Storks and Herons
Favorite thing: This heron is my favorite memory of Amsterdam. I encountered him (her?) as it was getting dark and we were walking to dinner. Apparently herons and storks are rather common in Holland, but I never knew it, so this one by Prinsengracht really took me by surprise! At first I thought he was wooden, but he looked so real that I slowed down to have a better look, and then he finally moved, scaring the heck outta me!
A local lady walking by must have been amused by my reaction - she said three of them lived on that street, and exchanged a few words with us before moving on. These birds are huge, and the last place I expected to see them was in the downtown area of a big city like Amsterdam. Later I saw another one, standing up on the gable of a house, looking like a giant ornament.
Pulitzer Hotel - Art Gallery
Favorite thing: As early as 1975, the tortuous corridor between the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht buildings became an art gallery, now with four exhibitions a year. The hotel estimates that over 300+ guests and visitors pass through per day, bisecting the garden, and checking out the offerings. On this visit, whimsy ( images 1-3) was the flavor of the calendar quarter, but over the years both Dutch and international painters have exhibited here.
The largest fixed work of art hangs in the Keizersgracht 238 restaurant, measing at least 20 feet long and six feet high. It was commissioned during a late 20th C renovation and created by the French artist Thierry de Cronieres. The title is "Hals' Brunch: Mirror of a rich past, but ready for the future " and offers a 20th C take on Franz Hals classic " The Last Supper ". Every passing reveals a new modern element appropriate to the 20th C - beer cans and soda bottles, cell phones, Marlboros, spray painted graffiti, video games on laptops, and even a Burger King Whopper. Many of the faces seem vaguely familiar as well - is Jesus really Tom Selleck? Is that Perrier, are those skateboards? Picture is worth the price of a meal ( images 4,5 ).
Favorite thing: The Montelbaanstoren is also called “Malle Jaap” (silly Jack) because the clock always gave the wrong time.
This tower dates from 1512 and was placed at the Oudeschans, as a part of a defence work against the attacks of the Geldersen.
The design is from Hendrik de Keyser, famous architect from the Zuiderkerk.
The wooden top came later (1606).
The meaning of the name Montelbaan is a subject of discussion. Some people think the Montelbaan point to the old and very strong castle Montauban in Guyenne, France, there are also people who think that once there was a house with the name “Montelbaan”.
Since 1878 the citywater office is housed in the tower.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
History of Amsterdam
Favorite thing: First appearance of the name of the city - Amsterdam was in the Middle Ages in the official documents. There is only a legend about its foundation, accordindg to which two fishermen, surprised by a violent storm while fishing at sea with their dog, were shipwrecked and built a refuge in the swamps, where the River Amstel flows into the estuary of Zuider Zee. This settlement, founded by the two fishermen and their families who joined them later, is said to be the origin of what was to be Amsterdam. They built a village at the mouth of Amstel River and also made a dam to protect their homes from the stormy waters. Therefore the name .. Amstelledamme (dam on the Amstel), which later became Amsterdam.
Fondest memory: The best place to learn about Amsterdam's founding and development over the years is the Amsterdam Historic Museum
Amsterdam HIstorical Museum
Favorite thing: The Amsterdam Historical Museum rejoices in a truly beautiful location, it was for centuries the home of the city’s orphans.
The museum opens onto one of Amsterdam’s busiest shopping streets, Kalverstraat.
In the urban centre, where once the little orphans of Amsterdam lived and learned, you can find out about the city’s history and the story of its people
Favorite thing: Be advised that many shops, restaurants & museums close on Monday,
We found a lot of the shops in the Nine little alleys closed as well as some eating places
I suppose the dutch deserve a rest day as well!!
It can be a bit unfortunate when you plan a long weekend so best to check that the museums you wish to visit are open on Monday.
What's on the roof?
Favorite thing: When taking the canal boat trip I started to wonder about what the thing standing out from the roof on almost every house was, as seen on this picture. The boat guide actually gave the answer before I even asked. It's a lift for moving furniture, and it's still used in that way.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
History 3 - Colonial times for getting goods
Favorite thing: From Amsterdam canal houses goods and especially spices were transported throughout the continent after being bought or … taken the hard way … from trading places and colonies. At the earliest phase of the colonial empires, The Netherlands had in earthly spreading the largest empire. Only Spain had a bigger absolute portion, but this was solely based in South America. Dutch influenced area’s were few fortresses along the West African coast, Southern Africa (the Kaap-province), Mocca in present Jemen-surroundings, coastal bases along the Indian shores, Ceylon (now-a-days: Sri Lanka), the Dutch Indies (Indonesia), Formosa (Taiwan) and furthest the trading-post “Decima” in Japanese Nagasaki. Westwards we found parts of Brasil, the Dutch Antilles and the surroundings of New Amsterdam (New York). The empire was no match for larger naval powers like England, that was in military sense stronger. Especially when The Netherlands itself became occupied by Napoleon the empire crumbled and fell apart. Trade however kept being a strong point for the Dutch and therefore even in present days The Netherlands are a power to be reckoned with. Now-a-days however Amsterdam sank to the seventh place in the harbour ranking list … still another Dutch town: Rotterdam, took over the first position in this matter.
