I didn’t have a time to write my blog regularly because I was out whole day and then in the evening I wasn’t quite in the mood to type. Anyway, Amsterdam happened few times in the meantime. On the first day (which was quite nice) I decided to take a canal cruise through A’dam’s canals (utterly touristic). I was sitting outside of the boat so that I could make a photos without glass (the boat was covered) and therefore couldn’t hear the story guide has been telling about the buildings before we were passing, but anyway I’ve read about that in the guide. The only thing was that after cruising I went to walk and then took almost the same route which I realized only after few hours and checking photos I’ve made.

Everything looks the same. So many times I thought “I have to take a photo of that, and that, and this, and that …” only to realize that those photos are almost the same. Another curious thing is that I’ve managed (in spite of the fact I had a map) to get lost so many times! Everyone told me Amsterdam is not big city but then I didn’t expect it’s so small. So many times I was heading towards one point and after so much walking without finding it turned out that I must have passed that point long ago and almost reach the point which is not on the map whatsoever! Also it happened numerous times that When I finally managed to locate on the map where I am after only few minutes I’ve been lost again! Today (on the lovely meeting with Dutch BookCrossers I had) I’ve heard explanation.Namely, on the BC convention hosts were explaining how the streets of Amsterdam aren’t straight but in the shape of a horseshoe, following the canal rings. What they forgot to say that after every half an hour (or so) the whole horseshoe pattern is moving anticlockwise and all streets aren’t at the same position on the map as they used to be before that click. Gosh that was so frustrating! But then after few days of not having the slightest idea where you’re going everything become quite clear and simple. (today I know perfectly where should I go to reach Van Gogh’s Museum and then where should I go to reach CaffePlaza to meet other BookCrossres)

But to go back on the first day… After finishing canal cruising I went to walk through the streets and bridges of A’dam. And suddenly in one moment I’ve heard knocking on the glass next to my ear so I instinctively turned my head in that direction. OK I know A’dam has Red Light District and of course I was planing to visit it but I didn’t know where exactly it is and even less that I’m in the middle of it. When I turned my head I saw big (really big) almost completely naked woman in her 50ties (or even more) winking me and inviting me inside. I must say the scene wouldn’t be pretty even if I have been prepared. If I wanna be completely honest it was scary, but of course I’m not used to those kind of window shopping so I needed a little more time to realize that’s OK; it’s OK to look at those women, to wink back or even to accept invitation. So The Red Light District turned out to be the first place I visited in Amsterdam and it was quite interesting. Also the real window stars can bee seen when night starts to fall although indeed there is a pick for all sorts of preferences.

[now I’m gonna time-jump again]

I saw great exhibition in Amsterdam Historical Museum: “The Hoerengracht (1983-1988)”. This world-famous iinstallation is a walk through reinterpretation of a section of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. With its display of richly decorated rooms of window prostitutes, the work is more than a superb example of assemblage art. It is a monument to the Wallen (window prostitution) of the 1980s and this is the first time the work is shown in Amsterdam. the exhibition examines the connection between art and Red Light District. Alongside Kienholz’s (authors of the exhibition Edward and Nancy Kienholz) work, international contemporary artists comment on the theme of window prostitution. “Role Exchange” by Marina Abramovic, for example, explores what happens when an artist and a prostitute change places. For four hours they changed places: prostitute went to the exhibition opening while Abramovis took her place in the window. I was so excited when I saw this installation: There are two screens: one was showing Marina in the window smoking and smiling to the viewers (me) and the other, prostitute chatting with people at the exhibition opening.

As I said I didn’t want to be in the museums when the weather was so nice so I walked whole first few days. I went in the Westerkerk and its tower (the tallest in the city at 85m). The church also has the largest nave of any Dutch protestant church. Rembrandt was buried here though his grave has never been found. The panoramic views of Amsterdam from the top of the tower indeed justify the rather gruelling climb. We were lucky cause the weather was so nice so the views were fantastic.

Beside the Westkerk is [in typical Dutch spirit] Homomonument, monument dedicated to the homosexual women and men who lost their lives during World War II. The pink triangular badge which gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps later became an emblem of gay pride and was an inspiration for this monument which consists of three large pink granite triangles.

In the same street where is Westkerk is also Anne Frank House but when I saw how huge queue is I decided just to pass it. I might go there before return although I’m not keen on spending hours in the line. By the way I visited (just on short) Van Gogh’s Museum today and and it was such an emotional experience. However I’m not going to write about that now. I’ll go there few more times for sure so it’ll be separate post. I’m just mentioning this because when I peeked out of the museum on the street I saw 1km line of people waiting to enter the museum. The same situation was with Rijksmuseum. And today it was raining incredibly (first day with rain whole day long). I didn’t wait cause I purchased Museum Card which allows beside free entrance in almost all Dutch museums, skipping the waiting line 🙂

Anyway, day before Queen’s Day is of course Queen’s Night. It is the day when many people arrives in Amsterdam and the party is starting. By the way, on Queen’s Day Amsterdam at least doubles its population (750000), not only with foreign tourists (like me) but with Dutch from other cities as well. All of a sudden there’s complete blockage of all streets in Amsterdam by people. Every single square has a stage with DJs or different groups. I was cruising from one to another; they were mainly house music which was OK but not to much fun. Then there was stages where people were having great fun but it was sort of Dutch folk music and I must say that certainly is not my mug of tea. It reminded me on some German, Alpine yodelling (not the same but leaves that impression), with middle aged men with accordion, guitar, violin but the audience was screaming the words. It was silly. And then I’ve found the stage with the disco music from 70s-80s and that was a blast! They were singing Bony M songs with all choreography and costumes and I had really great time! Oh and then rain shower started but I didn’t even mind that! It was such a great time indeed.

And then next day (Apr 30th) was the Queen’s Day, the biggest, craziest holiday in The Netherlands … but I think I’ll write about that, next time.