Thursday, December 8, 2011
Canals and Cuisine
My second full day in Amsterdam began fairly early. I tried the breakfast in the hotel, which was a mistake because it was ridiculously overpriced, although I did get to try a Dutch pancake. Countries are funny about food. In England, what they call "pancakes" is a cross between a crepe and a plain flour tortilla- and frankly they're pretty gross. Here there are tons of pannekoek houses, which serve nothing but Dutch pancakes all day long. The hotel offered some as part of the continental breakfast and they are delicious- mine had apples and cheese, though they come in many sorts and are sort of like thin slices of fried dough.
After breakfast I walked from Waterlooplein to the house of Rembrandt. Rembrandthuis is a neat museum with reconstructed living spaces, painting studios and so on. I then went to a canal cruise which left from in front of the Heineken Brewery (I did not go to the Brewery). The canal cruise was about an hour and half, and was definitey one of the highlights of my time here- the tour guide was very funny. For example, while learning about the gabled canal houses he mentioned the famous gables: stepped, bell, pediment, and Clark. We went all around the city. I learned that my hotel is not on a canal, but on the Amstel River, the only natural river in the city, and that the city is named for a dam built on the Amstel. The beautiful city does feel like Venice, there are so many canals and houseboats. It was also nice to look at the city from inside a warm boat, as the weather has been very, very cold.
I had a late lunch, then walked through Chinatown and St Nikolasskerk to the Maritime Museum. It was only open for an hour when I got there, but I went, and got a quick look. I then walked by Artis at night, which is a zoo, planetarium, botanic garden, and paleontology site. Walking by a zoo a night is a little weird. I then continued to feel weird as I walked through the Red Light district again, before heading to Rembrandtplein to have a fancy dinner at IndiaPura- an Indonesian restaurant. Rachel had strongly suggested trying Indonesian food in Amsterdam, and it was without a doubt the best meal I've had since Italy. Since my last best meal was with Rachel, and this one suggested by her, I now associate Rachel with excellent food. :-)