Four days waiting for the Christmas Cruise
We arrived in Amsterdam this afternoon an hour late because of a train incident.
We found our hotel right beside the railway station.
Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths.
Here are some photos we took on a stroll around the Centrum. I did not take any photos in the Red Light District.
We found a quiet little bar that really had room for about a dozen people and waited till an hour or so to go and have inner around 6.00 pm.
Tomorrow, Saturday 10 December is a big day at least for one of us, and we are going to the Rijksmuseum. it is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.
The Rijksmuseum was founded in The Hague in 1800 and moved to Amsterdam in 1808, where it was first located in the Royal Palace and later in the Trippenhuis. The current main building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and first opened its doors in 1885. On 13 April 2013, after a ten-year renovation which cost € 375 million, the main building was reopened by Queen Beatrix. In 2013 and 2014, it was the most visited museum in the Netherlands with record numbers of 2.2 million and 2.45 million visitors. It is also the largest art museum in the country.
We walked to Centraal Station ( yes, it is spelt with two 'a's) then took the tram to the Rijksmuseum.
The museum has an incredibly large range of exhibits as well as prized paintings such as Van Gogh's self portrait and Rembrandt's Night Watch.
King Louis Napoleon, Napoleon's brother, was made King of the Nertherlands.
A box of pistols owned by Napoleon Bonaparte and a painting of the Battle of Waterloo (and the back of a gawker's head).
Here are a few more items rom the Rijksmuseum collection.
The picture below is of relics from when Opium was used in trade. The packets have certified quantity and quality of opium.
Sunday morning was to be sleepy sort of day. However we booked on a three hour walking tour with our guide Kor. He was an Urban a planning student and an actor. As a tour guide was without peer. It was one of the best we had ever taken. He was hilariously witty and had a deep knowledge of the city and history.
One if our first sights was The Schreierstoren (English incorrectly translated as: Weeper's Tower), originally part of the medieval city wall of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was built in the 15th century. It was the location from which Henry Hudson set sail on his journey to Northern America. This expedition would lead to the discovery of the island of Manhattan among others. It was built as a defense tower in 1481. It is currently a café and nautical bookstore. The old name was 'Schreyhoeckstoren' meaning in old Dutch the sharp angle of the tower with the once connected citywalls.
Our tour started at Dam Square. The town hall is sited in the first picture with the monument in the next.
There are plenty of quite different types of shops here in Amsterdam.
We found the answer to why houses are crooked. Everyone who has been to Amsterdam has noticed how crooked Amsterdam houses are. Amsterdam houses are leaning forward, they tilt to one side and some look like they might fall over. So why are Amsterdam houses crooked? Tourist guides and books have all kinds of explanations. Looking more closely into this problem, the answer is not as simple as tourist websites make it sound. In fact, the experts are not all that certain why the Amsterdam houses look slanted and skewed. There are many theories. Here are the most likely.
All houses in Amsterdam are built on piles, drilled meters deep into the wet soil. Nowadays they fill up the pile with cement to make them extra sturdy, but in the old days they used wooden piles.
If they don’t build the houses in Amsterdam on poles, the houses would simply sink into the swampy ground. The Amsterdam soil consists of 11 meters of soft peat and clay before the poles hit the first solid layer of sand. Nowadays, the piles are drilled further into the ground until they hit a second layer of sand, at 18 meters deep.
2. Why buildings in Amsterdam look skewed
In many cases, the wooden poles were of a lesser quality, not long enough or not thick enough. Save to say, the builders did not give out a 300-year guarantee. The old age and quality of the wooden piles make the buildings in Amsterdam sink unevenly in the ground, making the buildings in Amsterdam looked skewed.
As long as the houses are tightly packed together, holding each other, everything’s fine. But when one of the houses in the row gets a makeover or starts moving and the poles are not in the best condition, you get the famous crooked house you often see along the Amsterdam canals.
Houses on corners, that lack a neighboring building on one side are most sensitive to slanting because they have no house next door to lean on. Often, the walls of a corner house will start to look bloated.
