Now that we have luggage and a good night’s rest under our belts, we’re prepared for a museum day. After breakfast and a train ride into Amsterdam, we bought pricey tram tickets to get us across town to “Museumplein,” an area in southwest Amsterdam that is flanked by the Van Gogh museum, Stedelijk Museum (modern art) and, our destination, the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum is the most visited museum in all of the Netherlands. It is packed to the rafters with pieces from all of the classic Dutch painters: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and Steen. There are even a few pieces from Van Gogh.
The most famous piece is The Night Watch by Rembrandt. It was huge!
The floors are organized by time period. Jeff split off on his own and the kids and I went to the 3rd floor to see the modern art. My favorite piece was a piece of furniture called the “Womb Tomb.” It was made to climb inside. A little risqué, don’t you think?
We spent a few hours wandering the floors, which I thought was delightful, stopping literally seconds before the girls were to perish at the hands of boredom.
After leaving the Rijksmuseum, we stopped in a pub not far from Museumplein to have a snack (and beer) before continuing on to the open-air Albert Cuyp Market.
Albert Cuyp is similar to Pike Place Market except that it is set up on the street for several blocks in front of some shops. Some of the booths are an extension of whatever is sold in the adjacent shop (fabric, clothes, souvenirs, electronics). Other booths sell homemade wares, fresh fruits & vegetables, nuts, baked goods and fresh fish and meats. Kai and Kiki enjoyed the Dutch Poffertjes pancake treats, dusted with a generous snowfall of powdered sugar.
Just a short stroll away, we sort of stumbled upon another tourist trap, the “Heineken Experience.” Set at the location of the original brewery, established in 1867, this “experience” consisted of several compartmentalized sections. We learned about the history of the brewery, the brewing process, and Heineken’s place in sponsorship of several sporting events. There was also a “ride” that puts you Magic School Bus style into the brewing process and, finally a beer tasting, complete with the sticky floor bar atmosphere. It was super touristy, but fun even for the kids. Having used up most of our day, (most things close by 5pm) we walked to the Avis shop to pick up the car that we’d have for the next two days. Jeff drove us the 20 km back to Haarlem. Thankfully the GPS spoke English and we made our way through the city streets giggling and creating alternate names for at all of the things that we could not pronounce. We found a public pay lot for €30 (whoa $$$) and then walked back to the hotel.
Jeff immediately set out for the train to get back into Amsterdam for “Secrets of the Red Light District” tour. Jeff says, “don’t bother.
“The kids and I explored the quiet town of Haarlem, stopping for a burger (Kai says the best she’s ever had) and a photo op in front of the Molen De Adriaan, Harlem’s windmill – which was definitely on the way back to the hotel, regardless of what my consistently complaining children would tell you. Once again, we arrived back to the room mere seconds before one (or both of them) died of exhaustion/boredom/learning something new.
Goddess nacho! (That’s the autocorrect of “goede nacht” – see what I mean about hilarious nonsense words that sound like real words?)