Did I catch my cold in Amsterdam or did the kids give it to me when I got back?! Either way, it’s snotsville here at the minute and I’m not sure if I can coherently conjure up words. If you would like to see what happened this weekend then please come, come on a virtual tour of my one of my favourite cities (I’ve been to Amsterdam four times!!). I will bung up pictures and see what I can do! Beware, many pictures of wool skeins will appear at some point and then it’s back to the tour via some phone pics.
I love Amsterdam, it’s friendly, it’s easy and it’s fun. The architecture always blows me away, the canals too. The last time I went was ten years ago and what I didn’t realise then is that it is a city full of young and beautiful people. I didn’t quite feel old this time but if you’re not quick on your feet then tram/bicycle squashing seems pretty inevitable. I don’t recall feeling panicky before, but this time round my brain wasn’t quick enough to feel casual about crossing roads. I didn’t think to get a photo of the crazy crisscross of multiple lanes for cars, bikes and trams.
Upon arrival the first thing I made everyone do was visit Stephen and Penelope’s. It’s the “home” of knitwear designer Stephen West and someone not called Penelope. I dragged seven other people on my mission for wool. I felt marginally guilty; not a single one of those people was remotely interested in this pilgrimage but it was alright cos we went for beer straight after. I had to take lots of photos because it would have been taking the Mick to spend too much time in situ. Oh, crikey I wanted to buy it all. I went in having already decided to at least come out with a tote bag. They didn’t have any left and that made me sad. So I spent 5 Euro on a teeny drawstring bag instead. And two skeins of souvenir dutch yarn to squish.
Undercover Otter is a yarn actually from Amsterdam, you can’t get more souveniry than that! I’ve got plans for this yarn but have no idea when I’ll get the time to make anything (certainly not for the next couple of weeks whilst the kids are off school).
Look at what I missed here?! Right next door to Stephen and Penelope’s is a gorgeous looking fabric shop! I didn’t take this pic until the next day (when it was closed, boo). In all the yarny excitement I was blind to all else. Gutted. Anyone know where I can buy geo patterned fabric? What makes me cross is that it was all so bargainous, I missed out on bargains!
We spent half a day in the Rijksmuseum. Yes, it’s pretty impressive but my back ached far too much to give a stuff by the end of floor two. Look, I have a degree in Art History but even I thought it all looked the blinkin’ same. Floor three should have been my favourite but I hardly saw any of it. By that time I’d given up.
Highlights of the museum included Petronella Oortman’s dollhouse. No one was looking at the painting of it (see above) but everyone was clamouring to get a look at the real deal. I was interested to see it because I’ve just read The Miniaturist (it was OK, not as amazing as I was lead to believe). The Miniaturist is set in 17th century Amsterdam and was inspired by this very dollhouse. Not sure how the real Petronella would have felt about someone making up a fanciful story about her though. Also, there was the other “must see” that is Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. We kept calling it The Night’s Watch and wondering where Jon Snow was. Hilarious.
We walked all over the city. People’s fitbits confirmed well over twenty thousand steps per day. Fitbits! We all loved the Albert Cuyp market. Loads of great stalls. Wool, fabric and food. I was very happy.
Amsterdam’s night life is notorious and you really shouldn’t miss out on it. It is a marvel to walk the streets and see with your own eyes. Sadly, pictures taken in the dark, on my phone after a few beers; I didn’t get anything to even come close to capturing the true nutjobness of the red light district. You have to see it for yourself. The city’s lights at night are stunning too. The canals are lit up, it’s magic!
A fab way of seeing the city is a trip on a barge. We did this on our last morning, with the sun out and jumpers off. I learned loads about the history of the place and it was a good accompaniment to The Miniaturist. We chugged down the Herengracht (where all the mega rich people used to live) and around the Golden Bend. There are certain sights you can only see here by boat and I think it’s essential if you’re after a touristy excursion. It was just the right thing to end the break on. Thoroughly enjoyed it!