Painters, prisoners, poofs and puffs

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Thursday, July 6, 2006

After a wonderful solid nights sleep with no mozzies and no noise, we woke to a gorgeous sunrise and what promised to be another clear hot day. The BOSS poured over the tourist brochures and planned out our stops for the day. There are so many good things to do and see in Amsterdam that it is difficult to accomplish them in less than three days. Although the BOSS's plan was ambitious we set forth to conquer number one on the list - delayed only slightly by our desperate need for caffeine. Once that need was satisfied we continued on to visit Mr Van Gogh.

The Van Gogh Museum is a very boring building on the outside but the layout and presentation on the inside is one of the best I have ever seen in an art gallery. The information on the walls was in large, easy to read type, short and informative. It flowed in chronological order around the rooms of the first floor interspersed with the paintings, drawings and letters from Van Gogh. Although it was fairly crowded with tourists the layout of the display made it bearable. The BOSS was enamored by Van Gogh's work and I was satisfied that her art lesson had been completed for that day, if not the whole month.

After absorbing Mr Van Gogh for two hours we wandered across the road to the Coster Diamond Factory and spent a further hour vainly coveting the very beautiful jewellery on display. The "guided tour" was short yet informative about the various cuts and carats of diamonds, but very quickly the small crowd was directed into the buying rooms. Although the lady was keen for the BOSS to try on the many beautiful rings I managed to avoid getting my credit card out of the wallet.

We had bought the makings of a salad at the supermarket the previous evening so we sat in the museum park and ate our very cheap lunch. We would like to be able to do this every day, not only because it would save us 15 euros on lunch but also because we enjoy (and miss) salads and fresh vegetables. However supermarkets are rarely found in the middle of the cities where we have been staying and it is only when we stay in the suburbs that we can find such luxuries.

After our sumptuous lunch we caught yet another tram to Anne Frank's house. Again the presentation and displays of this museum were excellent. It portrayed a very moving and very real experience of three years of captivity and fear and a fierce will to survive. As the BOSS had never read the Anne Frank Diary, I thought it fitting that I should buy her a copy of the book from the actual place it was written.

Although it was now 4:30 in the afternoon it was still very hot. We stopped for a drink at the gay monument - a large pink sculpture of three triangles dedicated to all the gays who were executed by the Nazi's. There is also a gay information centre or "pink point" on the corner offering alternative experiences and very different tours of Amsterdam.

We were unfortunately too late for the theatre museum which closed at 5pm, leaving the only museum that stayed open till late being the Hemp museum.
Everybody knows that Amsterdam is tolerant of marijuana and it can be bought freely from certain coffee shops. The image this evokes is crowds of stoned tourists and Dutch people wandering the streets. This could not be further from the truth. The BOSS and I wandered through the "seedy" part of town and although the coffee shops which sell marijuana were easily identifiable, we were neither offered any nor was any visible, unlike Nimbin in Australia.

The Hemp Museum was a very tasteful presentation of the history, products and manufacture of hemp and gave a factual representation of the process of it becoming illegal, mostly from the American perspective. It was not a sleazy underworld affair; instead it was informative and enlightening.

We finished the day with tapas for dinner and another hot, sticky ride on the tram.

01 Brekky in a Dutch cafe
Brekky in a Dutch cafe
02 Rijksmuseum
03 World smallest diary
World smallest diary
04 The Boss choosing her diamond
The Boss choosing her diamond
05 The museum park
The museum park
06 Amsterdam's version of the QVB
Amsterdam's version of the QVB
07 Amsterdam's version of the QVB on the inside
Amsterdam's version of the QVB on the inside
08 More scaffolding
More scaffolding
09 Anne Frank's house
Anne Frank's house
10 Pink Point - gay info centre
Pink Point - gay info centre
11 Homo monument sign
Homo monument sign
12 Homo monument
Homo monument
13 Amsterdam street
Amsterdam street
14  Cool clock
Cool clock
15 Red light shop
Red light shop
16 Cool boots
Cool boots
17 Red light district
Red light district
18 The BOSS and the brick Budda
The BOSS and the brick Budda
19 Three storey bicycle carpark
Three storey bicycle carpark
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