One thing I really wanted to do while I was in the Netherlands was to take the trip out to Oostvaardersplassen, a nature reserve on reclaimed land that is an attempt to re-wild Europe with a wild grassland. Apparently, you can't really go until May though, so I scratched that off my list. Happily, Amsterdam is a place I can keep coming back to and I'm sure I will get to it one day.
Never mind, plenty else to see and do. The Rijksmusuem is coming to the end of a 10-year renovation and has a very limited collection on display, and the Van Gogh Museum relocated most of their collection to the Hermitage down the street, but neither disappoints.
The Dutch painters were always my favorites. I love their super realistic still-lifes and their dark palates. It just made everything else cartoonish.
You really feel like you are peering into an open window with some of these, and not standing in front of an canvas.
Oh, Vermeer. The details are just brilliant.
Oh, and I found a super cute yarn shop:
Another great museum was the Nemo:
We only went in because we walked all the way over to it and just might as well. It's a children's science museum, but it was fascinating both inside and out.
Because it's the super-progressive Netherlands, they can have exhibits all about sex!
And I mean, ALL ABOUT IT. Trying to be mature in this place was a herculean tasks, and giggling was mandatory.
This was in the 12+ section. I totally saw a museum worker throw some eight year olds.
It was hilarious that this was in a children's museum. Oh, America. Nothing to see here. Keep your children ignorant as long as possible, it always works out for the best. Right?
And drugs, too!
It wasn't the attitude of, "don't do it", but more of, "this is what will happen when you do take drugs". So there was a virtual woman dancing on a computer screen, and you could feed her more drugs or a cocktail of drugs, and her dancing either got really crazy or really messy before she eventually dropped. So entertaining. It's apparently a bad idea to mix speed with mushrooms and booze, and too much coke gave her a nosebleed.
Since the weather was just peachy, there was also a great maritime museum nearby.
The Dutch have such a long and lustrous history of seafaring, so it's worth checking out. They were the first to trade with the Japanese, giving the people of Japan a very dutch-centric view of European cultures. You can really see the connection in the art as well- especially with Van Gogh. Which reminds me, I have to get to the Japanese/Van Gogh exhibit in Paris as it closes this week!
It was nice to see that Paris wasn't hogging all the clouds for herself.
Most of the canal-side old houses had a lean to them- some alarmingly so.
I was told that if it was leaning forward towards the canal, it was constructed like that on purpose to add a few more square feet to the footprint. The buildings leaning to one side means the pillars they are sitting upon are starting to shift and rot. It seems like an expensive problem here, as some of them were really giving their neighbors something to fret about.
Rembrant's former house is now a museum:
It's a cute house and they did a nice job with restoration, but most of art inside were repros or sketches.
People here seemed genuinely nice and helpful, although they seemed weary of certain types of tourists. Understandably.
We found several cozy places to rest our feet, caffeinate or imbibe.
French wines were standard issue here, but they really dug on Belgian beers. I drink my oh-so-girly cherry lambic when need arose.