Pot, hookers, bikes, canals. That’s Amsterdam in a nutshell, right? And what’s the saying about when in Rome? So yes, we stopped by a coffee shop to check out the hype (meh) and awkwardly shuffled through the De Wallen district at the tame hour of nine o’clock while prostitutes stood in the windows texting. I can also confirm that walking around the city is a lesson in vigilance with a gazillion cyclists zipping by (and no one wears a helmet!). Finally, the canals are indeed as captivating and exotic in person as in a postcard. But of course, Amsterdam is an embarrassment of riches—architecturally, historically, culturally—and we only scratched the surface during our four days there.* Here is a recap of our mellow Dutch trip in twenty photos.**
Gah! This was the first time I laid eyes on the Herengracht canal near our hotel. In the 17th century, the wealthiest merchants and most influential mayors lived here.
Warped reality: chillin’ along the Herengracht on a dreamy day. (Pro tip: click on each photo in this post to enlarge, especially this one.)
Suspension of belief: my smile is saying, “Holy crap! We’re actually in Amsterdam!” (Did I mention the bikes?)
Quintessential Amsterdam: this image perfectly captures the vibe of “De Negen Straatjes” (The Nine Streets), a shopping area filled with art galleries, cafes, designer shops, etc. You’ve got hipsters, a man-bun, flower boxes, graffiti, and a bike.
Living the dream: charming houseboat parked near green foliage and orderly façades.
All is calm on the waterfront: view of the majestic Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal). Btw, get used to these classic perspective shots cuz they’re right up Amsterdam’s alley.
Cultural touchstone: the gorgeous Rijksmuseum designed by Pierre Cuypers in 1885.
Pride of place: a security guard wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Ethereal fantasy: the “Shylights” installation, a mesmerizing mechanical ballet of silk flowers. Watch the Hyperlapse video below to get the full effect.
Honoring an innovator: the blockbuster “Late Rembrandt” exhibition showed that the Dutch master remained an inventive genius during what had previously been considered the waning years of his career.
This is colossal: massive crowds in front of “The Night Watch.” Rembrandt was the first artist to paint figures in a group portrait (in this case, a militia company) actually doing something versus being posed and static.
Small and sublime: “The Milkmaid” by Johannes Vermeer. This photo doesn’t come close to conveying its vibrant glow and vivid colors.
Exquisite composition: “Festoon of Fruit and Flowers” by Jan Davidsz de Heem. Out of all the Flemish still-lifes on display, this one caught my eye. The tradition lives on to this day in works by American photographer Sharon Core. (See my Pinterest link below.)
Slow burn: a dramatic sunset at 10 pm on the Prinsengracht.
Gilding the Herengracht: our canal cruise passed through the “Gouden Bocht” (Golden Bend), the most prestigious section of the canal boasting double-wide mansions and deep lots. (Life was good for the one-percenters during the Dutch Golden Age.) The YouTube video below is a Hyperlapse of houseboats earlier in the tour.
Leisure land: spectacular day at Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s version of Central Park where the lucky locals walk their dogs, run, bike, picnic, play, kiss, and more.
Naming rights: the park was originally named “Het Nieuwe Park” (the New Park) but once this statue of Joost van den Vondel, a prominent 17th century poet and playwright, was built in 1867, everyone started calling it, well, you know.
Outfit of the day: t-shirt and cardigan by J.Crew, AG Stilt jeans, Kate Spade crossbody bag, Nixon watch, and Nike Internationalist sneakers.
A soul singer pops up: hey, it’s Joss Stone! She was being interviewed before a concert at the Vondelpark Pavilion.
Scenic send-off: parting shot and parting thought.
* Call us traitors against humanity but the Anne Frank House did not make it onto our final itinerary.
** You may be wondering, surely you took more pictures than this? Well, Amsterdam came at the tail end of our vacation when our shutterbug ways were fading. And some places like the sensational Van Gogh Museum and the seedy Holland Casino (where we saw a bit of the World Poker Tour) forbade photos altogether. It was probably a good thing because constantly whipping out your camera to capture a moment apparently dulls your memory of it. Only time will tell.
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