Free Day in Amsterdam (August 12, 2019)

We woke to intermittent heavy rain and 60 degrees. After fortifying ourselves with a hearty (free) breakfast we braved the weather. At the recommendation of Cleone and Emily, we had booked tickets (10:45) for the Van Gogh Museum and did not want to miss our slot. The concierge explained how easy it is to take either streetcar #2 or #12 almost to the front door, so we headed out and sure enough, it was a breeze. 3.20 Euro each. We made such good time, in fact, that we snuck in a coffee and cake before our time slot. We chose a cafe nearby in case the rain started up again, and sure enough, it was pouring for our two-minute walk back to the museum.

We know very little about art and famous artists, so we went straight to the auditorium for a 25-minute presentation on Vincent van Gogh. I enjoyed it thoroughly and Dan slept through the whole thing. Three hours after entering the museum, we were amazed that a 47 year old man who suffered terribly from mental illness, was never successful enough to fully support himself in spite of creating 2,100 works, and whose work was not popular in his day now merits a huge, beautiful museum dedicated to his work and his sad-in-many-ways story. Paintings with a particular appeal to me were The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, his many self portraits in hats, The Bedroom in Arles, and Farmhouse in Provence. 

Saturated with all things Van Gogh (thanks to wonderful headsets), we headed back to the hotel confident we would have no problem retracing out steps, because all we had to do was follow the tram tracks. An hour into the walk back we decided to check Google Maps to see where in the heck we had gone wrong only to find out we had six kilometers (0.6 km = 1 mile) to go factoring in backtracking. Why not jump back on the ole tram, it being so easy and all? We didn’t know which one would take us in the right direction. Hail a cab? We didn’t see a single one. 19,000 steps into the day, our dogs were barking when we finally walked through the doors of the hotel!

Our walk took us past a few Interesting-sounding museums: Museum of Bags and Purses, Prostitution Museum, two diamond museums, and the Rijksmuseum. Sadly we didn’t have time for any of them. We did see our share of scenic canals though, thousands of bicycles, interesting monuments, houseboats galore, and fun architecture. The only downside was the graffiti and small items of trash in the streets and on the sidewalks.

The reason we are in Amsterdam in the first place is to take a cruise. Just as we were getting on the tram this morning, Hettie, Ronnie, Walter, and Cleone, our cruise buddies,  were arriving at the hotel. They joined us for a casual dinner in the hotel bar. Boy were we happy they did not want to walk to a nearby restaurant!


The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in the world.

The Dutch are the second biggest (after Scandinavia) coffee consumers in the world.

Amsterdam has more canals than Venice!

The Netherlands is home to the world’s first stock exchange.

The narrowest house in Amsterdam has a facade one meter wide!


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