|I suppose I'm obligated to lead with the fact that I was hit by a car in this city... engendering just a tad of bitterness on my part. It really was more of a tap; I was attempting to cross the street and this car was backing up for some reason. Into me. And I just kept walking since I figure you know, now that it's backed into me the driver is probably gonna stop... Nah, he did not, he just kept backing up so I ended up getting lightly hit a couple more times (it was a very crowded and slow-moving crosswalk). It wasn't that bad. First time for everything.
Anyhow, I lived in the Netherlands for six months and visited Amsterdam probably twice a month. I lived about half an hour away by train; unfortunately the pricing system for non-citizens is a TOTAL scam, no other way to put it. But it's a bit of a necessary evil since Amsterdam is a major cultural center with all the museums and historic sites. The tram system is pretty easy to navigate as long as you already have the transit card, plus you can just walk through most of the major points of interest starting from the train station.
It's definitely majorly tourist-oriented in the busy areas, with apparently more tourists than residents in the city most days. So there are a bunch of souvenir shops filled with the stereotypical clogs, tulips, drug paraphernalia, etc. I personally love big cities and seeing different people from all over the world, so the chaos doesn't really bother me. Everyone I encountered in Amsterdam spoke excellent English (they even tend to speak English to you initially at shops or restaurants, whereas in the city I lived in it was always Dutch).
On my first visit to Amsterdam in January (with my mom), we stayed in De Pijp area of the city, which is much more calm and residential than anywhere near the station or Museumplein, but we were still able to walk over to the Van Gogh Museum in probably 15 minutes. Van Gogh is certainly a major cash cow for the Dutch these days; I tend to get sad when I think about artists whose entire lives were a struggle and then hundreds of years later become coasters and scarves. But I thought the Van Gogh museum was decent; it covers his biography, early works, then major and distinctive works and includes pieces by both contemporaries of Van Gogh and later artists who were inspired by him. Don't even try to take a picture of the sunflowers though or a security guard will not hesitate to tackle you and go through your phone's photos (you can take a picture of the other Van Gogh sunflowers in London's National Gallery though!).
The biggest museum in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum and it can be wildly overwhelming if you don't have a plan of attack (which I didn't). I found it pretty confusing to navigate and ended up in the giant room of Rembrandts about six different times while trying to find other floors. The collection is genuinely enormous and evocative of the Dutch "Golden Age" as a global empire-- it's such a massive collection of wealth and was pretty difficult for me to comprehend. Imperial history aside, I was most impressed by the beautiful "Milkmaid" painting by Vermeer and also looked through the basement exhibitions, which featured a lot of tiny trinkets and jewelry items.
I went with my mom to the Anne Frank house which I cannot recommend highly enough; I hadn't really felt much interest in visiting beforehand but once I got inside, the experience was so powerful and emotional that I cried during my entire walk through. Just go. Besides that, another museum I frequented was the EYE Filmmuseum which you arrive at by way of a beautiful free ferry ride from the central station. The permanent exhibition of the museum focuses mainly on early film history, while the rotating exhibitions are installations done by more modern artists. I mainly went for the classic screenings and the cinephile-oriented gift shop. A few other theaters I visited were Het Ketelhuis, Lab111, Filmtheater Kriterion, and I wanted to go to De Uitkijk but never got the chance!
All in all, Amsterdam is definitely a picturesque city, what with the canals, flowerpots, brick buildings, and the like. There's a ton of history-- tulip and diamond industries, World War II, red light district, etc, and a combination of access to every name-brand store or common restaurant in addition to a huge variety of unique shops if you venture out to the quieter areas, which I wholeheartedly recommend! Please just watch out for bikes!
|Bed hopping vs world war. Who will win?|
|Charming in its playfulness. Too many scenes of people yelling at each other for me to love it. The movie within the movie is the real gem, in my opinion. I wish I could run as fast as the wizard, looks like fun.
Speaking of "Miami Vice" (see my previous "Miami Vice" review), how fun was it to see Tubbs! And I don't mean the actor who played Tubbs. I'm convinced this police officer is in fact the very same character who later transfers to the Vice Department in Miami.