Saturday, June 2, 2012

Two Cities, Day 5: Amsterdam

I bought an "I amsterdam" card after hearing about it from several friends and looking at all the options the card offers. It is amazing, and if you go to Amsterdam, look into it. It offers free entrance into many places, free food, free gifts, discounted items, discounted entrance fees, public transport card, and a free canal boat ride!

Holland International Canal Cruise!

That large building on the right is the Science Center NEMO
I went there toward the end of my trip, but thought I would include a pic of the strange looking outside of it from when I saw it from the canal boat. 

This is some famous bridge, but I can't remember what it's called! Sorry!

This is in the ritzy part of town! That home is huge. Many homes are less than three meters wide. 

Most homes are this size.
And they all have hooks at the top for raising furniture to the upper levels because the staircases were not built for moving anything in. 

One of the churches. 

Westerkerk was built between 1620 and 1631. 

Just cruisin' around in a huge boat with a captain who could navigate the tiniest areas to make a 90 degree turn. 

So many bikes! I love it!

Found my way to an old canal home that was transformed into a church during the time of prohibition of religious gatherings.

On one of the lower levels, a beautifully ornate cabinet. 

Apparently, people slept sitting up because, at the time, they thought that laying flat could cause blood to rush to the head -- causing instant death. 

The upper three levels of the home were turned into a clandestine church. 

I cannot tell you how scary it was to walk along those upper bridges, it felt like the floor would cave at any moment. Many support beams had been taken out to make the church so large. 

The house just to the left of the alley is the church home. 
At least 200 would come to the Sunday church service (while it was prohibited) and they would leave through an alley entrance. Police knew what was going on, but the owner of the house was a wealthy marine merchant, so the police let it happen to keep his money around. 

Well, it was off to dinner. My first sushi dinner in months!!

It was wonderful! Unfortunately, they didn't take plastic, and I didn't find this out until after I finished eating. So I left my purse there and ran to an ATM to get some cash. It was awkward. 

After being a tourist for awhile and taking advantage of many of the I amsterdam card benefits, I also went to see Rembrandt's house, called Museum Het Rembrandthuis. Rembrandt is Holland's most renowned artist. 

From the brochure at Rembrandt Huis:
Rembrandt bought the house on the Jodenbreestraat in 1639, when he was at the height of his fame. In 1656 he went bankrupt because he could not pay his debts. Everything of value in his house was sold at auction, including a large collection of art and rare objects. A notary drew up a list of his possessions. This is why we know how the house was furnished in Rembrandt's time.  

His kitchen. 

The other side of the kitchen. 

Just having fun!

Christus en de schriftgeleerden
Christ disputing with the doctors
The twelve-year-old Jesus debates with the teachers of the scriptures in the temple. Rembrandt has used his considerable powers of invention to portray the scholar's sceptical (sic) reactions to the arguments of the self-assured boy. 

Zelfportret, schetsend bij het raam
Self-portrait, sketching at window
In this self-portrait we see the artist sitting at the window in his working clothes. In this eighteenth-century impression the plate has undergone reworking by another hand. 

My day was wonderful. Just being around the Dutch felt like being home. There's still more to come in Amsterdam!

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