Amsterdam: The Van Gogh Museum & The Diamond Museum

Our trip began with our first flight since we arrived in 2012. While waiting for our flight, we encountered an American and her friend from Isreal. This American was studying abroad in Prague from New Jersey for four months. She spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out if she had taken a half of a sleeping pill or a full sleeping pill and told me a very uninteresting story about falling asleep on a bus to Poland.

After we took a seemingly long train from the airport to the main train station, we took a tram close to the apartment where we were staying. Pictured below is the street our apartment was on. It was just down the street from a beautiful, beautiful grocery store. This amazing place had actual good-looking seafood, giant blocks of cheese (as in, giant chunks from giant cheese wheels), apple juice in those amazing little juice boxes, hummus (SO much hummus), cream cheese in giant containers, and frozen foods (like those frozen bags of veggies and meat that you can just throw in a pan and heat up in a few minutes). Apparently, we were missing a LOT more than I realized.

And after raiding this grocery store and eating at a random Mexican restaurant, we made our way back to the apartment and went to sleep.
_DSC0004The next morning we woke up early and started walking through the city to the Van Gogh Museum. As we had purchased the Iamsterdam card (a combined museum and transportation pass) before we left for the trip, we decided to make the most of it by visiting as many museums as possible.
_DSC0017_DSC0031The Van Gogh Museum is in the left of the photo below and it’s about half-way down the street. As Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists, I was slightly disappointed overall (but only slightly). The museum was very creative in displaying interesting facts about the tools, techniques, and styles Van Gogh learned over time. There were different easels, painting trays, perspective tools, and more. There was even two of Van Gogh’s paintings displayed so that you could see the front and back, as Van Gogh would often flip over his canvas and paint or sketch on the backs of completed ones. The reason for my slight disappointment was that Van Gogh’s sunflower painting is currently on loan to a museum in the UK until the end of April. There was also no Starry Night on display as it is currently at MoMa in New York.
_DSC0044After this, we made our way to the Diamond Museum just down the street. With four interconnecting buildings, we were able to see a general history of diamonds (how they are found, how they gained popularity, the many different uses for them) as well as many typical and unusual setting for diamonds. Everything from the typical royal jewelry to a gorilla skull covered entirely in diamonds.
_DSC0048We also had the pleasure of viewing the process that diamonds go through to become what we normally see in jewelry stores and we saw many of the diamonds up close, learning their monetary values. We toured with a lovely group. There were two families in the group with us: one Australian family (fairly quiet) and one American family (fairly loud and hilarious).

At one point, the tour guide (if that’s what you can call her) pulled out a 5 carat diamond (worth over 500 million US dollars) and plopped it on the top of her hand between two fingers. What did the Americans say, you ask?
“I could ice skate on that baby.”
“Doesn’t matter who he is, I say I do I do I do.”
Interestingly enough, she also pulled out a 5 carat black diamond and it’s worth was only 4,000 Euros. The Americans didn’t want to ice skate on that one. Although they did get very excited when the tour guide pulled out all of the pretty rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings for everyone to try on. Yes, the door was locked (it felt like we were in a vault).
_DSC0054After the Diamond Museum, we wandered a bit around town and stumbled on to a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream store. Yes, it was 10 in the morning. Yes, I did get a double chocolate brownie scoop in a waffle cone. We continued walking through the streets and passed a Pancake Corner which apparently doubled as a Sports Bar. One guy tried to convince us to come in by saying, “Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.” While I appreciated his enthusiasm for my breakfast habits, the flyer he handed me looked like an advertisement for Hooters.
_DSC0075 _DSC0089Just after we passed that guy, someone in front of an Argentinian Steakhouse stopped us and pointed out that it was actually half and half – the other half being an Italian restaurant.
“So, he could have a steak. And you could have some nice pizza.” As it was 10 in the morning, we turned to walk away. I had my camera over my shoulder (a Nikon D90) and he noticed it (Mom – no, we were not mugged).
“Nice camera. Auto or Manual?” As in, was I shooting in a Manual or Automatic mode.
“Manual.”
“Respect.” And then he gave me a high five. After this, he continued to talk about his Nikon D7000 and how he had just taken this cool photo down by the canal the other day of the buildings reflected in the water and some birds were flying over just then and then he flipped the photo upside down so it looked like you were in the water… and I know for a fact that he would have continued talking for another ten minutes if another nice couple hadn’t come up and peered at his menu. He quickly ran away to coerce them into eating at his restaurant.
_DSC0095 _DSC0103 _DSC0118 _DSC0131More to come soon!

 

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