28.05.2013 - 28.05.2013 18 °C
Today our plan was to go to Amsterdam and spend time in the city, so that we wouldn't feel like we missed out on the actual city when we went to see some museums later in the week. Getting there was relatively easy, and the tram and metro were pretty uncomplicated. We went to rent bikes so that we could get around the city, but not have to worry about parking. Amsterdam streets are very busy, with both bikes and cars, but we were glad that there were bike lanes on almost every street. In Holland it is very common for people to use their bikes as a main mode of transportation, and we really saw this in Amsterdam. We decided to start off in Vondelpark, a very popular park for people to bike, and to bring their dogs and small children. The park itself was beautiful, and there are green trees everywhere. So far in Europe we have noticed that most parks and gardens aren't as well kept as we are used to back at home, but this one was definitely an exception. We stopped for a while in the park to have a picnic lunch, as it was really nice out. The sun hasn't been shining much this trip, if you don't count our month in Kas, so we are trying to take advantage of the nice days that we've got.
After we had gotten used to the bikes in the park, we decided to head out into the city. Our first stop was Museum Square, where we found the "I amsterdam" sign and a variety of museums. We locked up our bikes and walked around for a little, taking pictures in front of the sign and of the buildings nearby. After this quick stop we biked to Dam Square to see the Royal Palace, losing my mother on the way.
Biking in such a large, busy city was definitely an experience, and even though we had a couple of mishaps (two crashes, two people lost and many wrong turns) it was still fun in the end. You can tell who the locals are, just by seeing how they deal with the number of people in cars, bikes and on foot. We saw people texting and talking on the phone as they rode down the street, barely looking up as they went. But we aren't the only ones who see the busyness of it all, as I heard one English tourist exclaim, "Bikes.. everywhere!" as we passed.
It was about three o'clock when we returned our bikes, and walked back to Museum Square where we bought some juice and Magnum bars to enjoy in the sun. When we were finished we went to the Van Gogh Museum for a little change of pace.
I found the museum quite interesting, even if I didn't like all of the work that was displayed. Most of the dark pieces weren't to my liking, and some of the bright pieces, like "Sunflowers" weren't either. One whole floor was dedicated to colour, and how they were discovering how the paint had faded since the time they were painted. Another section was on how Van Gogh used his canvases, as x-rays show that he would reuse canvases he had already painted on, when he didn't need the picture anymore. It was common for him to use the front and backs of canvases, so there were some pictures showcasing both sides. Just a few days ago we bought a cartoon book about Van Gogh's time in Paris, so I'm excited to learn more about him. My favourite paintings of Van Gogh's are "Almond Blossom", "The Potato Eaters", and "Starry Night" (which, unfortunately, wasn't displayed here).
We did a quick grocery shop as we left the museum, but from here it was back to the car. We spent the evening watching a few West Wings (what did you expect?) and then were off to bed. We were all pretty tired from today, both from the exercise and the stress of it all, but after everything, I can still say it was a very full and enjoyable day.