Amsterdam

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
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Trip End Apr 19, 2007


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Monday, April 9, 2007

Everyone I know who had been to Amsterdam, have nothing but good things to say about it.  The Red Light Districts and Coffeeshops, juxtaposed with the beautiful water ways made up of the canals and the cultural heritage this city has to offer ... my first thoughts were that, 'Gosh! I can so live here!'  :-)



Taking away the days that I am on course, I have about only 2 days to really get to see the city.  But somehow, I felt I managed to see and do quite a lot within those 2 days ... or was it that my concept of time was warped in this city ... go figure! :-)

I'll just mention some of the places I've or things that I feel are worth mentioning.


Museumplein

At the head of Musuemplein is the Rijksmusuem.



A large and historic building faces you when you look at it from the field in the centre of museumplein, but only a small section to the left of the building is open as the rest is undergoing renovations.  Hence, no 5,000 paintings from the flemish masters for one to admire ... not till 2008 anyway.  The Nightwatch by Rembrandt is on display nonetheless, so a visit is still worth it.


Next, Van Gogh Museum.



A must visit for all Van Gogh lovers, or lovers of impressionists' works.  Not a very big museum but contains about 200 over paintings by the master. 


Given that the other major musuem there, the Stedelijk Museum is completely closed for renovations, one does not need to allocate too much time to the museum quarter.  About 3-4 hrs for the 2 musuems combined would suffice.  One should take a little time out and sit at the cobra cafe an enjoy the view across the field, where people are enjoying all sorts of leisure activities from picnics to playing football, or just having their kids run around the park.


The Concertgebouw

Attended a concert there on friday night, performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  I shan't say much, cos no amount of lyrical that I can wax (not sure if that's a correct way to use this idiom ... don't care) can do justice to their performance.  One just need to listen to them.  They are just that damn good!  :-)



A highlight of attending this concert though was to see how friendly the people are.  During the intermission, I was standing by the window looking out into Museumplein when a couple chatted with me and when I told them I was from Singapore they enthused about the 'Big Durian' of a concert hall that we have ... hahah ... they also told me to try to visit the Metz Cafe along Leidsegraat where one could get a pretty nice view of the city over a cup of coffee ... So what can I say?  Good music, nice people ... made my day ...

But wait ... for this was topped by my return to the concert hall (Concertgebouw) on Sunday morning. I had booked a tour of the premises which are conducted on Sunday mornings.  When I arrived, I was told that I was the VIP of the day as I was going to get a private and personalised tour ... what happened was no one else booked a tour that day, and they had wanted to cancel it, but had no way of reaching me since I did not live in Amsterdam.  Hence, they decided to go ahead with the tour anyway.  Whoo hoo!! 

The guide (who's name I have unfortunately forgotten) gave me a very nice account of history of the hall that was completed in 1888 ... demostrated to me the great acoustics the hall had to offer (stood in the middle of the main hall and shouted out ... and no double echoes ... hee hee), showed me the conductors and soloist chambers, the groundfloor storage, attic, etc. etc., and explained to me which hall it was modeled after and why the floor of the corridors were slanted ... I ain't gonna say it all here ... go book a tour yourself to find out ... or a cheaper option would be to buy me a drink :-) *burp*

A funny incident happened though ... he took me to the private box which are only used by the owners of the hall during concert days ... I put my head out and saw that I was on stage left, and look right at Murray Perahia, who was rehearsing for that night's performance.  I quickly popped my head back in and my guide told me after that ... 'oh no ... I hope he did not see us.  Murray Perahia is known to be a difficult man ... doesn't like any disturbance while he practices ... but oh well ... I don't care ... hahah'.  I really do hope he did not get into any trouble ... will drop them a note to thank him for the 'private tour'.  :-)




Other noteworthy places that I viisted would be the Anne Frank Huis (go first thing when they open, else you'll be faced with queueing for at least one hour), the Bloemenmarkt, Albert Cuypmarkt (whatever sourvenirs you want to buy, buy it there for its way cheaper than anywhere else), Canal Cruise, etc.  Have put in some descriptions in the photo album. 


During the course, after dinner, I'd hang out with some of my course mates and we'd walk the red light district and stop for a drink at one of the pubs there ... very fun people to hang out with ... so Kirill, Vahid, Alex, Michael, Phillip, Oliver and Meda (our lovely lady in the group), thank-you all for a wonderful time spent together.  Hope we meet again in the future.

:-)
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