On Thursday, April 20 we said good-bye to the River Voyager and dragged our suitcases to our new hotel, the Bank Hotel. We had a beautiful 5th floor room with a lovely view of the city roof line.
So, we have spent the last three days getting to know the city and trying to take in some of the more popular sights. However, this has been somewhat difficult because the city is very crowded now with people celebrating spring and getting ready for the King’s Day celebration next Thursday. In addition we seem to be spending most of our walking time dodging bicycles! This is really a bicycle culture-there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam. You not only have to watch for people riding bikes, but you need to walk around all the ones parked on the sidewalks or where ever their owners drop them. We saw a 3 story bike parking garage next to the train station which was totally filled with bikes!
Places we have visited while in Amsterdam:
1. We first went to the Central Railroad Station to scope out the train system. You can take the train to almost any city and it is quite easy and fast. This is a large Neo-Gothic building built by the same architect as the Rijksmuseum. It was built in the late 1800’s and has two towers, one with a clock, the other with a weather vane.
2. Then we walked along Damrac to see the canals, all of the restaurants and shops along that street, the Stock Exchange Building, and ended up at Dam Square. Here we saw the National Monument, built to honor WWII veterans, and an amusement park which obscured all the other magnificent buildings!
3. We found the Amsterdam Museum, but decided not to visit it. We did look at the interesting paintings in the gallery at the entrance and we had breakfast in the cafeteria.
4. We visited the Begijnhof. I found the Catholic Chapel very moving with all the paintings and relics of St. Ursula.
|Suzanne at the Begijnhof|
5. We saw the Amstelkring Museum which gave us an idea of what the inside of a town house looked like. In the attic of this building we found the “hidden church” – a beautiful Catholic church built for worship when Catholics could not openly worship in a church. What a fascinating story.
|The Hidden Church|
6, We toured Rembrandt’s House which is the home that he lived and worked in for almost 20 years. It is located in the Jewish Quarter of town, so we also walked around there for awhile.
7. We walked around the Red Light District – but it was too early for the prostitutes to be out, so all we saw were the red curtains that they stood behind later in the evening.
8. We managed to get a spot in the Van Gogh Museum and found it most beautiful, but very crowded.
We are leaving tomorrow, April 25, so I will have to send my last post from home. We have not had good Internet in this hotel!