Hello from Holland! Our day began bright and early with a 5 am wake-up call. We showered and ran out the door of the Hotel Metropole. The running continued at the train station as we jumped on the Thalys training without a minute to spare. Once the train started moving, we both fell asleep as we traveled through Antwerp and Rotterdam. When we arrived in Amsterdam, we got oriented and checked into our next hotel — Citizen M Amsterdam City. This particular hotel has a modern Ikea vibe. Half of the room is taken up by a square extra-long King size bed. The other half has two glass capsules — one with a shower and the other with a commode. You can adjust the light color for both the capsules using the room’s mood-pad. I am calling this our spaceship room.
After checking in, we got some breakfast at a cafe and decided to hop on a canal cruise to start exploring the city. Joe’s first impression of Amsterdam was that it reminded him of Minneapolis. It’s not too hot and not too cold. The city feels very clean and new. I was pretty surprised — I was really expecting something with more of a New Orleans vibe, but I haven’t felt that way so far. There are bicycles and canal boats everywhere you turn. There’s modern architecture in some neighborhoods while others contain long lines of tall, skinny historic homes with gabled roofs.
The city natives speak Dutch to one another, but it seems like everyone also speaks flawless English to out-of-towners. The canal tour included a narration that looped in 4 different languages.
After the tour, we did a little more exploring on foot. We wandered the flower market, which offers every variety of flower bulb. I wish I had some room in my suitcase for the “Queen of the Night’ black tulip bulbs! We also toured some cheese shops, sampling all the locally made varieties — again, more room in the suitcase would be great!
After shopping, we headed in to tour the Van Gogh museum. Vincent is one of my favorite artists, so I was really looking forward to touring all 4 floors of his work. The curators of this particular museum did an amazing job of creating exhibits that draw you into the story of Van Gogh’s life. While I think a lot of his life story is common knowledge, I felt I was hearing about it all for the first time, sort of like when you read a good novel or see a good movie about a historical event. One thing I was surprised to learn that Van Gogh wasn’t actually a self-taught prodigy. He actually struggled to develop his artistic talent and often relied on artistic tools that were frowned upon by other artists. He also engaged a number of meticulous processes to develop his masterpiece, often creating multiple practice paintings on site before even starting the version inside his studio. His style swung like a pendulum, starting out exclusively with dull, almost black earth tones before swiftly transitioning into the century’s first modern colorist. I was thrilled with this particular museum!
Next, we hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for supper. The restaurant is located right on the canal and we got a table with a great view of the water. We are back at the hotel now and getting ready to watch a movie and rest up for tomorrow. Good night all!