The two Dutch ‘dams pt. II: Amsterdam
This was actually the third time I visited Amsterdam, and the shortest of those trips. Which is why I’m glad I have already had the chance to visit the Van Gogh Museum (well, technically just their collection in another building, but still) and the Rijksmuseum (twice, since the first time it was being renovated, at the same time as the Van Gogh Museum… not the best trip, that, museum-wise). Of the “big three” there would still be the Stedelijk Museum, but somehow I haven’t been that interested in it. I think I have only lately started to realize that not all modern art is necessarily weird and, in my opinion, kinda bovine excrement. So maybe next time I’ll go visit that one. And at least then I can say I’ve been there, too, if nothing else!
I have also done a canal cruise (twice: same boat, different people), visited the KattenKabinett (or the Cat Museum), the Anne Frank House (I heard now you can book your ticket online, but if you haven’t done that, go early, later the queues are insane), NEMO Science Museum, one of the at least two different sex museums in Amsterdam, and the Heineken experience, the last of which was recommended to me by someone who studied event organization. Apparently the school used the Heineken Experience as an example on how to do things well. And based on my experience as a non-beer-drinker (at least back then, have added to my bad habits since), it really was interesting and even at times informative.
I have, of course, also visited the Artis zoo in Amsterdam, but I cannot really recommend it. It made me mostly just sad, as the animals seemed very stressed and the enclosures were mostly very, very small. Not sure what the situation is now, as it may have been upgraded in the last 5+ years, and I really hope it has.
Outside of the zoo, I don’t think I have had any really bad experiences in Amsterdam. I’ve stayed in a fancy hotel (way out of city centre), a hostel (but in a private room), and a cheap hotel (in the city centre). I haven’t had any complaints about any of them. Same goes for most of the museums, restaurants and bars. I feel like the restaurants are the most likely ones to disappoint, because I often get my hopes way too high. So it might be at least partially a “me” issue.
The main reason I was in town, this time with a bunch of friends, was to see Tool. A band none of us had thought we would ever see live, and had been waiting for… well, in my case, ever since I started to listen to them, which was some 15 years ago. And since we were going to go to Amsterdam anyway, we figured we might as well make it a “weekend” trip in the middle of the week. The concert itself was on a Tuesday, after all. A few nights, a few days of strolling around, and the gig in the middle. I, of course, I had by then fudged up my own plans sort of by accident and had to leave early on the last day, leaving the rest of the group entertain themselves (which they managed just fine, as usual), as I had a flight to Canada to catch…
So on this trip we skipped the big museums, and instead mostly just ambled around, soaking up the city itself. The only museum we visited was the Rembrandt House. I hadn’t really even realized it was a thing until the other girl of our group was saying she would like to go there. So we did, as the whole trip was her idea, as she had never been in Amsterdam before. We also went on the canal cruise since she wanted to do that, and I believe most of us enjoyed that surprisingly much. Even if it was impossible to hear half of the announcements. Bad sound quality on that boat, boo.
We were also supposed to go visit the Botanical Gardens, but we found out, to my dismay, after walking all the way there, that it was a rather expensive experience. I’m somehow way too used to the outside park area of Botanical Gardens to be free, as that is usually the way the Finnish ones work, and then you just pay for the greenhouse part. I felt a bit guilty for dragging everyone that far, especially as it was a really warm day, and we were all a bit tired and cranky as it was. But I think they forgave me, at least after some snacks and drinks.
I feel like this trip was maybe the most relaxing Amsterdam trip I have had, even with the oopses of bad planning. Maybe it was the company, maybe it was because I, for once, had no over-the-top plans to visit ALL THE MUSEUMS, or maybe a bit of both. But I do feel like I’d still have a lot of things I want to see and experience in Amsterdam, like that Stedelijk Museum. And maybe check out NEMO again, as the last time was quite a few years ago, and I’m sure they have upgraded stuff since then.
And then there is all the food I would still want to try. And all the amazing parks. And the trendy but somehow still welcoming bars. And the locals who are usually super nice even though the city seems to be drowning in confused, drunk and/or stoned tourists, especially near the Red Light District area (which looks amazing in the night, but make sure you don’t listen to what other people around you are saying, if you do not wish to lose all faith in mankind, where focus is on the word “man”). Amsterdam just is a gift that keeps on giving.
And for the more nerdy people: Make sure to check out if the PopCult shops (which does not seem to have an actual website, silly buggers) have something that interests you, and, if you are into board games, make sure to visit Friends & Foes, even if it is a bit out of the way from the usual tourist fare. Excellent service there, and apparently also possibilities to try out some of their board games on certain days. The website seems to have a calendar for it, but not sure how up-to-date it usually is.
So, umm, yeah. I guess I didn’t do much on that trip. But there is only so much one CAN do with a bigger group without pre-planned schedules. And for me there was only one afternoon/evening and one almost full day (with the concert in the evening) to spend on anything, anyway. So, next time more planning and maybe a smaller group of people, even if it is sometimes fun to travel in a bigger group. I just have the bad habit of trying to make sure everyone enjoys whatever it is we do… which means hours spent discussing what to do, heh. And sometimes it is impossible to please everyone, because everyone has their own interests.
But Amsterdam beware: I will be back! …Again.