Wednesday, 27 July 2016

July 27, 2016- Waterlooplein Flea Market and the Hermitage Amsterdam

Today we woke up and had a "berry" nice breakfast in our hotel room. We have been reveling in all of the fresh tasty fruit.

We had decided to go to Waterlooplein flea market today to check out what the canal tour boat operator had said was a place "where you can buy everything that you don't need." As we would see later, this was a very accurate statement.

The clouds were looking foreboding as we were walking eastward into the city.
Someone using a pulley and rope with the hook at the top of the house. This is the way they've moved things into houses for centuries and still do. If the system ain't broke, don't fix it.
By the Flower Market.
We walked through Rembrandtplein looking for a restaurant. Right before we crossed over the canal into Waterlooplein, it started raining. As it was time for lunch, we decided it would be best to duck into a restaurant as soon as possible and hope the worst of the rain would pass.

In the restaurant, April met a nice marmalade tabby cat, who was friendly and let her pet him (she is really missing Lamont at this point).
This list of things not to flush down the toilet was at the restaurant. Note how friendly the condom and tampon are.
The restaurant was so beautiful. There are fresh flowers all over the place in Amsterdam.
Kitty stalking a pigeon.
Our club sandwich and spicy chicken and guacamole sandwich.
After the rain let up a little, we crossed the canal into the Waterlooplein flea market. We wandered from stall to stall surveying the goods for sale in Waterlooplein. There were antiques, vintage clothes, cannabis related items, pottery bits and bobs, cheap tourist clothes, and other curio.

Why not try on glasses that I don't need?
After looking around for a while, in intermittent pouring rain (we ducked under stalls we weren't very interested in just to get out of the rain which kept coming and going- April was really starting to eye the old coats and fur coats as it was quite chilly today on top of being rainy), we looked in a store across the street that was only for cats (toys, food, litter boxes, etc.). We then went into a cafe down the street and tried a plain pancake and apple pancake with tea for an afternoon snack/ attempt at a warm up.
Classic pancake and apple pancake.
Cat store.
People around here really don't know what to make of us. They usually speak to us in Dutch to begin with and we sometimes understand what they're saying and answer in English, which confuses them even more. Some people will switch to English, but other people just try again speaking in Dutch (especially to April, who they don't seem to be able to believe is not Dutch- she's familiar with this problem from last time she was here).

We walked from the cafe over to the Hermitage Amsterdam (a branch of the Russian Hermitage). The rain was really coming down and it was so cold.
Beautiful old bridge.

Outside the Hermitage Amsterdam.
We made it to the museum. We had to pay a 2.50 EU supplement each on top of our Museumkaart (regular price to see normal exhibits plus two special exhibits of large group portraits and Catherine the Great was 25 EU per person without the Museumkaart). The museum was all air conditioned which would have been lovely on the hot days, but April didn't even have sleeves or a sweater or anything and felt very cold.

We looked at all the exhibits. The opulent wealth of the Russians was stunning at a time when peasants were basically starving to death and working themselves into early graves. It's easy to see the seeds of the Revolution being laid. Catherine is dressed in pearls, diamonds, and silk satin buying up entire collections of art from art collectors at their death and the peasants are eating moldy rye bread. Yep, that's a recipe for disaster.

Catherine was more interested in collecting art than her husband. By her death, she had accumulated over 4,000 paintings and over 10,000 sketches, sculptures, cameos, pieces of furniture, and other items. Interestingly, there was intermarriage between the Russian royal family and the Dutch royal family and eventually this came in handy. One of the monarchs in the Netherlands lost their art collection (it was auctioned off) and when the Tsar at the time heard of this, he ordered his agents to go and buy up the whole Dutch royal collection of art, so it wouldn't be lost. And this seems to be how the association between the Hermitage in Russia and the one in Amsterdam came to be.
Portrait of John Locke
Catherine the Great in all of her finery.
Looking down on the Catherine the Great Exhibit.
To be able to capture fire like this in a painting! Wow!
The Hermitage had a Rembrandt of a doctor learning anatomy from a dissection on a cadaver. There were some impressively large group portrait paintings too.
Hall of huge group portraits.

A rather gruesome but educational Rembrandt.
And of course there was a section with some odd modern art pieces.

Okinawa lion by a modern Japanese artist. This ties well to our Japanese trip 6 years ago where we saw many Okinawan lions.

We went to leave the Hermitage, but the rain was really coming down. We figured we might go to Waterlooplein and try to get a taxi from one of the nearby hotels, but we just didn't come across a taxi, so we just walked as fast as we could towards the hotel. We met another marmalade tabby cat along the way and he also let April pet him. She was thrilled.
Come back to my hotel, kitty, you can trust me . . .

Rembrandtplein figures of the Night Watch.
We stopped at the grocery store in the middle of the museums, near to our hotel and picked up some provisions for tomorrow and the next day's breakfast (we leave Friday morning for Barcelona). We walked home in the pouring rain, becoming more and more drenched and bedraggled. 
A few more minutes and we would have transformed into water rats!
At the hotel we had a hot shower and then ordered in Caesar salads from room service. They are seriously probably the best Caesar salads that we've ever eaten. We had some "drop" or licorice for dessert. The licorice is so fresh and strong tasting compared to the stuff we have in Canada.

This society is so interesting. The canal tour said that in the golden age, the rich burghers were making 700,000 Euros a month, a figure not surpassed by many modern wealthy people. And it can be seen everywhere from the beautiful houses still standing in the core, the opulent artwork that was commissioned, and the how nice of a place Amsterdam has always been to live.

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