3. Rotting of the wooden poles
Another reason for the Amsterdam houses to tilt to one side, is the rotting of the wooden poles. The water level in the city is controlled by a special governmental agency, called Waterschap. Its board of members is chosen independently and democratically during public elections. When the Waterschap agency decides the water level may be lowered, the poles are exposed to oxygen and start to rot. And when de foundation is slowly decaying, the entire Amsterdam house will start to lean to one side.
4. Adding extra floors on top
Especially in the Amsterdam Jordaan Quarter, many houses start to sink into the ground when they add an extra floor on top. The weight of the house is bigger than the old builders had calculated all those centuries ago. The result: a crooked Amsterdam facade.
Why do houses lean forward?
Many old Amsterdam houses are leaving forward towards to the street. This leaning is not an accident. Amsterdam houses were built leaning forward intentionally! In Dutch this is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’.
Until the start of the 19th century, construction regulations in Amsterdam specifically stated that all houses need to lean forward. It even stated by how much. Houses on corners needed to lean forward on both ‘open’ sides.
Here are some great photos that illustrate this.
The building in the middle in the picture below was a clandestine Catholic Church. Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (English: Our Lord in the Attic) is a 17th-century canal house, house church, and museum in the city center of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Catholic Church was built on the top three floors of the canal house during the 1660s. It is an important example of a "schuilkerk", or "clandestine church," in which Catholics and other religious dissenters from the seventeenth century Dutch Reformed Church, unable to worship in public, held services.
The East India Company made Amsterdam rich in the 17 th century with 45 % of the world's wealth. This was their headquarters.
We stopped for a drink in an Irish Pub. Previously, the building had been a church. Some of the original fittings are still in place.
Tonight, we dined at an Irish Pub called 'Molly Malone'. Later we took a stroll around the Red Light District. Here are some alternatives views around the area.
The first photo below shows Justin Bieber's Penthouse. He paid 22.5 million euros for it and visits four times a year.
Monday, 12 December saw us visit The Van Gogh Museum. The Van Gogh Museum is an art museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw.
The museum opened on 2 June 1973. It is located in buildings designed by Gerrit Rietveld and Kisho Kurokawa. The museum's collection is the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings in the world.
Upon Vincent van Gogh's death in 1890, his work not sold fell into the possession of his brother Theo. Theo died six months after Vincent, leaving the work in the possession of his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. Selling many of Vincent's paintings with the ambition of spreading knowledge of his artwork, Johanna maintained a private collection of his works.
The collection was inherited by her son Vincent Willem van Gogh in 1925, eventually loaned to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam where it was displayed for many years, and was transferred to the state-initiated Vincent van Gogh Foundation in 1962.
We returned to Centraal by tram and walked back to our hotel. You have to be really careful Crossing bike tracks as bikes, scooters and motorbikes have right of way. This funny little car came across the pedestrian crossing and almost bumped into Colleen before it took off down the bike way.
I went up to Floor 11, the Sky Bar at our hotel, the Double Tree Hilton. Here remove shots of the Amsterdam skyline after dark.
This morning (Tuesday 13 December) was 6 degrees at 9.00 am. We visited the Anne Frank House. http://www.annefrank.org
The Anne Frank House (Dutch: Anne Frank Huis) is a writer's house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. The building is located on a canal called the Prinsengracht, close to the Westerkerk, in central Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
During World War II, Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms at the rear of the 17th-century canal house, known as the Secret Annex. Anne Frank did not survive the war, but in 1947 her wartime diary was published. Her father Otto Frank survived Auschwitz and returned to Amsterdam to search for his family. In 1957, the Anne Frank Foundation was established to protect the property from developers who wanted to demolish the block.
The museum opened on 3 May 1960. It preserves the hiding place, has a permanent exhibition on the life and times of Anne Frank, and has an exhibition space about all forms of persecution and discrimination. In 2013 and 2014, the museum had 1.2 million visitors and was the 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands, after the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.
This pic is of the houses across the canal fronting Anne Frank's House.
Anne Frank's House. The second pic is of the secret entrance is a hinged bookcase to enter the Secret Annexe that was the hiding place for Anne Frank, her mother and father and her sister Margot. Four others completed the hiding place for eight people for three years during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 14 December we are picked up at our hotel in Amsterdam and taken to the Scenic Amber to start our 16 day cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest.