03 May 2015

Amsterdam by abbieredmon


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I saw the worst weather of my trip on Sunday. The morning was overcast but dry, so I walked up to Bloemenmarkt.

There are simply tulips, tulips, everywhere. Bulbs to take home, garden knicks and knacks, kitschy magnets and flags.

I made quick work of Bloemenmarkt itself, but on the street opposite, I found an artist's shop where I purchased my only souvenir.

I've begun collecting original etchings from local artists when I visit European cities. I have one from Prague, Tallinn, Berlin, and now Amsterdam. I like this approach to souvenirs for several reasons:

1. It's buying local.
I'm not buying a pair of made-in-China clogs or other kitsch. I'm supporting the local economy and -- even better -- supporting a local ARTIST.

2. It's original.
I make it a point to buy original, numbered etchings, which sometimes means they're a bit more expensive (depending on the city -- Amsterdam yes, Tallinn no!), but it makes for a unique remembrance of my time in a particular city.

3. It's not superfluous.
When I finally settle down a bit and have a home again, I can hang all of my etchings on a wall together to remind me of my travels. Instead of gathering dust on a shelf or sitting forgotten in a closet, my souvenirs will serve as decor for my home.

Now, just the finicky business of actually settling down and having walls to hang things on!...

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Maximizing the fact that the rain was still holding off, I walked a bit farther and ran into a neat little street with a few bookstores that were just opening up.

After perusing the racks at Athenaeum for forever (and stumbling across a few things I made mental note of), I finally settled on purchasing the inaugural issue of a magazine called REMARKABLE, with the tagline "Live Better. Harm Less."

I took it across the street to Cafe Luxembourg, where I perused it over a cup of very fresh and lovely mint tea with honey, the taste of which which reminded me of Morocco!

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I didn't want to carry my etching around all day, especially if it was going to rain, so I headed back to drop it off at my AirBnB, taking the time to have lunch while there (and save a few dollars -- Amsterdam is expensive!).

By then it had started to rain, so I took the tram over to the Tropenmuseum to hide out from the weather.

There are two main floors of exhibits, but the big draw for me was the temporary exhibition currently on: Body Modification. There were some really cool and freaky photos and videos of people who had done all kinds of odd things to their bodies -- and not just tattoos and stretched ear lobes, either.

One of the things on my list for Amsterdam had been the Tattoo Museum, but upon arrival in the city, I sussed out that it seemed to be permanently closed, which was a bummer. This exhibit at the Tropenmuseum was a close second. (Even better would have been getting a tattoo from one of the great Amsterdam-based artists, but I didn't plan ahead nearly well enough for that!)

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I ended the rainy day (which in reality ended with some dramatic sun) by seeing a movie at the EYE cinema, which is across the water in North Amsterdam -- which you can reach via the free public ferry that runs essentially every ten minutes all day and night.

The building is cool. It's dramatic. It's probably photogenic, but I couldn't be too bothered. It was windy, and I was a bit chilled from the ferry.

I saw a Swedish film called "Turist," and it was fantastic. It was a psychological drama about a family on a ski trip in (I believe) the Alps. I won't recount the plot for you here, but do indulge if you get the opportunity to see it. I highly recommend it!