Tuesday, 26 July 2016

July 23, 2016- The Hidden Catholics, the Protestants, the Red Light District, Chinatown, Indonesia Food, and Euro Pride 2016

We woke up late  at 10 a.m. today and had a pseudo breakfast of a protein bar at our hotel as we tried to brace ourselves for walking around the city in the middle of the night (for our internal clocks at least).
The canal by our hotel.
We walked to a nearby Belgian Bakery and had salads for lunch. They were truly delicious and we devoured the vegetable goodness of the meal (it can be tough to find as many fruits and vegetables as we are used to eating back at home). We ended it by sharing an apple tart and a pain au chocolat (chocolate filled croissant). Mmmmmmmmm.

We walked from Museum Quarter, where our hotel and the bakery are, through Jordaan. Jordaan is a neighbourhood that all tour guides seem to recommend for a chill and beautiful walk. And it was beautiful and quite peaceful compared the centre of town that is like a doughnut filled with sticky tourist custard that you weren't expecting and don't want to deal with. We paused to buy a Spa Rood (the fizzy water, red is the fizzy version, other colours have other flavours and iterations). We continued along the edge of the Nine Streets area (shi shi shi baby- this is where some of the fancy independent boutiques are).

We entered into the centre, looking for Oude Kerk in the maze like streets. We were hot and tired and decided to take advantage of our Museumkaart by going into a museum or site that we had not intended on going in (or at least not as a priority), Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic). This is one of the many hidden Catholic churches that were an open secret in Amsterdam during the old times when you were supposed to be Protestant. We were given our free tickets, we took advantage of the bathrooms (bathrooms are so, so, so much nicer and cleaner in Amsterdam than the rest of Europe) and we started up the winding old rickety steps towards the church in the attic. It was hotter, then hotter, then hotter, and then we had to climb up even further. The hot air rose with us (unclear over whether that was religious doctrine or just the weather). Oh, and part of the way up we had to put little plastic shower cap things over our shoes and we were walking on old worn wood steps that only took half of our foot and winding (this was an occupiers liability nightmare or personal injury lawyer's heaven). The church was beautiful and you could rise two more levels above the altar and look down on it. The view out of the windows to the canal and the rooftops of Amsterdam was gorgeous. Sweat rolled down our backs. We walked back down. I lost a shower cap along the way and never found it.
View from the Church in the Attic

Swampy with sweat, but still smiling.

Two levels above the altar, looking down on the church in the attic. The organ is one level below this.

We left the place and continued our winding walk through the oldest part of town that used to be behind a wall, De Wallen, and houses the red light district.

Old and new mix.

We went to Oude Kerk. We were told we could only go up into the tower on a tour and that it was a little later, so we went and looked in the church itself. It is much, much, much less ornate than the Catholic churches we looked at last year in Paris (see Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle) or the Muslim mosque we went to in Casablanca (Hassan II). It was mostly just stone, plain windows, and a bit of stained glass. We lit a couple of candles and left. The tour to view the tower was sold out so we left.

There was a weird modern art exhibit going on in the middle of Oude Kerk.

We wandered the maze like streets until we found an Indonesian restaurant to eat at for dinner. We had chicken, mixed vegetables mixed with coconut meat, and rice.

After dinner, we continued our exploration of De Wallen, looking for the Chinese temple and Chinatown area. We found the temple, which was closed, plus a bunch of different Chinese shops with their own Dutch flavour.

The Chinese Temple.

We wandered towards home through the Dam area and happened upon a free public concert for Euro Pride 2016 which is starting around now for about a month. It was a medley of a bunch of EDM songs from the 90's that the Dutch (and April) were seriously into. 


Euro Pride 2016 was in full swing.
After watching, we walked home through Jordaan, finding an Arab market to pick up some groceries at. We then walked through the Fashion/Shopping District which has a street lined with Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc. It was closed of course.

We arrived back at the hotel past 9:00 pm. after 14.64 kms of walking and a lot of sweating. We were exhausted.
Remember, guys, to always wear bloomers, you never know who is going to be looking up your skirt.

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