We dove in head first to the touristy things that Amsterdam has to offer. We started off the morning with a visit to the fantastic organic market.
This was torture because I wanted to buy more than I could possibly consume while I’m here or carry back. There was everything you could possibly need and quite a few things I really didn’t need: cheese, flowers, delicious looking brown bread, chocolate, olives, leg warmers, socks, jewelry, all sorts of clothes and coats, toothpaste (including my new favorite Swiss brand, Elmex), hardware, bicycle seats, antiques, CDs, soaps and lots more. Though we didn’t buy much, we did get a little snack from a British chap selling Bratwurst on a bun with sauerkraut. It is downright amazing to me how good it tasted.
Next I went to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. This is super tiny and not really much of a museum, but worth a look for any tulip lover. I couldn’t resist buying a bag of tulips even though they are incredibly heavy. Santa Barbara may not be the best climate for tulips, but I feel I have to try planting these in pots (so the gophers won’t get them). The guy there said with a month of chilling in the refrigerator, they should do fine.
It was a pretty, but slightly long, walk up to the Kattenkabinet cat museum. This is another small museum suitable only for a cat lover. It is slightly odd—several large elegant rooms filled with artwork depicting cats. There are also a few cats that wander about lending some extra credibility to the place. I thought it was interesting, and I loved the fact that it was practically empty so I had the place to myself.
It was only a block or so up the street to the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses. This museum is fantastic, and it has the largest collection of bags and purses in the world. The museum recently moved, so the building has been remodeled specifically for the displays which are extremely well done. I have emailed them with a request for some photos that I can use, so I will post those later.
Now, you really should have some interest in bags and purses to enjoy it properly. But if you have come with a disinterested husband, as I did, there is a nice little cafe on the 1st floor with a view of the charming garden in the back. Park him there and then go up to the top floor and work your way back down so that you see the exhibits in chronological order. It is quite educational and there are some absolutely stunning examples of artistic purses. I loved all the really old ones, from the 17th to the early 19th centuries. And if you need to use the WC, the one on the 1st floor is the nicest one I’ve seen on this trip—there are even purses displayed in the toilet stalls!
After the Purse Museum and a quick stroll through Rembrandt Plein and a bite to eat (we managed to find a shop that sold panini) we headed to the Heineken Brewery.
The Heineken Brewery Experience is really just that—an experience. It’s a self guided tour, and they give you beer. There are displays, interactive games and even rides of a sort. It’s like Disneyland, only they give you beer. It’s pretty brilliant. You wander through some educational displays that show you how beer is made. Then you experience a simulation of what it’s like to be a bottle in the Heineken factory. Then you have your first stop for beer. After that there are more games to play and things to experience and then you end up at the final bar where you get two more beers. There’s also a gift shop involved somewhere in there. As I said, it’s very Disney, but with beer.
So a day of shopping and museums—of tulips, cats, purses and beer. There’s something in there for everyone, and Amsterdam continues to amaze us.