Favorite thing: In 1275 count Floris V of Holland gave toll rights to the 'people living in Aemstelledam'.
This year is marked as the birth of Amsterdam. But the inhabitants of amsterdam were there years earlier. In 1220 the dam became the central point of the settlements at the banks of the river the Amstel. Around 1300 Amsterdam got city rights.
The old town was around the Damrak and between the Oude- and Nieuwe Zijds Voorburgwal. The city expanded in the next centuries. In 1612 a plan for the canals in half circles was presented. In the 17th century the city got this destincted form.
The website of the monument department of the city has great info on the old buildings of Amsterdam:
Fondest memory: The coat of arms of Amsterdam
The three crosses are Andreas crosses.They are named after saint Andreas, who is supposed to have died at such a cross. The origin of the coat of arms is unknown.
A very diverse town
Favorite thing: Amsterdam is a great place to experience all that is Dutch, but it's certainly not a monoethnic city. In fact, the population is fairly diverse and you'll be able to find all kinds of dining options ranging from traditional Dutch to Indonesian to South American. The area around Leidseplein was packed with all kinds of dining choices and appeared to be the most diverse that I ran across.
Checkout the pages from Mariajoy
Favorite thing: If you want to know something about Amsterdam you MUST need to check the pages made by Mariajoy.
I don't know any 'local' at VT that has made better tips and pics about our capital.
I take off my hat and bow very, very deep for you Maria.
Ouch, my back:-)
Dogs in Amsterdam
Favorite thing: We're talking real dogs not hot dogs (although they are pretty fabulous here)
You will notice that the Dutch exercise their dogs whilst still riding their bikes using a long extendable lead. Mind you don't get caught between the lead & the bicycle for a nasty fall.
According to my friend Han there are some irresponsible dog owners here who do not think it necessary to keep the dog on a leash so take care.
I found this sign "hond in de goot" fairly interesting does it mean dogs must be kept off the sidewalk and in the gutter or does it refer to they should poop in the gutter not in the sidewalk?? Not really sure what the policy is on clearing up after your pet anybody know?
Favorite thing: beguinage dates from 1346, it was a convent for sisters who didn?t do a chastity vow. In exchange for the shelter the sisters took care of sick people and gave lessons to the poor.
The houses where renovated between 1982 and 1987
The beguinage is one of the twenty habitat beguinage in Amsterdam.
In the 47 houses of this beguinage are living students and elderly ladies. The last sister died in 1971.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
History 4 - Not the capitol and yet the capitol
Favorite thing: In the Netherlands there’s a construction that not many foreigners understand. The government is situated in The Hague, but the capitol is Amsterdam. Well, this is a historical grown thing as indeed the governemental capitol was (and is still) The Hague. However, Amsterdam’s importance grew much faster then that of The Hague and at one moment it was just one of the most important places in the world, yet – no capitol! During French occupation (Napoleontic wars) the brother of the French conqueror decided that his residence was going to be Amsterdam and he made it into the “Batavian Republic’s” capitol. After being liberated from the “sansculots” the government started ruling again from The Hague, but the returned king choose also for the palace in Amsterdam as house. Later the “residence” became in a row “Apeldoorn”, “Soestdijk” and now again “The Hague”. Well, now you understand the strange situation in NL.
my daily journal
Favorite thing: we rang the bell to the b&b and finally met vera the owner of the b&b, she seems very friendly she gave us the lowdown on how they served breakfast and gave us the key to our own personal entrance. after all that we finally got to head off into amsterdam. we knew from day one of planning that we wanted to go to barney's for the sweet tooth and maybe some lunch. once we located barney's which was easy, we went in to experiance the first time buying weed in a public building to smoke in public without fear of jail. i knew the basics for how the coffeeshop's work so i approached the dealer and asked for the menu, he handed me a list of what they had and without looking i ordered 2 grams of sweet tooth cause that was the plan only to hear the man say, " we don't carry sweet tooth anymore" !!! DAMN! he quickly let me know that they had the next generation of sweet tooth called MORNING GLORY, and that was what they were entering in the cup in 3 days. we purchased 2 grams and sat at an empty table, we looked over the food menu and nothing sounded that great, so we just ordered some orange juice.
Fondest memory: i rolled up a nice joint and began to experiance first hand what dutch tolerance was all about.. WOW this bud was really nice, very smelly and crystally. good high nothing overpowering, i've had much stronger back home, but back home i gotta hide inside my house in order to smoke in peace. the bud was 10 euro a gram, which i thought may have been to steep from what i've heard. but it was a fat bag! as we sat enjoying our afternoon the dealer came over and asked us if we would mind moving to another table in order to accomidate a big group that came in, we had no problem with that and he sat us next to two ladies. they were from england and were happy to shed some light on the rules of coffeeshops etc...they mixed tobacco in their spliff and were blown away that we smoked only pure spliffs, we gave them a hit off ours and they fell in love with that sweet pure taste. they explained that in england top notch gear is really expensive so they have to make the bags last so that's why they mix in tobacco. we had some small talk, and they gave me a pack of their papers saying that the papers the shops use suck and we'll need these.Related to:
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