Alicia’s Lonely Planet Challenge – Amsterdam Part 6

Soooooo, this post is late, very late, but I’m going to go and put it all out there anyway.

Two weeks ago Friday I left glorious Tilburg for a day in Amsterdam. I had some unfinished business around the Waterloopplein area and from there I’d decided to head into the Plantage district as that was closer by than the Jordaan region, which would have been next if I was sticking to the exact order of the book. As I am trying to let go of doing things in the precise order of the book this was very good for me. I shall be saving the Jordaan for next time.

Our first stop was the Zuiderkerk, which I ended up not being able to go inside. They had tower tours at certain times throughout the day but as the last trip I’d made (to Den Bosch) also included a tower tour I decided to skip that for now. Maybe I will go back and do it some day.

Next up was the Portugese-Israelite Synagogue. Before that I wanted to take a quick look at Tunfun , which is “a kids playground built in an old underpass” according to LP. I was very curious, so I asked the lady selling tickets if I could just go in and have a quick look. It was so cool! I wished I was a kid again. It’s literally what the Lonely Planet says it is. I would have absolutely adored this place as a child. It’s pretty fascinating, it’s filled with a big indoor play area with ball pools, slides, climbing things and the like. Now I just wish I had kids and so I could take them there.

The Portugese-Isralite Synagogue is connected to the Jewish Historical Museum, which I visited briefly during my last Amsterdam trip (Part 5). There’s a special discount ticket if you want to visit both. The Synagogue has a free listening tour you can pick up at the entrance. The tour is very flexible, you can either just listen to the basics or go for the extra listening options which make it very extensive. It basically leads you through the synagogue and it’s surrounding buildings. there are lots of listening points and I enthusiastically started off listening to everything, which ended up being an information overload, so I ended the tour just listening to the basics. It’s a good concept and if you want to you can learn an awful lot about the Jewish religion and culture and more specifically the Portugese Jewish culture in Amsterdam. If you choose to do both the synagogue and the museum I would recommend spreading them out over your time in Amsterdam, as the tour in the museum is similar and your brain might end up crashing from all the new data. The ticket is valid for a month so if you’re there for a week go on separate days. If you do want to do them both in one day, make sure you take an extended lunch break in between.

From all the hard work listening I was pretty hungry so my next mission was somewhere to eat. The place I had planned ended up being an ‘evening meal’ restaurant, it wasn’t open. I say evening meal, because if I said tea, which is the word I use for evening meal, most of you fine people would have probably thought I mean the drinking kind of tea. It’s a difficult thing this evening meal, depending where you’re from there are many names to call it by. Tea, dinner, tea, supper, tea… I’m sorry, I’m drifting… Not wanting to be too have to walk too far I went for a place close by, which wasn’t in the LP. I am still going to review it though.

I can’t remember the name of the place. I have a photo of it on my phone, but the name is unreadable, this because of the font, not the size. Anyway this café is actually also in Utrecht (which is like a home away from home, for one thing it’s where I went to college/will be going to uni and secondly it’s where we used to go and stay with the Dadman when he came to visit us in the Netherlands). I actually had a conversation with a couple of friends about the unreadability of the name of the café, whilst sitting at another café on the other side of the road (this in Utrecht). So I don’t know what it’s called, for now. *Update: It’s called Orlof, so there you have it* Anyway I ordered a humus & roasted veggies sandwich. I was so happy! Finally a humus without chilli! It was scrummy and it filled my tummy.

After lunch I went to the Hortus Botanicus (which is botanic gardens in Latin, I think). It was nice just to walk round this peaceful, beautiful garden. I liked looking at the strange plants and the plants with nice flowers. There are five or six greenhouses ranging from small to big. One of them contains butterflies and moths, now I like butterflies, but I have a bit of a phobia to moths. I would show you why, but I would have to film myself and I’m not sure I’m ready to embarrass myself on here yet. I am very good at showing people the difference between a butterfly and a moth though. Thankfully, the moths in there weren’t very active, so I managed to survive without ending up being the laughing stock of the greenhouse. I mean whose scared of moths??? It’s stupid, I’m the girl who makes fun of other people being scared of spiders, bees, snakes, cockroaches and the like, but I’m scared of moths…. There is a story, but then I would be drifting again… There were some more greenhouses, they were very hot and it was a hot day too, so it was a bit overwhelming. One of them had all kinds of cacti and another one had all kinds of tropical plants but also an interesting art collection. The last greenhouse was too much for me, so I don’t really know what was in there. I ended up on the garden’s café’s terrace. Wow! So the garden has a café and the café has a terrace, which I sat at. Just in case you didn’t get that. I wanted the raspberry cheesecake, but it was all gone and so was my second choice, so I just enjoyed my Coca Cola (this is not an advertisement, just a preference).

The day was almost over and I had one more wish on my list of things to do that day. The Gassan Diamond Tour, which is free. Now I’m going to come straight out and say I wouldn’t recommend this tour. In fact I ended up sneaking out of the tour and leaving. As great as I think it is, a FREE tour, but, well… First off I signed up at the reception for the tour. The lady said I could join a group in a bit. After about 20 minutes waiting, seeing different groups go in with tour guides and asking twice which group I should join, I was finally allowed in… Wait for it…. With a group of forty something other people…. TOTAL CHAOS! I have no other way to describe what went on in the humongous Gassan Diamond building that day and probably every other day of the week… Not just our tour group of MORE THAN FORTY people, but about three other tour groups of mixed sizes were all led into one (yes rather big, but it was no stadium) room. Then the tour guides, each speaking different languages had to take turns to tell their tour group some stuff, which might have been interesting (I don’t know, I couldn’t hear very well or concentrate very well on hearing), about diamonds and making diamonds. Yes we watched some people making diamonds, but the diamonds were so tiny that if I’m completely honest I didn’t really see that much. When we were being led to our next destination, a tiny room, FORTY PLUS PEOPLE, I decided to leave the chaos behind and go to Marks & Spencer to buy some cheese. And crumpets, but they were sold out, sniff sniff… I’ve seriously been craving crumpets for weeks now! :(

I didn’t eat my evening meal in Amsterdam as I’d made plans to have dinner  in Abcoude. It was a wonderful evening and a very nice end to another satisfying day in Amsterdam.

Looking forward to next time, the Jordaan….

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