Thursday, 11 August 2016

Charmful Canals of Amstel - Day 3

Peaceful Canal

Amsterdam                                                            Netherlands

Sunday 22nd February 2015

Surprisingly I woke up really early with my legs slightly aching with all the walking yesterday. I opened the curtains to witness a nice clear sky with the sun beaming down for once. A very long time passed before I heard from Sam maybe because we were out late. In fact I probably wouldn’t have heard from him at all if I didn’t knock on his door. He answered and it looked as though he had just got up. He explained that he had a rough night because of some noisy neighbours arguing; it’s a shame considering he didn’t get to sleep until 4am. He eventually got changed and at this point we headed out as we had no breakfast yet. We left for a pub called ‘The Three Sisters’ which was not far from the hotel. We entered into a very large pub with yet its own look about the place with huge colourful glass lampshades across the bar alongside the intricately designed glass ceiling. 

The Three Sisters Pub

The place was pretty much empty as we sat at a couple of red leather chairs. Unfortunately, as I sat down, the table was about level with my chin which made me feel like a dwarf. I didn’t want to ask for a booster seat so I had to sit at the bench on the left of the chairs. They were selling full English breakfasts so we both chose to have that. In no time at all it had arrived and it looked appetising and smelt delicious. We both wolfed it down like there was no tomorrow and it had helped fill our growling bellies. Today was mainly about shopping for gifts so from paying the food bill, we headed to the shopping area to the west. 

One of Many Coffee Shops

The majority of the shops were the expensive brand names which we tended to avoid as best as we could. The novelty souvenir shops were scattered throughout the area and we tried to have a look in everyone even though each one had similar items. A typical shop had items such as clog slippers, cannabis related items, red light district jokey gifts, funny T-shirts along with hooded jumpers, key rings, fridge magnets and postcards. However, it felt as though each shop had something different about it. There were a lot of things that interested me for people back home so whatever I thought suited them I would buy it such as magnets, a wooden tulip, clogs, etc. Sam and I stumbled across a toy shop so we’d thought to have a quick look around for ourselves (I mean the kids back home). Some of it was alright but our inner child came out as soon as we seen the NERF guns, Transformer toys and Pokémon figures. A bit of time passed before we took our leave from the store, but as we headed down a flight of stairs, we were surprised to see a life size statue of Spiderman. 


Next we decided to have a look inside one of many cheese shops as curiosity got the better of me. As we entered, we were immediately welcomed by the sight of large yellow disc shaped cheese set upon wooden shelving across the shop. It was a very interesting little shop and it also had little tasters along the way which I took advantage of being the mouse I was. Some of them tasted funny but some were amazing. 

Cheese shop

We then walked into the huge dam square and couldn’t help but admire the shear size of the buildings surrounding us. In the square we were drawn towards a street performer who was a bit crazy plus he was a British man.  He was still funny nonetheless as he was acting like a man out of luck and talking about his life. His main act though was in fact juggling but with a flamed stick, a machete and an apple.  It took him quite a long time to actually juggle as he was more interested in trying to get the crowd laughing. He finished his show so we put some money in his hat and we took our leave towards some more novelty shops. It was starting to get a bit tiring as the shops were selling the same items and clothes. I could see Sam was getting a bit tired too so we made the last couple of stops managing to get what we wanted before turning back around and heading back towards the hotel. 

Madame Tussaud Museum

On the way back we stumbled on a musical organ which was playing by itself. The last time I had seen this was at Beamish museum when I was a lot younger; still it was an amazing spectacle to witness. We continued on to head back to the hotel however, there was one more thing that caught our attention. It was a shop dedicated to video games, characters and heroes which sold a range of amazing clothing, snapback hats, belts and accessories. The characters were Super Mario related, Zelda, Call of duty, Looney tunes, Batman, Superman, Teenage mutant ninja turtles, Sonic the hedgehog and of course my all time favourite, Assassins creed. I was more gobsmacked and we spent quite a bit of time in here. Sam was enjoying it too but I felt like I overstayed my time as he finally dragged me out of the shop walking straight back to our hotel with myself trying to get back into the shop. 

Assassins Creed Merchandise

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles` Merchandise

We only spent about 5 minutes at the hotel as we were just dropping our shopping off so it was back out figuring out where to go next. I jokingly suggested more novelty shops but I think Sam would have thrown me in the canal. Anyway, what I actually suggested was to go looking to the North East area as that was the only part we hadn’t been too yet. So we began walking in that direction thanks to my compass. We came across a draw bridge with a picturesque view behind it so I thought it would be a good opportunity to have our picture taken together. Eventually we stopped someone passing by who managed to take a photo of us. We continued on thanking the gentleman and we ended up stopping off at a small pub nearby to have some drinks. 

Me and Sam

Yet again as we entered there was something beautifully different about the design of this place. We sat at the small bar and ordered our drinks. I decided to have something different than Heineken and go for my favourite Guinness. I wish I never bothered though as it tasted terrible but I kept drinking it. We were sitting talking and admiring the pub along with the bar maid until all of a sudden, a ginger cat appeared out of nowhere and started walking on the bar; I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then all of a sudden it jumped back up to the overhang above our heads; I guess we saw something new everyday and it was very funny. It was time to leave the bar making sure that the cat wouldn’t pounce on us and continued to walk to the North East. As we were walking it started to feel as though we stepped forward in time as the buildings around us began to look more modern and plain. However, there was one small old designed house which stood out and it was a small quaint café called ‘de Pluyswacht’ which had a beautiful view of one of Amsterdam’s canals, boats and church spire in the distance. As we stood right in front of the café, we couldn’t help but notice that it was slightly leaning to one side which was very good to witness. 

