The waning moon was glowing in front of the sanatorium´s window of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (France) from which extensive fields of wheat could be seen. For several minutes he was captivated by the night-time scene. The stars seemed to be speaking to him while emanating light pulses that summer night. Vincent woke up late the next morning and he painted one of his most famous works, The Starry Night (De sterrennacht, in Dutch). His museum, The Van Gogh Museum (but not this painting) is located in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, which I visited recently.
The regional train arrived on time to Amsterdam Central, coming from the Schiphol airport at 11:02 am. The NS railway Company conveniently connects all the cities of the Netherlands.
As soon as I leave the station, I find myself at Stationsplein (Station Square), which is crossed by multiple tram lines. I am one of the dozens of people who, like me, come to visit the capital or, on the contrary, originally set out for other destinations. The first view of the city, with the coming and going of the people produces a feeling of freedom and comfort for the visitors. It is only when you look back that you can see the first architectural masterpiece of the city. The Neo-Renaissance style train station with its red and black toned design and adorned with Golden ornaments was constructed at the end of the XIX century.
After photographing the central station, I go exploring to get familiar with the city of canals. Damrak is the main avenue linking the station with the city center. But, be careful! Look both ways because millions of bicycles are passing through Amsterdam and it is not unusual to witness an accident happen.
Before I reached the Damplein (Dam Square) I unfold my umbrella. The climate is very rainy here although the weather can change throughout the day alternating between rain and the sun. The square is divided in two; to the left (leaving the station behind us) is the National Monument, a white obelisk that commemorates the fallen of World War II. In its surroundings there are many people sitting to relax. To the right is the Royal Palace with a beautiful green dome and nearby you also find the Madame Tussauds wax museum.
To get an idea have a look here.
Nearby is my hotel overlooking one of the multiple canals that surround the city center. There are more than 160 canals throughout the city. I recommend visitors book their hotel or hostel room in advance since tourism is increasing and it is not uncommon to find “Sorry, No vacancies” posted on the doors. To do this, look at these hosting ideas.
At 12:45 pm I have a very special appointment. I walk through the streets of typical houses, where I find very special corners decorated with flowers. I step next to the Homomonument dedicated to the LGTB collective. It is designed with three triangles that form an even larger imaginary triangle.
One of these triangles points directly to the house I was heading towards, Anne Frank’s house. The refuge where the Jewish girl hid with her family in the 1940’s still holds some relics of what must have been an anguished stay. Covered windows hide the interior or pictures of magazines stuck on the walls and even the bookcase, which separated the factory from the “hiding place” or “The Secret Annex”. There is also the Anne Frank Museum, where you can learn how she wrote her famous diary.
A good tip is to schedule your visit to the Anne Frank museum in advance and avoid the long lines. Sometimes waiting in the lines can take hours.
“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!” Anne Frank.
Heading to my next stop, and always following the small boats and canoes that sail through the Canals I find the Flower Market. There, thousand of flowers of many varieties are sold; especially the famous Dutch bulbs such as tulips or daffodils. In front of the flower stands are different places where they sell the typical souvenirs and painted watercolors of the city. Ah, by the way, on this same street I found a shop where it is Christmas 365 days a year!
One interesting thing about Amsterdam is that you can buy snacks in “mailboxes” along the streets. These “mailboxes” are small transparent drawers where different foods such as croquettes (a breadcrumb roll filled with vegetables or meat) are arranged. To try one, simply enter the correct amount of money and you can open the drawer. Another delectable find are the cheese shops where they offer you samples of multiple varieties of cheeses such as spicy or lavender as well as bites of stroopwafels, a typical sweet.
After having a coffee with honey I turn to visit a very special and busy square named, Rembrandtplein; where there is a sculptural representation of Rembrandt’s painting, “The Night Round”.
After a while I go to another of the many squares in the capital of the country. The square is known as Museumsplein (Museum Square) where the well-known letters IAMSTERDAM can be found.
Of course, among the more than 50 museums that the city has to offer, I choose the one dedicated to my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Although not all his works remain in the Netherlands, I left satisfied to have had the chance to admire his work, ingenuity and eccentric short life.
The night began to fall and Amsterdam began to transform into the city of exciting nightlife. At night, Amsterdam can offer something for all walks of life. But, I will tell you all about that in Amsterdam at Night.
Are you traveling to Amsterdam or any other destination? You can search for the best accommodations here.