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Amsterdam and Arnhem

I left for Amsterdam on May 8 for work and returned May 19. I had the weekend of May 14 and 15 off; some of my friends from work suggested going to the Arnhem to the Open Air Museum (Openluchtmuseum), so I took the train there on Saturday; the sneltrain (fast train) takes one hour and only stops a few times.

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The train ticket to Arnhem Centraal from
Amsterdam Centraal – its a day ticket

After arriving a bought a map of Arnhem from the bookstore in the train station and got a cab to the museum. I asked at the desk how best to get back – he suggested walking at 30 minutes. At the end I asked the woman in the store who said I could walk or catch a bus outside.

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The ticket for the Openluchtmuseum

The museum opened in 1918. It was modeled on similar museums around Scandinavia. The museum has buildings that have been relocated from all over The Netherlands; they date from the 1400’s through to the 1800’s. There are demonstrations of how people did things “back then”, and a small museum of traditional dress. One thing I learned from the museum is that The Netherlands has a rich heritage and a multitude of cultures, including influences from its colonies (there is an area dedicated to the Moluccans for example).

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This old building is blue washed to keep down flys –
there’s a pig sty out back
A traditional bridge – some like this are still used in
Amsterdam and other cities
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A weaver’s shop
Inside a windmill
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The papermill
The water wheel of the papermill turns the machinery to do work
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Hammers crushing pulp and rags in the papermill
The gnome garden – don’t ask me….
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The large windmill; above is a view inside it.

I walked all over the grounds. I had poffertjes for lunch – these are small pancakes with butter, syrup and sugar if you wish; a traditional dish in The Netherlands. The square the stand sits on has traditional toys such as wire loops and old style bicycles for kids to play with.

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The poffertjes stand at the Open Air Museum

I’m glad I went – I may go to Arnhem again to see the Muller Museum (modern art) and visit the Open Air Museum again. But, I would take the bus back to the city next time – I walked, and it is indeed a 30 minute stroll back to Arnhem Centrum, next time I’ll take the bus, especially since it lets you out at the station. I had a hard time finding the Centraal station – seemed that no one I asked actually knew where it was! The police were out in force – turned out there was a neo-nazi demonstration and a counter demonstration happening that day.

On the way back to the hotel from Centraal Station, I first stopped at the Prostitution Information Center (PIC), then at the Oude Kerk to see the World Press Photo 2005 show.

I’ve wanted to visit the PIC ever since I learned about it – where else in the world can you find a place to go to learn about the sex industry, and who else would be tolerant enough to allow such a thing, even provide support. Openness and tolerance (and the friendliness of the people, possibly related to the other two) are why I love Amsterdam so much! I purchased a few pamphlets and a book (all in English!).

The World Press Photo show was really amazing – I was tired by the time I got here but I still spent over a half hour browsing the photographs (probably would have spent more time if there were fewer people, a little more space and weren’t so tired).

On Sunday I decided to visit some of the museums in Amsterdam that I’d either never visited or had new shows up that were interesting. I started by walking to the Amsterdam waterfront and visiting the Stedelijk Museum.

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The temporary home of the Stedelijk Museum on the waterfront

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The ticket for the Stedelijk – note that ABN AMRO Bank is a partner

Finding the museum is interesting – you have to walk out on the metal walkway past the floating Chinese restaurant to get to it, and its surrounded by construction. This is a museum of modern art; their collection is quite nice; most appreciated was the english language map and exhibit guide. There were two exhibits up, one of the main collection (works from 1874 – 2004) and Populism. The Populism show didn’t thrill me – its an attempt to show the values of populism using various bits of modern art, and I didn’t think the show hung together well.

Then I walked back east, stopping for lunch at a Glatt Kosher restaurant, King Solomon’s, on Waterlooplein.

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The business card for King Solomon

I then continued to the Hermitage Amsterdam, which had a nice little show of 18th century Venetian paintings. The show was okay; a lot of art from Tiepolo and Canaletto and some associated Venetian objects. But, the space is very small (two floors of six rooms total) and there was no very famous, special piece to center the show around.

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The ticket for the Hermitage Amsterdam

After stopping by the hotel to drop off books and rest, I walked over to the Van Gogh Museum.

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The entrance to the Van Gogh Museum

There was quite a line when I queued up at about 15:30. I breezed through the main standing exhibit of the museum’s work – I’d seen much of it 7 or so years ago. I did spend time walking through the exhibit of prints from the Stedelijk Museum; yes, the same museum I visited in the morning. There were at least six prints from Odilon Redon, a great turn of the century symbolist artist; his work is rarely on display and I spent a while browsing the prints and pastels. Finally I went to the featured show of work by Austrian expressionist artist Egon Schiele. I bought the catalog – the work is quite tortured as only a good Austrian or German expressionist can torture art.

By the end of the day my legs really hurt – I had walked to Amsterdam Centraal Station, all over the Open Air Museum, back to the Centraal Station in Arnhem, to the edge of de Wallen (the red light district), to the hotel, and the next day walked the length of Amsterdam Centrum. The weather was wonderful (as you can see from the photos the skys were actually clear and the weather in the 60s F) so the walking was fun if tiring.

Two things you really need to see in Amsterdam are the Dragon Park and Rembrandtplein (a plein is a square). Dragon Park is near the Leidseplein (which is near the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel where I often stay on business) and Rembrandtplein can be found on any map easily (its somewhat near Rembrandthuis, a museum dedicated to the artist).

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The dragon bronzes in Dragon Park
The statue of Rembrandt at Rembrandtplein

There was also a demonstration in favor of gays and lesbians while I was in Amsterdam – don’t know why as it seems that the country is very tolerant (more so than in the States) but then the Dutch seem to thrive on demonstrating. I ate at the Hard Rock Cafe twice – the hamburgers are pretty good.

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Card from the Hard Rock Cafe

And of course I had to visit the Bulldog Coffeeshop on the Leidseplein. Cafes serve coffee, coffeeshops server non-alcoholic drinks and marijuana; at the Bulldog on Leidseplein, the coffeeshop is on the right and downstairs; the menu is to the left inside the door, and they have a lot of choices for your smoking satisfaction. Smoking marijuana and hash is decriminalized – you can have up to 5 grams and the police will look the other way (it isn’t technically legal yet – prostitution became legal, and taxed, a couple of years ago). This is part of a normal process in The Netherlands: a practice is illegal but seems to have no negative impact on society, so the police start to look the other way, then a group is formed to study what to do, and eventually the concensus formed around what to do is implemented. By the way, the Bulldog on Leidseplein is a former police station.

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The insert for a pack of reefers from the Bulldog

Also, there are money cards used widely called ChipKnip; they are smart cards that carry monetary value on them. You can purchase them at the airport (soon the currency exchanges) – they can be useful if you need to buy things from machines.

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A ChipKnip cash card from ABN AMRO

On this trip, like all the others, I read a few books – you can look into my blog to see which ones.

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