Netherlands - Days 3-8, Amsterdam

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November 2nd 2018
Published: November 5th 2018
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After leaving my friends, I took a train to Amsterdam Centraal. With my heavy bags, I just took a taxi to my hotel in Westerpark. The Conscious Hotel was our designated accommodation for the training, even though the training itself was held at other locations. This is yet another modern hotel, but placed in a former factory in a beautiful park. So the location was nice, but kind of far away from everything. Check in was similar to my first night, where we had to do it ourselves. But my room was ready and it was huge. And freezing. Someone had left the window open and it didn't warm up until well after I went to bed....

I was able to take a nap and a quick shower before meeting our group at a nearby restaurant, Troost Brewery, for dinner. It was good to see two former co-workers - one from Qatar and one from California - and meet other people from offices all over the world. Dinner was pretty good (fish and chips for me) and their beer was good as well. It was kind of loud though, so I could really only communicate with a small group of people.

The next couple of days were cold and rainy, but we still had to walk half an hour to our training session. First though, was a huuuuuge delicious breakfast. One of the few times the cost of the breakfast equalled the quality: three types of bread (croissant, biscuit thing, and the best sourdough bread I've ever, ever had), different types of egg every day, ham or turkey, quinoa salad, and delicious orange juice. I also occasionally had either tea or cappuccino. The best part, is it kept me very full until our late lunches and got me energized for our walks to training. So, the first session was held at a restaurant over water (REM Island) for the morning, but we had to go in town for the afternoon session, another half hour walk. That evening, we had wine and beer to "chat" after training and before our 45 minute walk to dinner at Hannekes Boom. We got lost on the way, but fortunately dinner was worth it: I had a sea bass with mushroom risotto and wine. But, by 9:30, I was dead and falling asleep at the table (the time change the previous weekend made the time difference 3 hours, so it was after midnight when we finished eating). Fortunately, a co-worker in town for the last meeting gave me and a few more a ride back.

The next morning was a cold, steady rain, so many of us got a taxi to take us to the training. Much better! Plus we had the separate room to ourselves the entire day. This place also served us lunch and it was good, though generally the same - each day a different soup, a salad, and a sandwich with huge slices of delicious bread. I honestly don't remember the sandwich fillers for the most part (once was smoked salmon), but the bread was yum. The second day for dinner we got a little break beforehand and then met at an Italian restaurant near the hotel, Bella Storia. We just got group platters and ate family style: appetizers, ravioli, pizza and wine. I'm still craving NY Style pizza...

The last day, my former manager from Qatar put on the morning training session - he was so entertaining and insightful. It was a highlight for many. Lunch there again before wrapping up with afternoon projects. Then it was time to say goodbye. Some people were going straight to the airport, some to trains to other locations, and a few of us back to the hotel. I had successfully changed my flight to Saturday, and extended my stay for one more night, though I had to change rooms. With lunch and the usual giant breakfast earlier, I was still fairly full, so I got a bottle of wine, a bag of organic chips, and set up in my new, smaller (and honestly preferred) room. It was on the top floor with the same size bed, but it was cozier, and it had skylights instead of giant windows (you could stand on the bed and look out). I couldn't wait to fall asleep to the sound of rain...

the next morning, I was unable to extend another day, so I booked at a hotel near the train station - art'otel. It looked nice and different, a bit on the pricey side but I figured it was good for one night. So, after my favorite breakfast, I put my luggage in storage and made my way to town via a 24 hour transportation pass. It was pretty easy to find
Rijksmuseum - the Meagre GroupRijksmuseum - the Meagre GroupRijksmuseum - the Meagre Group

by Frans Hal and Pieter Codde
and board the nearby tram, which directly dropped me in front of the Rijksmuseum. It was 9 am, right when it opened, so it was pretty easy to get tickets and walk through the main exhibit - the Night Watch Gallery. In the center, down a nice long hall, is Rembrandt's giant masterpiece. It was quite impressive and for a few moments, I actually had the room to myself. But, I actually preferred the painting to the left, Meagre Company (the Company of Captain Reinier Raeel and Lieutenant Cornelius Michielz Blaeuw), painted initially by Frans Hals and completed by Pieter Codde. Codde finished the figures on the right which were my favorite. When you got so close, the figures seemed so lifelike.

