Thurs. July 17, 2014:
This time I woke up even earlier, before 8am! It is not surprising, given there was no AC and we had the fan on full blast. The one good thing about our hotel is that breakfast was included, nothing fancy, just peanut butter & jam on cinnamon raisin toast and a bad cup of coffee.
Walking to the Rijks Musuem we had initially been following the Google Maps directions until we got lost that is. We resorted to using the city map we had gotten from the hotel. Turns out we had walked one street too far before turning. Just in time for our museum visit, I came down with a bout of hiccups. No amount of scaring me worked. Thankfully the basement exhibit of Asian artifacts proved to be very unpopular, not counting the security guards there were 2 other people there. I tried to so hard to keep my hiccups quiet. I tried holding my breath; Brent tired scaring me again, nothing. It did not help that the museum was so quiet.
Another exhibit room was full of old guns. Some were bigger than me. There was a ceremonial sword that was much larger than me, all I could think was: I would hate to be knighted with that. At some point my hiccups disappeared, it only happens if I forget I have them. Thankfully they were gone by the time we got to the floor with paintings from 1600-1700, as this was the most popular floor. Based on the amount of people there we figured that everyone had skipped the first two floors and gone straight to the good stuff. It was unbelievable how many people were crowded around Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”, it is a giant painting yet people were right up close to it. We got to see some more paintings by Vermeer. For some reason a self-portrait by Van Gogh was garnering a lot of attention, not sure why as he painted a bunch. It was really annoying going through this exhibit given everyone was stopping to photograph the paintings. Why?! Why were they photographing the paintings?! It was driving me nuts, so much so that my hiccups came back.
At the halfway point of the 1600-1700 floor we stopped for a snack break. As we munched on brownies we decided that we would have to leave the Van Gogh Museum for the next day. It was already afternoon and we were barely halfway done. My hiccups came back for a third round in the contemporary gallery. I was at a loss. I do not think I will ever understand weird contemporary artworks. In total we had spent about 6 hours in the museum. I was tired and hungry.
For lunch we went to Café Americaine. We snagged a spot on the patio but it was set up oddly. Our chairs were beside the table and facing out towards the street and a fountain. We were sitting beside each other rather than across. It was the perfect set-up for people watching which apparently is THE thing to do while in Europe. I had ordered a croque madame sandwich. On the menu it said toasted ham and cheese sandwich with two fried eggs. I figured the fried eggs would be on the side or inside… nope. They were on top of my sandwich thus rendering it a huge messy affair. I had to ask for a fork & knife, there was no way I could eat it like a regular sandwich. Nothing beats sipping ice cold orange Fanta on the patio while watching the weirdos by the fountain.
For dessert we stopped at Ben & Jerry’s. The peanut butter cup ice cream I got was way better than the baked Alaska flavour, but it was much messier. It was so hot outside that my ice cream was melting and dropping all over my face and shirt. Our next stop was Old Church, ironically located in the Red Light District. From the outside the church looked beautiful with old stone walls. Inside the roof was the only nice thing. Inexplicably the church had been turned into an art gallery in some parts. In the middle there was still an altar and pews, but all around the edges there were really bad art pieces. It was God-awful and I was happy to get out of there.
I admit, the Red Light District was rather awkward. It was only 3 or 4 in the afternoon but the ladies were at work, standing about in their windows, gesturing to passersby. What made it less awkward was being near a giant group… until they started laughing or pointing, then it was horribly uncomfortable.
We wandered around, looking for landmarks pointed out on our city map. The other church on the map was under renovation and not much to see. Rembrandt’s house was nothing special. The only point of interest that was actually interesting was the Dutch East India Trading Company ship down by the waterfront. While we were down there Brent noticed a giant set of stairs leading up to a patio. Exhausted and dehydrated, with sore aching legs, we climbed the stairs while the sun beat down on us. All that for an OK view of Amsterdam, you could see most of the city, but nothing really stood out.
The walk backt o the hotel felt like the longest walk ever, all I could think of was sitting in bed and sipping some more ice cold Fanta. We had been walking from 8:30am until 6pm save for the half hour we spent sitting on the patio. One sip of Fanta and my hiccups came back for a fourth round. At this point I was really irritated, my throat and diaphragm were starting to hurt. Thankfully Sabrina The Teenage Witch was on and that distracted me. After that I ran out of stuff to watch, we did not get MTV.
Too tired for anything fancy, we went to McDonalds for dinner. Even there I did not have anything fancy or wacky, just chicken nuggets and green tea. Now that it was getting dark out we walked through the main section of the Red Light District. We actually saw a guy open the door and negotiate with the woman; alas we never did see him go in. All along the canal people were sitting, sipping beers and watching the tourists walk the District. I bet if we had done the same and stayed long enough, we would have seen someone go in. It was surprising to see the giant line-up of people waiting to get into see a live porno show at the theatre. It was awkward to walk by the line-up. Even more awkward was the guy promoting a club that offered something for the ladies instead. Down one of the Red Light alleys there was a Christian hostel, literally two doors down from a red light window. That was in the lead for my all-time favourite thing seen on vacation. I could not get over how hilarious it seemed.
Back at the hotel I bought a stroopwafel from the vending machine to tide me over. My hiccups came back for the fifth time, this time while I was showering. I had noticed a bug on the ceiling but I did not have my glasses, so it seemed less scary. I warned Brent about it before his shower. Turns out it was a mosquito, he caught it and let it free in the hallway, so nice.