Up early this morning we had breakfast in our room, packed the car and headed north to the Netherlands by 7 am….weather is overcast but not raining. Jochem gave us a list of the major highways to take for the fastest route to Amsterdam before we left Brussels yesterday.
He told us it should take about two hours and it was almost on the dot of 9:30 am when we pulled into our Hotel Tulip Inn outside of Amsterdam. Of course it was too early to check in. This is a three star hotel that we booked through Otel.com; a great website that has quality hotels at discounted prices. We got maps from the desk on how to go into the city center by train. We had a short walk along the bicycle path for about ten minutes; missed a turn but soon got back on the right path and found the Metro Station. We stopped to ask a Snack Bar man about tickets and he sold us an all day pass good for 24 hours on all of the various trains and trams in the city, only 7 Euros and it turned out to be a very good decision.
We got off of the Metro near the Rembrandt House Museum and really enjoyed our visit there. We were in Amsterdam about ten years ago and saw the Anne Frank Museum and many other places at that time. Our visit today will be shorter and we only plan to see two Museums.
The Rembrandt Museum is in the house that Rembrandt owned in Amsterdam for nearly twenty years before he lost it to the bank. Based on an inventory taken at the time of the bankruptcy and paintings that he did while in this house; they have recreated it to the time he lived there. He also had his studio here and his students worked in the upper floors of the house. On the top floor there was a wonderful display of his etchings; his main source of income during his lifetime.
Leaving the Rembrandt house we walked through a street market towards the area that we remembered housed the red light district. We had more information on our first visit but managed to find the red lights again. I didn’t take any photos as we remembered the warning about the fact that if they see you taking photos they will take your camera and throw it into the canal; so we strolled through looking into the windows for the scantily clad young women plying their wares. I was amazed again but it is a totally legal profession in Holland.
As we came out of the district we stopped and had a beer after finishing a bag of chips that we’d purchased two days ago; I’d brought it with me in the backpack. We then walked and walked….by the way it was getting very warm and humid by this time!
Finally got the right tram, after several wrong trams; and found our way across town to the Rijksmuseum. This was our second planned museum to visit. When we arrived we found that the whole museum is being restored and only a small portion was open. But we still enjoyed being there again; yes…this was a second visit.
It took us some time to figure out the right tram to get back to the Metro Station; but we did and soon we were headed back to the Hotel. Arrived about 2:30 pm; checked in and then the rain started.
If you’ve watched the beginning of the Tour de France today; it was raining for the six mile Prologue that is a time trial in Rotterdam. The actual race begins tomorrow. Cancellara took the yellow jersey today coming in at 10 minutes….Tony Martin at 10:10; David Millar at 10:20 and Lance Armstrong at 10:22.
For dinner we braved the rain and went back….by car….to the Snack Bar and purchased cheeseburgers, French fries with mayo (no ketchup here) and cokes….took them back to our room so that we could watch the Tour de France on television. We’re looking at the maps tonight so that we can hopefully arrange to find a good spot on the highway to watch them whiz by on their way from Rotterdam to Brussels tomorrow!
We will be stopping on Sunday night at another Formula 1 in Waalwijk, Belgium. On Monday we’ll be heading into Reims and hope to see the race again along the road as they race from Brussels to Spa in Belgium.
One note…in the Rijksmuseum photos you’ll see a clock face a couple of times. I think it was a video film playing but it shows a man inside of a clock that changes the hands every minute on the clock by erasing the hands and re drawing them. Lots of fun to watch. One last note...the bicycle is definitely the main mode of transportation here! They are everywhere!