04.07.2012 - 08.07.2012 20 °C
We left Russia on a good note. We finally ditched our guide and alone with the driver, Lincoln and I laughed all the way to the airport- funny hearing each side and different points of view.
We landed in Amsterdam. We were excited because we have been here and it added more vacation rather than adventure. All the initial finding the airport train, buying tickets, trying to find the hotel- much smoother.
For this leg of the trip, I decided to change hotels. We stayed at the Rennescance and it was great. Very affordable, good area, however, I wanted to try a more central neighborhood. We stayed at The Grand a Sofitel hotel. It was very central. We were very impressed the moment we turned into the courtyard. This is rare in Amsterdam. They had an amazing garden seating and were very serious oriented- almost too much.
Being in a new neighborhood gave us a different perspective. I can see that Amsterdam is trying to become more of a cultural destination. The threat of banning the "coffee houses" may be the spark to clean up the city and try to attract a different market. Our first stop- The Hermitage in Amsterdam- maybe not first.... They had an Impressionist exhibit and it was so nice. They definitely had some fantastic pieces from the main collection. The museum was so nice- not full of certain cultures snapping pictures at everything. We were able to read, linger and evaluate at different angles. We then found a fantastic upscale deli and bought picnic supplies. This time we found some great areas and shared wine and coffee, took photos as the sun was setting.
The next day, we traveled outside Amsterdam to the Kroller-Mueller Museum. A wealthy family donated there collection to the Dutch government to save it from auction during the depression. Helen Mueller became interested in art late in life and had a talent for art. She was one of the first to discover Van Gogh and bought works from Theo's widow and other collectors. She has a fantastic collection from early to late. We took a train and 2 buses to get there. The actual trip was not so difficult- just waiting for the buses. I was a bit disappointed because they rotate pieces or some were out on loan. This museum was very elegant.
The next day, Lincoln found a Stanley Kubrick exhibit. It was at the EYE- on the north island. We had another coffeehouse start our day and the exhibit was fantastic. This is an art house film theater with special exhibits. Very quality. We learned about his start as a photographer and how his movies evolved. There were great behind the scene photos with letters from the actors that worked with him; protestors and his responses. Clips and props from key movies. Lincoln is a huge fan and he was so happy.
We then went to the major museums. They are under construction and we were so lucky we went last year. The museum was very limited. Even the Van gogh museum was not as full.
The nights are still light until 11 pm. Restaurants stop serving around 10- except for the fast food places. After our sight seeing, we would find wine and hummus or cheese and chill in the parks. So many people would be doing the same things. I noticed this in Helsinki and to so much in Russia. We really enjoyed this part- the trying to find dinner afterwards was not so easy.
We stumbled into a great Chinese restaurant and chatted with a local.