Quiet Canal
De Pluyswacht cafe

Our next stop was a fancy looking liquor shop for Sam. We walked in and we were welcomed by a warm room with the smell of sweet alcohol all around us. We had a bit of a browse before Sam left with a nice big bottle of Absinthe continuing on with our long walk. In the distance to the north, something large caught my eye. It was a very big and tall wooden galleon ship with the full works of rigging and sails. We were overwhelmed by the majestic sight of this so we had to take a closer look and see what it was all about. We figured out that it was part of the maritime museum so we headed towards the large scaled building at its right which looked like a white palace. 

Tall ship
Maritime Museum

We didn’t know if we had to pay for entry or not so we took the risk and entered the beautiful building. The first thing we caught sight of was its huge glass roof and design until we eventually started making our way around the interior edges of the building. We were amazed at the sight of very well designed naval ships with masts and ropes encased in glass casings. 

Naval Ship

Naval Ship

It was definitely a wonder to see as we continued to the next room where it was all about the humpback whale. After weaving around a maze like corridor, we entered a larger room with a huge sculpture of a plastic whales head and a fisherman with a spear trying to harpoon the whale which was very interesting. We could climb the stairs right next to the fisherman to see the whale from his perspective and when we entered through the whale’s mouth, we could look through its eye and see the fisherman from its perspective. As we entered deeper into the whale’s mouth, there was a room which showed us body parts of whales such as eyes, skin and organs all bizarre and interesting at the same time. 

Fisherman and Whale

Whale Specimens

We wandered on admiring the museum and we couldn’t help but notice that nobody was around which felt a bit creepy. A moment passed before one of the security guards came and asked us to leave as it was closing time of course. We were soon escorted out onto the street heading east and as I looked to my left, I noticed a huge old fashioned windmill which I wanted to see in Amsterdam so I was happy about that. We headed alongside the harbour towards a huge building called ‘Nemo’ right next to a long row of boats which looked really picturesque along with the galleon ship at the back. Sam and I were cooking up a plan to commandeer it and sail off but we chose not too and continued on. The next unique building we had seen was a beautiful and elaborate Chinese restaurant which looked like a large temple set on the water making it truly special to gaze upon.

Harbour Area

Harbour Area
Chinese Restaurant

We eventually crossed a bridge further down back onto the mainland heading south when we noticed a big church and for once the doors were open. It was ‘St Nicolaaskerk’ church and we both entered the building. We had to wait a moment though as there was a service finishing off but then we were invited in. The first thing that hit me was how much resemblance there was with this church and the ones I had witnessed in Rome. It was truly breathtaking admiring the vast area with paintings all around of Christ and the huge shining pipe organ behind us. We sat at the pews for a very long moment to rest and take in the art on the domes above us before having a moment to look around. There was also a very strong smell of candles as we wandered through the church but then we were told to leave as they were closing. 

St Nicolaaskerk Church
Pipe Organ

As we left it was getting a bit late and we were starving. So we headed south back to the main attraction of the red light district. It was surprisingly a short walk before we arrived and began looking for somewhere to eat. We found a place called the ‘baby grill’ which was a sort of Turkish diner so we sat down and glanced at the menu. I ordered a beef steak and chips and Sam ordered a mixed grill and chips. We passed the time by joking on about how Sam thought he was going to go on fire as soon as he stepped into the church moments ago. We also joked about the fact that on the menu there were the pictures of our food and at the top of each picture were a nicely layed out spread of salad with a strawberry at the centre. A long time passed before we got our food and yet again it looked nicer on the menu than what was put in front of us. I went for the steak first and it wasn’t the best; it felt like I was chewing on rubber as was Sam’s reaction to his plus there was no salad or strawberry with our food. But we somehow managed to get it down with straight faces. There was part of me wanting to complain but then I seen how miserable the chef looked, it was like they couldn’t give a damn so we took our leave. 

We wandered the district as though it became a tradition looking at the women and noticed how quiet it was there whereas during the day it was bustling in Amsterdam. It gave us more of a view without getting crowded around. We were both enjoying the attention we were getting from the women around us thinking that this wouldn’t happen back home unless we had money waving so we made the most of it before we suddenly became thirsty. We didn’t have much money left so we went into our favourite ‘Excalibur’ bar. Yet again we entered and were amazed with its décor and vibe. 

Excalibur Bar - Indian Motorbike
Bar Area
Sam and I

It was a bit quieter so we took our seats at the bar again having our drinks enjoying the atmosphere of the place and feeling relaxed listening to rock music whilst the bartender was beating away like a drummer on anything metal around him. A long time passed before we eventually took our leave with another picture together saying goodbye to this wonderful pub. We thought we would have one final lap at the windows before we finally took our leave back to the hotel. 

Red Light District

It was a nice quiet walk back and it was a better feeling finally lying on my bed after all the walking we did today. However instead of relaxing, I thought it would be a good idea to pack my bags so I wouldn’t have to rush around tomorrow like a mad man panicking. It was about 30-40 minutes later when my bags were finally packed and ready. I then drifted off to sleep at the sound of heavy rain and wind outside feeling nice and warm after another great day in Amsterdam.
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