Sunday, 29 March 2015

Amsterdam - boats, canals and parks

We returned our bicycles to the hire shop, and caught the Nr. 10 tram which goes around the outer ring of the city. We got out at the Elandsgracht stop and walked the two blocks to the canal to visit the House Boat Museum (Woonbootmuseum) - The Hendrika Maria-  at Prinsengracht 296 in the Jordaan district.

Boats are an integral part of Amsterdam life, and the canals are full of these barges of various sizes, some even have gardens and garages can you believe that?
The museum was interesting to visit so we could get an idea what it's like to live inside, although this was an old boat previously used for cargo, so not the typical residential boat.

Boats, large and small dot the wider canals of Amsterdam

Entry fee to the museum is 4,50 euros, free to I'Amsterdam city card holders, the boat only opens certain days of the week, depending on the time of the year, so check their site.

I think you have to be super organized and have few possessions to be able to live in such confinement, so not for me!
Nowadays these boats are connected to the main electrical, water supply and even pay rates and taxes. What actually amazed me were crazy prices these boats fetch on the Real Estate market, some were more expensive than an apartment! 
The Hendrika-Maria houseboat

The kitchen and dining room
The sunny lounge

Check the prices of houseboats!!
This boat even has very artistic statues at both ends, a bbq and patio chairs...
Just across from the Houseboat museum on the corner of Prinsengracht and Elandsgracht is a Square unofficially named - Johnny Jordaanplein. Johnny was a folk singer who lived in the Jordaan district, and upon his death money was raised to honour him with a statue (1991). Later the statues of 4 other musicians were added. 

We cross two canals towards the city to visit the Museum of the Canals (Het Grachtenhuis). This museum housed in a beautiful 17th century building that belonged to a wealthy merchant, at Hereengracht 386, brings to life in 40 minutes the story of the canals around the city, where trading has taken place, festivals are celebrated and life is lived inside the boats from 1600 until recent times.

Entry costs 12 Euros, free to City card holders, and the museum is opened from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday and is worthwhile a visit!

The huge entrance door and impressive hall
Houses built on pylons driven into the canals
Replica of a house and garden where you could see inside the furnished rooms
The city and it's canals in 3D

Very fancy high ceiling rooms with fireplaces, chandeliers and lots of wide windows
The visitors bathroom had a tile freeze depicting Hereengracht buildings

At this stage our daughter joined us and we walked back to Prinsengracht (where we had visited the house boat museum) as we would like to visit the Anne Frank House at nr. 263. Apparently you can buy tickets online and avoid the the huge queues, but we hadn't done that. The wait period was over an hour and a half and we decided we wouldn't wait and went to buy lunch from food caravans on the Westerkerk square, close to Anne Frank's house.
Westerkerk - a Protestant church built in the 17th century, where Rembrandt is buried

The lamps by the Westerkerk also have the blue crown at the top matching the Church

By the Westermarket, there is a memorial dedicated to Niek Engelschman, a Dutch actor, resistance fighter in WWII and a gay activist, who was born in Amsterdam in 1913 and died in 1988.
The monument honours all gay and lesbians subjected to persecution due to their homosexuality.

It was a sunny day and decided to walk for about 30min until Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam which received 10 million visitors a year.
It's a lovely park with ponds, statues, kids play areas, etc and we found a lovely coffee shop and sat down with some drinks enjoying the sun and the birds.
This area also houses high-end shops and expensive old apartment buildings.

On the way there we went past a lovely square where hundreds of people enjoyed the sunshine at the outdoor cafes.
Enjoying the  sunshine
One of the Vondelpark's lakes
The outdoor tables and a fireplace in the Coffee shop we went to
After our coffee break we walked to the Rijksmuseum nearby. 
It's probably one of the most important museums and the most popular too, but my husband had enough of museums by now. 
So we just went past to take photos of the "IAmsterdam" sign in front of the museum, which proved to be as popular as the Museum, with people jumping on the letters and doing all sorts of poses. We still took photos, but can hardly be seen among the crowd!

