My third day in Amsterdam started off leisurely. Al had a meeting, so Cath I rode there with him and whilst we waited for him we indulged in a spot of shopping and a delectable apple tart.
In the area I saw this fantastic shop door:
Then we rode the bikes to Dam Square to visit the Van Gogh Museum. It's not a terribly large gallery/museum, I was through in about 1.5 hours, but a brilliantly put together one. A lot of his major works (although, sadly no Starry Night), background and even a vase he owned and that he painted a few times. I was very surprised to find out that he was only an 'active artist' for about 10 years. Obviously I couldn't take photos in there, but if you're interested, here is some background. A must-see if you're in Amsterdam.
Next I walked over to the adjacent Rijksmuseum. It's in the middle of renovations, so a lot of it is closed, but still definitely worth a look for "The Masterpieces" exhibition. You can check those out here. Click on the links at the bottom of the page so see 360 quicktime files of the exhibition rooms.Very nifty! Studying art theory at uni, I never really got into the Renaissance, but if super-impressive to see a Rembrandt or Vermeer up close and personal. To stand in front of it and see the brush strokes is amazing - these guys were truly masters at capturing light. Other than Rembrandt and Vemeer there was a beautiful collection of silver ware, Delft ware, and this completely amazing doll house. You must look at the large image of this, it's a replica of this woman's house - original materials, so all the silverware is ACTUAL tiny silverware, actual ceramics, imported fabrics and the like. Amazing stuff. Also a must-see if you're in Amsterdam.
Oh, found a in-depth presentation of this exhibition.
After the museum shut I went outside to a biggish square where the letters "I amsterdam" are a popular motif for tourists.
After I spent enough time photographing strangers I cycled into the Red Light District. Although considered a must-see by many this was actually my least favourite aspect of Amsterdam - I only stayed for about half an hour. It's quite a grotty area, and there were loads of inebriated (sometimes scary-looking) dudes around. Granted, there were also many tourists like me who just wanted to see what the fuss is about, but there were definitely some dodgy types hanging around there. I also witnessed a guy trying to bargain a cheaper price with one of the prostitutes/strippers (?? not sure what her particular business model was, and didn't hang around to find out). Although I'm sure it's a well-regulated industry with some kind of protections for the workers, the window displays of the girls just offended my feminist sensibilities on the whole.
I was glad to unlock my bike and ride out of there. :) For dinner the 3 of us went to a cute little Mexican restaurant with really fun decor - Mexican wrestling-themed. Enjoy: