Now it’s been almost two weeks since I actually made the trip I’m going to be talking about today. I should have been posting this blog last week Tuesday, or at least last week. But you know how it is, all kinds of distractions, some of which would be legitimate excuses whilst others not so much. I mean if I’m honest I’ve had plenty of time to sit down and write for a few hours. I think that is partly where it goes wrong though, I know that when I write my blog I can be sat there for hours on end, I know how much time goes into writing a post. The stupid thing is I enjoy writing it, so why in the world do I worry about how much time it’s going to take? Anyway it’s something I have to work on, in fact I might have to try a little something like: post at least one thing a day no matter what it is. But I can’t make any promises, I know myself too well for that.
I’m sorry I tend to ramble, let’s get back to the topic shall we…
It was Monday last week. The 25th of March to be exact. In fact now it’s a whole new month I’m writing this in. Tuttut. I was off to Amsterdam anyway, as I had bought concert tickets for Of Monsters and Men ageeess ago. And finally the day had come. I decided to make a day of it. Which, very much like me, ended up being ‘a half day of it’ because I am terrible at getting my bottom out of my bed. Which is something else I need to work on, although it is probably very much interrelated (with my lack of being able to sit down and write my blog) and could easily go by the name of: A HUMONGOUS LACK OF SELF DISCIPLINE! Oh yes… Amsterdam… First off I needed to find, somewhere, anywhere, where I could print the tickets for the concert, as I don’t have a printer at home. The first thing that came up in my head was the library, so I looked up where the library was and realised I’d been there before. I found my way there and I can tell you it has never taken me so long in my whole life to print something! First of all I had to figure out how to print. This didn’t take too long and I will not go into detail here as I don’t want to bore you. Now secondly I was apparently using someone else’s computer, well it was the library’s computer, but someone else was already using it. As there was no sign of anyone using it (no coat hung over chair, no sign saying computer in use, apart from the computer itself the workspace was completely empty) I had no idea. This guy came up and said “you’re using my computer!” he came over pretty angry and I was a bit surprised (having no clue that it was already in use). “Sorry, I didn’t realise someone was using it” I said. “Well, have you clicked my windows away?” He asked. I had, clicked a few windows away, something that looked like advertisements, something I thought must have accidentally been left on. “Well, I guess, yes, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise….” He looked at me as if I was stupid and then he replied angrily “You can use that computer there” and pointed to the one next to him. I apologised again, got up and went to the other side of the room. I felt really stupid! When really he was the one that was stupid, not making it obvious enough that the computer was in use. Unless there was a secret library computer use sign he’d left behind, there was absolutely no way I could have seen that he was using that computer! Anyway bygones be bygones I moved along, being glad I’m not the kind of person who gets angry or frustrated when someone makes a tiny little mistake… Next problem, the printer didn’t work, thankfully there was already a librarian trying to figure it out and after about fifteen minutes of her pressing random buttons on the printer and after restarting it several times in several different ways I left the building with the two concert tickets. Yeahhy!
Now ‘FINALLY’ you think. This blog is finally getting to the point. Amsterdam. Don’t worry from here on out no more libraries and other boring stuff. But a wonderful days of churches, churches and more churches. Four to be exact! If you count the fact that Paradiso (the music venue Of Monsters and Men were playing) used to be a church, a long long time ago. First up was the St Nicolaaskerk.
LP describes it as follows: “St Nicolaaskerk built in 1887, is the city’s main Catholic church.The impressive interior features black marble pillars and an ethereal blueish aura in the soaring dome. St Nicholas is the patron saint of seafarers, so the church became an important symbol for Amsterdam” I have to say I must have walked past the church millions of times and not even properly noticed it. Whilst you really can’t miss it. I didn’t taken many pictures inside as there were signs everywhere basically asking you not to take photos. As there were other people taking photos anyway I took a few, but nothing really interesting enough to post here. But I must say it is a pretty beautiful church on the inside. The glass work and the murals covering the walls. And of course the wonderful peace and quiet you can only find within a church (and some other religious buildings).
Around the corner from the church is the Schreierstoren, which you can also see on the photo above, but I’ll give you a better look here:
LP says “Where English captain Henry Hudson set sail to find a Northern passage to the east Indies (and ended up buying Manhattan instead).” This story is also told on the side of the building, which is now a café/restaurant. I will keep it in thought and maybe go back at some point to eat or have a drink or two there.
Next up was the Warmoesstraat which is the Western boundary of the famous Red Light District. LP on the Warmoesstraat: “Here rough-edged bars, hotels and sex-shops luridly rub shoulders with some great old architecture and cafés.” I would say this is a pretty good description, although the street is also filled with coffee shops and head shops, but mostly foodie places; restaurants, take-aways, burger bars etc.
LP: “East off Warmoesstraat is the city’s oldest surviving building (from 1306), the mighty Oude Kerk built to honour the city’s patron saint, St Nicholas (the inspiration for red-suited Saint Nick).”
