One more train trip and we were in the busy bustling city of Amsterdam. When I say busy, I mean busy with lots of bicycles! The centre city is built on a series of waterways criss-crossed by one way roads and pedestrian ways but are all cycling friendly. It was impossible to take a photo without a bicycle in it. I also loved how some of the terraced houses were crooked and leaning on each other! Amsterdam is great city to wander around for coffee shops, street side bars and market wandering.
One day, we took a train to a village north of Amsterdam to visit traditional windmills at Zaanse Schans. Yup – these are actual working windmills. Some were for milling spices they then sold in the store, and others were lumber mills sawing planks out of tree logs floated down the river. They were pretty neat creaking in the wind. as they turned
Amsterdam has a great reputation for its art galleries, and I managed to convince Rob to go to TWO during our trip. TWO! Firstly was the freshly refurbished Rijksmuseum which reopened in 2013 after being closed for 10 years of renovation. It’s an impressive building, from its grandeur outside (behind the amsterdam sign). The main gallery was very spacious and well laid out, with the famous ‘The Night’s Watch’ at the far end.
I also loved the Milkmaid painting and the only Van Gogh painting we could take a photo of – one of his famous self portraits.
There wasn’t just painted art at the gallery but also statues, sculptures, models and artifacts. We were quite taken by a doll house owned by a Dutch noblewoman – so realistic! All the contents were made of authentic materials (the China was actually made of China!), and the proportions are exactly correct. Pretty nifty.
Our second gallery was the iconic Van Gogh museum (which you unfortunately couldn’t take photos inside). It had a brilliant audio guide explaining his artwork chronologically and describing his life at the time. He was a terribly distraught man who travelled a lot while learning his art and art friends all over Europe, but particularly in Paris. His art was almost entirely funded by his brother but eventually, Van Gogh was overcome with depression and committed suicide. His last paintings were still beautiful and colourful, as many of his art was. If you had to go see one gallery in Amsterdam, make it this one. And buy your tickets online a few days before you go.
Lastly, we learnt something strange in the Nederlands. Did you know that there are 6 menswear stores in Holland called NZA – New Zealand Auckland? Apparently, a couple of Dutch guys went to NZ for a holiday, had a fabulous time and decided to come home and build a brand using New Zealand landscapes and general outdoors as the imagery. Really strange! But not so strange that Rob didn’t buy something. Gotta be good for tourism regardless, right?
So there you have it. A week long trip to Luxembourg and through the Nederlands. As with all of our holidays, it’s great to learn some history and explore new places. Best fact about Holland? It’s where New Zealand got its name from. There’s a watery region of Holland called Zeeland (Zealand in English) which Abel Tasman named us after. He was Dutch so of course he’d name us after a somewhere in his homeland!
We’re catching up on our blog posts now (this trip is from April…) Hopefully we don’t overload your inboxes.
Until next time…