The museum opens daily from 9am to 5pm and entry costs 17,50 euros and the City card only gives you a 2,50 euro discount.
On the Museum Square (Museumplein) a man-made pond was transformed into an ice-rink and lots of kids were enjoying themselves.
My husband and I standing in front of the S

The ice-rink in front of the Museum
The other side of the Rijksmuseum
From the Museum we walked south along the canal until we reached Holland's largest street market with 260 market stands -  the Albert Cuyp market in the Pijp District.
Here you can buy fruit and vegetables, flowers and other plants, cheese, fish, bread and cakes, fabrics, clothing, leather goods and jewellery.
We bought some strawberries and a packet of stroopwafel (syrup waffle) a typical Dutch biscuit. I couldn't help notice the fish was very good and well priced and the fruit was very cheap compared to our Australian prices.
Market stands
Fish, fruit & vegetables and cheese
Shoe shop
It was time to go home, and while my husband and I caught the tram home, my daughter went to hire a rental car so that she could drive us to a lovely village the next day.

Later that night we went to dinner at Odessa Restaurant, housed in a boat which is moored on the canal just metres from my daughter's apartment building in Rietlandpark, in Amsterdam's east.
A lovely experience once again, and it was nice to know that the young owner is half-Portuguese, and actually spoke the language relatively well for someone who was born and bred in Amsterdam.
Odessa Restaurant in the 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Amsterdam - Science, Animals and a taste of Brasil

A wet, foggy and miserable day, but we decided we would take our bikes into town and were joined by our daughter who had taken the day off work.

First stop the Zoo - Artis - surrounded by canals on all sides, it's located almost in the city centre in the Plantage district
The entry fee of 19,95 Euros is quite steep, but it was free for holders of the City card. You can buy a map of the zoo for a few extra euro.

I'm not a great fan of zoos, as I feel sorry for some of the bigger animals who don't seem to have enough space to roam around. Here for example I thought the elephants, giraffes and even the ostriches displayed behaviours of caged animals and their enclosures were too small and bare. They had a lot of smaller type monkeys which I had never seen.
Mountain goats
The cheeky monkeys eat fruit upside-down
The elephant enclosure
The huge Pelicans
The camels
The huge turtles

The lion enclosure

This coin operated kids cart was quite interesting

There was a tropical enclosure, with butterflies that was quite amazing. 
The butterflies flitted around quite quickly and it was quite difficult to capture them in a picture. 
There were other pavilions with an Aquarium, Bird house, Aviary, an even a Planetarium. 

The tropical enclosure and butterfly garden
Fruit for the butterflies

Next to the Zoo, you can also visit - Micropia - a museum of microbes, which opened in October last year, but by the time we finished with the zoo, we were hungry and decided to rather go and have lunch across the road.

On our bikes again, we rode to the Science Center - Nemo - housed in a futuristic building in the harbour district of Oosterdok, this science and technology interactive museum over 5 levels will keep kids occupied for a few hours! 
There is a roof terrace from where you can get a great view over the city, but it was closed as a restaurant is being built up there.

Nemo Science Museum

Entry costs 15 euros, once again free for City card holders, and is open from 10am to 5,30pm, and closed on Mondays except during school holidays and from May to August.

Being school holidays it was packed to the roof with kids and their parents, but we still enjoyed trying out some of the experiments.  

I was amazed at the Cloakroom which every museum seems to have, but this one was huge and had at least 3 or 4 people working there! 

From this cloak room you can see the number of visitors....
Next was an in and out visit to the National Maritime Museum, just a short ride from Nemo, as they were about to close, and I just wanted to photograph the replica of the "Amsterdam", the Dutch East India Company vessel which sank in a storm in 1749 off the English channel, on the way to Batavia (now Indonesia).  Entry is also 15 euros, free for City Card holders.
This ship is also quite popular with kids.
The Maritime museum seen from Nemo Science Museum
The entrance hall of the Maritime Museum with the glass ceiling

Nemo Science Museum seen from the Maritime Museum


On the way home we went past the shop from where we hired our bicycles to hand them in, but the shop was closed on Thursdays, so we had to return the next morning.

At night we went by tram to the De Pijp district, just south of the city, to a Brazilian restaurant near the Albert Cuyp street market which we planned to visit the following day.

Samba Kitchen, was modern but homely. They had a rodizio (all you can eat meat buffet), salads, etc. for 27,50 euros which included a Caipirinha to start with, but not the wines.

The caipirinhas were prepared right in front of us which made for an interesting display, the staff were friendly and when we told them we were Portuguese they came over and chatted to us. (Forgot to take photos of the whole procedure and the meats...)

Image result for caipirinha de kiwi e morango
Kiwi and Strawberry Caipirinha (photo from net)

Here you can see a Youtube video about Samba restaurant. If you a a meat fan this is the ideal restaurant, for me it's a bit of a waste as I'm not such a great meat eater...

Thursday, 26 February 2015