So that was my next destination. Now I must say, it was pretty strange visiting a church located on the same square as some prostitute’s windows. Which is also something I have to get used to. It’s not the first time I’ve walked through the Red Light District, but these women half naked stood in windows looking out at you, I dunno, it’s weird, I don’t know where to look, or whether I should look or shouldn’t. and then when you do look, some of these women look at you in a really grumpy way. Or like you’re in their territory and they don’t want you there. I guess being a woman I am not their main clientèle and they probably see me as competition in some way or another. Oh but we were talking about churches, not prostitutes… The Oude Kerk is, like the Lonely Planet said, quite a spectacle, from the outside. And I just love the ‘golden torso’!
Now the inside, was a bit too spacious for me. When it comes to churches I like ‘gezellig’ (which could be described here as cosy, but there is no proper English translation for this word), smaller, warm and cosy. The Oude Kerk is so spacious, it feels empty, even though it’s not. The windows are beautiful and some of the other features like the chairs with funny carvings in them, but all in all it’s too grandiose for me. I would have liked to do the tower tour, but unfortunately it’s only held on Thursdays Fridays and Saturdays. There was a really cool art exhibition going on though and of course I made a photo of Saskia van Uylenburgh’s grave (which really is nothing very special).
The cool art exhibition:
Now I was really looking forward to this next church, as it is hidden in the attic of a house: Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Dear Lord in the Attic). Now the LP still calls this museum Museum Amstelkring, I’m guessing since the latest edition was published in 2010, the name has changed. Anyway this is what my trusted guide has to say: “…was a Catholic chapel set up c 1578 after the Calvinists seized power and outlawed other religions. Inside you’ll find […] a labyrinth of tiled staircases [and] cubbyhole quarters.”
Now one thing, they’re renovating. They’re actually planning to buy/or already have bought the building next door across the ally so there’ll be space for a proper entrance hall, a museum shop, a café and temporary exhibitions. I understood they’re going to connect the two buildings together somehow, I believe underground. Because they’re renovating most of the art as mentioned in the LP, has temporarily been taken away. But there was a very interesting listening guide which explained a lot about the building itself and the different rooms. I hope they keep the listening guide because it’s a lot better than walking round having to read tons of information. In some rooms it also had an extra option, if you wanted to hear more information you could press ‘b’. I thought this was really great as you can choose exactly how much information you want to hear. The house itself was lived in and there was kind of a secret stairway leading up to the chapel which the churchgoers used. The chapel itself was pretty incredible to see, you really don’t believe it until you actually see it. And then it’s there, in it’s very PINK glory! I jut love this idea of these people secretly climbing those stairs to practice their forbidden religion. Rebels! Wooo! Another part of the house was rented out to the pastor (I think that’s what you call him, or priest, I must say I’m not completely sure). The tour also led you through the renovations, so one of the rooms was full of woodworking tools, and the listening guide explained about what they were renovating and why. I really liked how they brought that into the tour. As I have now figured out how to make slideshows, another one will now follow :)
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder is definitely going to make my top visits list once I’ve finished my Amsterdam adventure. I would definitely recommend it, even if you usually don’t like churches, this place is worth a visit. I’m looking forward to what it will be like once they’ve finished renovating. I hope they keep the listening tour!
It was time to pick up my concert companion in Utrecht. Once back in Amsterdam we found somewhere to eat, nothing special though. We were on a pretty tight schedule before the concert started, so we ended up (after walking around for about an hour thanks to moi) in one of the touristy pizza places in one of the touristy restaurant streets. It was fine though, we shared a veggie pizza, which tasted great. But nothing wow! And then we were off to Paradiso.
Of Monsters and Men are one of my favourite bands at the moment and last year at Lowlands I heard them live, but didn’t actually see them. There was a heat wave and it was too hot to go inside the tent, so we just sat outside and listened. I was looking forward to see them live properly. Paradiso is one of my favourite venues in the Netherlands and perfect for them. It used to be a church like I mentioned earlier and it’s definitely the most beautiful music venue in the Netherlands. The support act was this funny guy who played a combination of blues, country, folk and even some metal. He basically just did whatever he felt like. It was very entertaining. Of Monsters and Men played very well, it was a great show. I enjoyed it, but I have to say I’m a bit spoilt when it comes to bands I’ve seen live. I missed that little bit of magic that makes a musical evening absolutely perfect. There was also not much interaction with the audience, which I don’t always mind, but when you already miss the magic you start to miss other things too. I think from working in a music venue and from seeing amazingly magical live acts like The Tallest Man on Earth, Band of Horses and Mumford and Sons, the ones that really give you goosebumps and make you cry, my bar is just set too high. They were great though, just not magical.
That was the last slideshow and also the end of my blog. I hope you enjoyed. Comments and tips are welcome. I do have one question for my readers: What do you think about the length of my posts. Also any tips for blogs I might be interested in, inspiring blogs, interesting blogs, anything you think I might like are very much welcome. So tip me here.
Thanks for reading!
References (I believe I should have been doing this from the beginning) and information: Lonely Planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/), St. Nicolaaskerk (http://www.nicolaas-parochie.nl/index.php?menu=2), Oude Kerk (http://www.oudekerk.nl/) , Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (http://www.opsolder.nl/) Of Monsters and Men (http://www.ofmonstersandmen.com/) and Paradiso (http://www.paradiso.nl/web/show).