Sunday, May 30, 2010

Amsterdam, part two.

There are a lot of stairs up to the apartment.

On the Sunday, we set out early to the Van Gogh Museum. We got there half an hour before it opened, and there was already a queue. It was fascinating, and I was thrilled that one could get in good and close to the paintings, and thus get an opportunity to see all the little details. In similar museums and galleries over here, you're cordoned off from the pieces, and you just don't get the same impression. A lot of the paintings are the really famous ones, and it was just so exciting to be able to view them like that! [/art nerd]

Afterwards, we headed out to the Tropenmuseum, which is a fabulous place - we investigated rooms full of statues, and weird musical instruments, and tribal costumes. We wished we could spend a lot longer there.

I was pretty tired by this point.

But onwards!
We found the Sex Museum, and felt we really had to investigate. It was quite interesting, but I must admit that there are only so many penises one can look at before it becomes a tad dull. And I don't know whether I'm too knowledgeable about certain things, or whether my friend who'd told us about the museum is really innocent, but there wasn't really anything in the displays that I found particularly shocking.

After we left the museum, we just ambled around the city for a bit, dropping by the red light district (where I was startled by the girls in the windows - we were in a narrow street, and I'd popped into a shop. When I went in, there were no girls there, and when I emerged, the street was lined with semi-naked women in the window booths. *laughs* Startled by Sex Workers. Now, there's a good name for a band!) and just being touristy.

And this is our local coffee house, of which we were very fond.

Join me soon for the culmination of our adventure!

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Amsterdam, part one.

We both worked a half day, then made our way to the airport. All went well with the flight, and we arrived in Schiphol airport at about 7.30. After getting utterly confused with the airport - it's also a railway station and a shopping centre - we found our way to the train to take us into Amsterdam.

We got in to our hotel at about quarter to nine. We dropped off our stuff, then headed out to find something to eat. We went one street over and found this square - Rembrandtplein - which was utterly ringed with cafes and restaurants. Matt and I were somewhat overwhelmed.

We eventually found a cheap pizza place to have dinner, then dropped into our local 'coffee' shop. It was actually very cool - it had elaborate murals on the walls, and was very quiet and peaceful. I tried, afterwards, to get a picture of all the lighting over the canal across from our hotel. Hmm.

In the morning, we set out, full of vim and vigour (which was a tad dampened when we discovered it would cost nine Euros to get two pastries from a bakery for breakfast). We were ooh and ahhing over the canals, and the stupidly picturesque scenery.

We'd (after much debate, as I'm sure people will recall) invested in I Amsterdam cards, which got us free entry into a lot of the museums around the city. So we rocked up early to the Rijksmuseum. It's undergoing extensive renovations, but some of it was still open, including a room with Rembrandt's "The Night Watch".

Afterwards, we went for a stroll, then headed back into town to meet Marco. I was very excited, and also very nervous. Matt was helpfully pointing out to me how ridiculous that was, seeing as I've known Marco for five years, but logic does not play a part in these things...
We found him (partially thanks to his Indiana Jones hat), and we headed off for lunch. It was great to finally meet him IRL!

After lunch, we consulted our map, and tried to figure out what to do next. Marco, who doesn't actually live in Amsterdam, kept apologising for his lack of local knowledge, but it was a heck of a lot more knowledge than we had, so anything he could give us was gratefully received!

We wandered around the city for a bit, and then parted ways. Matt and I went to De Nieuwe Kerk, which had a very impressive organ *sniggers*, and then headed out to see what else we could find.

We did find the Red Light District, but it's not so interesting in the daytime.

The Giro D'Italia was running time trials that day, so we were effectively cut off from our apartment. We just wandered until about six-ish. We were pleased, though to stumble across the Museum Our Lord in the Attic, though, as that had been on my wish-list to see.
Anyway, we eventually got back to the apartment, knackered after something like nine hours of walking, to discover that we apparently had a housekeeping service. We had kind of assumed we didn't, so it was a surprise to come back and find out that someone had been in and made the bed, and carefully folded my dirty underwear...

Oh yes. What we were informed was an apartment, and were paying 100 Euros a night for, turned out to be a single room with two teeny offshoots (for the shower and the toilet) and a dollhouse-sized kitchen. We didn't really mind - we weren't spending a lot of time there - but we did feel we'd been somewhat misled about it.

Our dining room / kitchen / bathroom.

Our bedroom / dressing room / living room (please excuse the mess).

The smallest table in the world. Matt couldn't even sit at it, as he couldn't fit his legs underneath it.
The outside of our hotel.

Across the road was an area where some of the canal tour boats were moored. I thought they were brilliant - they looked like 1970's era spaceships. I was expecting to see Dan Dare leap into action, but alas, no.

Sorry it's taken so long to get this posted. Stay tuned for the follow-up!

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Monday, May 03, 2010

What do cooking and jewellery have in common?

I've been creating interesting recipes these past few days. I know, you're shocked, right? I made a pasta bake thing with garlic (and nutmeg and bacon lardons and spring onions and goat cheese) based on a very simple recipe I found somewhere on teh interwebz.
And I made a leek bread pudding yesterday. It was somewhat experimental, but tasted SO MUCH BETTER than the name made it sound. It was great eaten cold in the early morning, when we got home from clubbing.
Today (and yes, this is the point you can all say 'ew' and back away) I'm making a very simple haggis lasagne for dinner. Yum yum yum.
I adapted it a bit (as I do most recipes) and added in an extra layer of bechamel sauce, as I was a little concerned it might turn out too dry.

Speaking of food, I have added another item to my collection of food-related jewellery.
(Didja see that segue? Like a ninja!)
I'm not sure why I love fake food items as jewellery so much. There's something that's just charming about them. I have been eyeing this ice-cream pendant for a few weeks now.

I also had to stop myself from buying a ring in the shape of a cake with glittery stones on it. My self-restraint is legendary, yo.
Thing is, my tastes seem to run either of two ways. The faintly-gothic items way, and the girly-dorky-cute items way. Things like a zombie Hello Kitty or gothic Bratz dolls (like the ones Chary sent me a few years ago (and which are still proudly on display in the living room, by the way)) are pretty much my ideal. I'm not sure how these two... genres of personal taste match up, and I know it surprises some people that they do, but hey, it seems to work for me. And that's the main thing.

Bonus: out-of-focus photo of me ready for our night out.

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