Here’s the thing about my stopover in Amsterdam: by the time I got to this city, I was exhausted. Pride Week meant that the city was more crowded than it normally would have been. I wanted to be in Berlin and not in the Netherlands. I didn’t want to deal with the marijuana tourists and I didn’t want to meet any Americans, nor did I want to speak English. Turns out, I didn’t have to deal with any Americans, and the English I spoke was with Australian and U.K. tourists (with which the cup of Amsterdam overfloweth). That was fine.
The three nights I spent in the hostel were some of my best, though, and my visit to the insanely crowded city was one of my best city trips of the whole summer holiday. I finished a draft of the book I’ve been working on, I slept well and without any disturbance. I ate good breakfasts and began and finished reading three Philip K. Dick novels.
[I have the thought that I’ll write longer reviews of each of the hostels I visited on this trip (I’m up to twenty in the last few years, plus six or seven apartments I rented but will not review here).]
The Rijksmuseum has been on my list for a few years now, and I’m glad I made it a priority to ride the train into the city, ride a tram for several blocks, and realize the tram was not going anywhere ever, given the traffic situation…. and use the power of my feet to propel me over to the museum. I had no map with me, a disoriented sense of direction, and the crowds were unsettling me. I made it just fine and loved wandering somewhat without aim through the neighborhoods and along the canals, studiously avoiding the largest of mobs.
The surprise highlight in the Rijksmuseum was the ships. That’s right – Rembrandt and Van Gogh be damned. The ultra-famous artists’ paintings were neato, sure – but the model ships are where it’s at. That was the trip I came for but didn’t recognize as the purpose until after I had found myself staring in dumbfounded amazement.
I wasn’t too impressed with the Night Watch painting, either, to be perfectly honest, but the massive painting depicting the meeting of Prussian and English commanders at Waterloo blew me away. It was the size in height of the room, which I wonder about – was it built to fit the painting? Seemed that way. The ships, though. They were built to scale, included full rigging and anchors, and were – many of them, at least – huge. There was one large one on the second floor. This caught my interest more than almost anything else in the museum, so I made sure to visit the special exhibition on the ground floor before I left. I was not disappointed. Paintings depicting events in Ancient Rome were also among my favorites.
I hope to return to Amsterdam when it’s not so crowded.