Tuesday, August 4, 2009
St Nicholas Boat Club, The Rijksmuseum, & The Torture Museum
Very cool day. Instead of taking the big tour boats I had researched a bit & found this very cool boat that you have to go sign up for in person a day ahead of time. The hotel I'm in is in the old center of the city, near to the Red-Light District. St. Nick's Boat Club; http://www.amsterdamboatclub.com/, is in Leidseplein, a bit south & west of where I am staying. Maybe about 2 miles away. We walk down down to Boom Chicago; a comedy club where, under the stairs, is a little book where you sign up for a boat. This group encourages everyone to bring food, drink, & be merry while we see yet another side of this multi-layered city. A far more intimate look at the canals is provided--slower, longer--a chance to glance into the houseboats & view people's lives. The big canal cruises miss the smaller, quiter canals. I highly recommend this tour!
I have done a ton of walking for this trip--that is a very good thing, not just the health aspect--it's easy to do it here--everybody walks or rides a bike for the most part. I have found that one of the few times we hailed a cab, I have felt something intrinsically missing from not walking the route--is it the very pungent smell that seems to be the backbone of this city or is it the enmeshed interactions on the streetcorners, cafes, coffeehouses, & on bikes. The things people do here on their bikes! It is unbelieveable. Riding with cell phones to their ears & not a helmet in sight. Girls perched on the back of their boyfriend's bike as he whips around the corner, women in 4-inch heels! Even riding down the road with a beer to their lips--Amstel & not Light--the real stuff.
Next was the Rijksmuseum--Rembrandt & Vermeer--the height of the Dutch East India Company. And finally, the Torture Museum--a little out of the way nugget of a museum that seem to be all over the city. There's even a Vodka Museum here.
I must admit, I've become enamored with this city. Tomorrow I leave it for two days to explore Brussels. And then back to a day in Amsterdam on Friday--our last one. I am excited about the Thalys--the hi-speed train.