13 March 2008

jordaan tour

today scott and i had an appointment at the town hall in order to register with the city of diemen. the appointment was at 9;30 am, so we set off a little before 9 since it was a little over a mile walk from out flat and we weren't exactly sure where it was. the appointment itself was pretty painless...just one more in a long list bureaucratic hoops. the duch love red tape, i think they may have invented it, or at least perfected it.

after we registered i hopped on the train with scott to do some more city exploring. it was nice to be up and out early....i was excited that i had the whole day in front of me.

i set out into amsterdam with one thing on my mind...the jordaan. the jordaan is an area in amsterdam which was formally home to the poor artists and workers of the area. it is now, in my opinion, the quaintest district with the prettiest canal views, and the best shops and cafes.

because it was so early when i got to the city, nothing was open yet. i had forgotten that i was in amsterdam, and people like to sleep here! ;-) so...i headed down haarlemmerstraat from centraal on my way into the jordaan. it turned out that haarlemmerstraat was a fabulous street full of interesting and fun shops, cafes, and restaurants. none of the shops were going to be open for at least another 30 minutes, so i stopped into a cafe for a coffee and to read my new bible...rick steves amsterdam, brussels and bruge 2008. ;-) the place was called stout! and it was another one of amsterdams chic spots. btw, stout means "dirty" in dutch!

i love this place (amsterdam)! i loved sitting at stout!, having a couple cups of coffee (ALWAYS served in a cup with a saucer, a little creamer, a sugar packet, and a tiny cookie of some sort. perfect.), reading my book, maybe having a smoke, and watching out the window. as i sat there, i watched the two waiters put together the most enormous and most beautiful vase of tulips i have ever seen. they added branches to it somehow and it was spectacular...i wish i had had my camera! it's amazing that an entire city, an entire country, values flowers enough to put something like that together, at even the smallest of places.

one of my favorite shops from the morning was &k, who had these little lanterns (6.95!), as well as the most colorful kitchenware and gifts. i am inspired by the colors offered in this city...and to think, i used to only love white and cream!!

i also loved het grote avontuur, which was right across the street from &k, and was full of wonderful furniture, glassware, lamps, and paper products...look at that color! i have never seen a store with more unique items from all over the world.

i found amsterdam's smallest art gallery and bought a darling original piece of a yellow tulip with a purple background for only 10 euros! my first original artwork in amsterdam...hopefully the first of many to come! i also ventured into the amsterdam tulip museum. when you walk in, it just looks like a gift shop, but there is a museum downstairs. from the brochure...

the story of holland's most famous flower

"experience the history of the tulip, from its origin on the windswept mountains in central asia to the worldwide phenomenon it is today. greed, desire, anguish, and dedication all played their part in the development of the tulip. from a place of honour in the gardens of the sultans in istanbul the tulip because the object of unprecedented speculation in 17th century holland. it was the period known as tulipmania, when the tulip bulbs changed hands for the price of a house, leading eventually to a disastrous financial collapse. after this period the cultivation of tulips did not stop. on the contrary, stripped of all its excessiveness, the tulip trade now developed into a normal business."

i have to admitt, those, the gift shop was my favorite part...one of the best i've seen, full of gorgeous (reproductions of) prints for really reasonable prices, as well as beautiful bulbs for sale.

i was going to try to stay downtown all day and meet scott so that we could ride home together, but by 4 or so i was beat! so many things to see, and all of them so new! my cheeks hurt from smiling and my neck is sore from looking up!

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