I wandered down the hall some more and found my new favorite artist: Jan Steen. He had a whole room off the hall devoted to his works, which are humorous and generally tell a story. One was the celebration of St Nick, where good children got a bucket of treats while naughty children got a shoe full of sticks; one boy was naughty and crying, while the others seemed to laugh at him. Another was where a
Jan SteenJan SteenJan Steen

drunk couple getting robbed
drunk, old couple who were passed out under a picture of an owl (considered a stupid animal at the time) were being robbed. Each picture was interesting.

I then made my way through the rest of the museum. I saw most everything in just over two hours. I didn't spend much time in the majority of the places, but saw areas devoted to ship models, Delftware, musical instruments, night lanterns (which were a very early version of motion pictures), etc. Then I shopped in the gift shop for souvenirs, though it was kind of limited.

I was still tired after the very long week, but decided to try one more thing before chilling. Since the Heinekken brewery was close by, I headed that way and got a tour ticket for the Heinekken experience. It was a bit pricey at 21 euros, but it was fun and included two full beers and a tasting. It was very very busy, and I had noticed the moment I stepped in that it smelled like a hay barn; later, there were horses in the back, demonstrating how they used to deliver around town. Every now and then there were tour guides who gave us a brief history, such as how Heinekken amongst other European beer companies tried to jump on the train once America's Prohibition was over. I think if you had gotten a beer when you walked in, the tour itself would be more enjoyable - so I kind of recommended to have a drink or something before you come. But the beer came fast and tasted good, so I was able to chill there before heading back to my hotel.

Once back, I had planned to get lunch as I hadn't eaten since breakfast, but I guess breakfast is the only meal of the day that they're prepared for as I waited 20 minutes for a cappuccino before I decided not to even bother with what would be a pricey lunch. So, I gathered my bags and headed back onto the tram towards my new hotel.

Art'otel is right across from Amsterdam Centraal and in a busy part of town, but the hotel itself was amazing. They offered me water or a glass of wine while I checked in (at this point, water was just fine!). My room was ready and I went up and pretty much gasped.

wish I had spent more time here. Incredible hotel
It was huge, modern, and cozy. So tastefully decorated and it seemed like they had everything. I took two showers and loved loved loved the bathroom (one of my hotel requirements). I went down to the empty yet very friendly bar for lunch - I got burger, well-done, but bloody juice soaked the bread and dripped onto the plate. I couldn't eat it all... They also have an art exhibit downstairs which is just a quick walk through, but a fun touch.

After my late lunch, I walked around a little bit and went to a nearby "grocery" which was mainly a souvenir shop with chips and soda actually, but I was finally able to get a hairbrush. Second to last day, I can brush my hair! By this point, I was tired, and decided to really enjoy my new room (and take a nice long shower - which was amazing).

The next morning, I had hoped to get an a la carte breakfast, but they only had a buffet for 25 euros. So, I walked around the neighborhood while looking for a cute place for brekkie. The sun was just coming up and looked great behind the Church of St Nicholas. I wandered through the small streets, thinking how much it reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans - obviously parties had gone on the night before and the street cleaners were out en masse. It was also really cool to see the imperfect buildings along the streets; some of us in training had wondered how there was not more obvious settlement in the buildings. But when you walked around slowly, you could see some cracks, tilting, settlement, etc. One building in particular was tilted in toward the road, but still seemed in great condition. It was so interesting. I finally walked to a cafe around the corner from my hotel and it left me satisfied with just a ham croissant and cappuccino. Then it was time to head to the train station and my last leg of the trip....

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


Jan SteenJan Steen
Jan Steen

celebration of St Nick (note naughty crying boy)

Apothecary cabinet

blurry, but I like the set up

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