Amsterdam! The city of canals, flowers, food, and Rembrandt! Amsterdam was busy and bustling for our 2 nights there!
It was 70° when we were there and people lined the streets of the cafes and bistros drinking coffee and wine and aperol spritzers. The Dutch have not seen the sun in a long time, and it was so warm, people were out enjoying the weather! The birds too!
I took the day to try to go to the Rijks Museum, but was not able to get a ticket. I found myself wandering the streets, ooohing and aaahing at every window. I found a Japanese shop that carries vintage kimonos from Kyoto and decided I had to have one for the boat! It is a summertime kimono, and when I can figure out how to wear it, I will post a picture!
I also found an amazing Japanese restaurant where I had a fabulous dinner. It was extremely authentic and the food was delicious! My sake sommelier, Maria, was so informative and had so many different types of sake, and taught me so much! Sake is one of my most favorites and I love learning all about it. One day I hope to go to Japan to go to cooking school and to study sake.
We stayed across the canal from Amsterdam station. To come into the city you had to take the ferry. I loved taking the ferry when I lived in New York City and would love to go to New Jersey or Red Hook, just so I could take it going and coming back. The Amsterdam ferry runs 24 hours a day and it leaves almost every five or 10 minutes so it's extremely convenient.
Amsterdam is a wonderful city!
(I love this fella. He was always greeting us when we came back to the harbor)
We left Amsterdam and went to Haarlem.
Haarlem is home to Frans Hals who was a contemporary of Rembrandt. We saw the Hals museum with our friend who has a PhD in 17th century Dutch art, and it was one of the best museum tours I've ever taken. He explained why they painted the way they painted during those days. He brought to light the tiniest details that one would never understand or notice, and the complexity of each stroke during this time. To have an expert like this take you to a museum is such a treat.
So many times when I'm in a museum I try to figure out or admire the painting, but never quite understand what the artist was trying to convey. If possible I really recommend having a tour if you come to this part of the world and have an interest in Dutch art. It will give you such a new insight. I also loved all of the 17th century pottery!
Harlem is also home to a gorgeous church, the Grove Kerk, that has a magnificent organ. According to Wikipedia: In Moby Dick (1851),Herman Melville describes the inside of a whale's mouth:"Seeing all these colonnades of bone so methodically ranged about, would you not think you were inside of the great Haarlem organ, and gazing upon its thousand pipes?"
Many famous musicians played this organ, including Mendelssohn, Handel and the 10-year-old Mozart who played it in 1766.
Harlem is a medium size city and has everything you could want, even karaoke!!! We had busy days of walking to IKEA, doing laundry, and provisioning the boat. In the evening we tried the traditional rice table, which is a big bowl of beautiful rice, and then many different vegetable and meat toppings that go on top of the rice.
We also made a new friend in a little kitty cat like to come on the boat. He was absolutely precious.
I really enjoyed Haarlem, sitting in the cafés outside, watching the world go by. I hope to be back soon.
We are now off to West Knollendam.