next up: Heineken Experience! Since Paul used to be a home-brewer himself, we have always enjoyed brewery tours. And by we, I mostly mean Paul as he quizzes others on their yeast, hops and other brewing things. This tour however, focused quite a bit on their history versus the brewing (although this was included, just more interactive versus educational), as what you are touring isn't an operational brewery. By far, the best part was the beer itself. As someone who doesn't like beer, I finished my samples off with no problem!
One of the old Heineken logos and barrels

On our last day in Amsterdam, we decided to slow things down and take in the works of Netherlands most famous artist - Van Gogh. Usually, these would be found in the Van Gogh Museum, but like the Rijks Museum, it is under construction. However, many of the pieces have found a temporary home in the Hermitage Museum. This was by far my favorite part of the trip.

Everyone knows Van Gogh's most iconic works, but I didn't know anything about his story. How at 27, he just decided to become a painter and made it happen. He tried to emulate many others works to increase his talent and you can see it in his paintings. From impressionism to Japanese art work, his techniques, and his subjects are varied. It was interesting to walk through each subject and see in what time period it was painted. The museum itself houses some of his most famous pieces, including the room, the sunflowers and the cherry blossoms.

How did we wrap up the trip? Walking back to the train station in the snow. One of the first times I have been happy to return to winter weather in London!

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