Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 3 in Amsterdam, Museums 4/11/2013

I missed breakfast in the hostel again this morning, I am always awake early enough to make it to breakfast. I  simply prefer to stay in bed, usually reading my travel guides on my Kindle, to getting up for breakfast in the hostel's cafeteria.

My plan for today was to explore some of Amsterdam's museums and go on a canal cruise.  Amsterdam has more canals than Venice, I wanted to see Amsterdam from this perspective. I originally planned to go to the Van Gogh Museum Rijksmuseum. Someone told me yesterday the Van Gogh Museum was closed for renovations and the exhibit was relocated to another museum. I checked on the internet, the Van Gogh Museum was temporarily moved to the Hermitage Museum. When I looked up the Rijksmuseum, I learned it  would be closed until April 13, 2013, I was two days too early.

 I went to the front desk at my hostel to ask how to get to the Hermitage Museum, the woman asked if I wanted to go to the Van Gogh Museum, I say yes, but I heard it was moved to the Hermitage.  The woman said it was, but told me I could buy a discount ticket through the hostel and bypass the lines at the museum.  I looked at the other museums the hostel offered discounted tickets to, I noticed the Jewish History Museum and decided I would go there too.  I also bought a ticket for the Blue Boat Amsterdam canal cruise.

The woman at the hostel front desk marked the locations of the Hermitage Museum and Jewish History Museum on the map, and told me I had a long day ahead of me.  I agreed with her, I had a lot to see today, I went back to my room, got my jacket and umbrella and set out for my Amsterdam museum day.

It was rainy and cold today, my map was already damp by the time I made it to the main road.  The route to the Hermitage Museum was straightforward and I had no problems following the may to get there. I passed the closed the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museums on my way to the Hermitage. I also passed the Heineken Experience, most people I met had plans to go there.  I am not a beer drinker, have no interest in Heineken, was not going to waste my time or money touring Heineken's brewery.  I did take a few pictures on my way to the Hermitage, including in front of the Heineken Experience.

There was a line when I finally reached the Hermitage Museum, I was happy I had bought my ticket at the hostel, I skipped it and went directly into the museum.  The Van Gogh exhibit was full of people, but I had no problems seeing all of the paintings, drawings, etc. on display.  I watched the museum's movie on Van Gogh's life, it discussed his psychotic breaks, hospitalization, once voluntary for a year, the works he did while hospitalized and his death.  I went through the entire exhibit then I went to look for the Jewish History Museum.

I had no problems finding the Hermitage Museum, I got lost looking for the Jewish History Museum. On the map, the Jewish History Museum was located only a short distance from the hermitage, the proximity did not help me find the museum.  I passed a street where I thought the museum may be located and kept walking, past Amsterdam's opera house, I looked at my map.  I knew I was in the wrong location, I back tracked.  Finally, I asked a man for directions, he looked at my map and pointed me in the right direction.  The Jewish History Museum was on the street I had passed earlier.  Once I found the museum, I went to get lunch, Amsterdam Croquettes.

I went back to the museum and the woman told me my ticket came with a ticket the see the Portuguese Synagogue. The woman asked how long I would be in Amsterdam, I told her I was leaving tomorrow morning, she recommended I go see the Portuguese Synagogue before touring the Jewish History Museum.  I walked across the street and viewed the Portuguese Synagogue.

I went back to the Jewish History Museum, the museum tour started in the Great Synagogue. The museum covered the history of Jews in Amsterdam and the Netherlands through the present day. The exhibit began with explanations of why Jews moved to the Netherlands, fleeing persecution in other countries. The exhibits discussed Amsterdam's occupation by the Nazis, Jews being deported during WWII, how the Jewish population was decimated, etc.  The exhibits also discussed the discrimination and indifference surviving Jews faced who returned to Amsterdam after WWII, many emigrated to Israel, the US, Canada and other countries, they no longer felt safe in Amsterdam. There was also an exhibit on Jewish food, the last exhibit I saw in the museum. 

I left the Jewish History Museum about 20 minutes before 5 pm and headed for the canal cruise pick up location near my hostel.  The canal cruise began at 6pm and took us all around Amsterdam, there was some recorded narrative in English and other languages about the history of Amsterdam and some of the buildings we passed. The cruise lasted 75 minutes.

After the cruise I went to get something for dinner, I ended up at Wok to Walk, an Asian stir-fry restaurant not far from my hostel. This was the healthiest meal I have had since I arrived in Europe, I ordered the brown rice, it came with vegetables and I chose beef for my meat.  The restaurant was crowded, I got my food to go and ate in the common area at my hostel.  The meal was delicious and I am sure my body was happy to get some much needed nutrients and fiber.  

I will spend the rest of the evening packing, tomorrow I take an early morning train to Berlin. 

Amsterdam Day 3 Photo Album 

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