Tag Archive: Amsterdam



We covered a lot of museums in Amsterdam. Like 7! But only 1 museum in Brussels. Both cities proud of their Van Gogh and Magritte. One with a troubled Dutch mind who found expression in his art. Another who was quite happy with his life as artist, husband, leader and friend and expressed his joys in his art.

The Van Gogh collection is impressive. In his short life, Vincent was prolific, painting almost every single detail of his brief existence. With his numerous self-portraits, you can say he indulged in selfies. The dark rooms and galleries are intended to safeguard and protect his many artworks. The art world has Theo (Vincent’s brother) to thank for supporting Vincent throughout his turbulent moods and insecurities. This brother’s love is soooo moving, and one can understand how and why Theo passed nearly as soon as Vincent left. And just as touching was how Theo’s wife Jo made sure this Van Gogh collection found their way into our world today. Once more, the power of love made everything possible. How wonderful!

On the other hand, I find RenΓ© Magritte’s collections so well-curated in the museum in Brussels. For less than half the admission price of major museums in Amsterdam, the Magritte Museum is truly value for money. The museum is massive and the collections hung so impressively. Like a lot of thought went into planning how the artworks should be displayed. It is easy to spend a whole afternoon here, and even to “space out” to enjoy this master’s works. The crowds are mostly locals, like Belgian schoolchildren and young adults likely studying art here.

I know. You love Van Gogh. Can’t miss it in Amsterdam. But do visit Magritte Museum in Brussels too. Twice as big if not more than Vincent’s museum in Dutchland, and equally impressive.


The MOCO is one of 4 museums in Museumplein along with Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Stedeldijk Museums. Of these 4, we missed only the Rijks but didn’t skip on the Rembrandt Huis which was surprisingly entertaining and engaging. The interactive element of this museum visit wasn’t lost on us. But MOCO? It’s the tiniest of the 4 hardcore museums we visited but packed with the more popular mod art that includes collections of Banksy, Basquiat, Keith Haring, Warhol, Kaws, Icy & Sot, Yayoi Kusama and more. Well curated and very very entertaining, the MOCO won’t fail to engage a young crowd. Artworks on display bear statements on the artist and the philosophical messages, either perceived or articulated by the artists themselves. For sure, The MOCO has its own philosophy and that message rang throughout the tiny museum. Not imposing, neither conflicting, but quite tolerant and persuasive.

The MOCO

The younger generation seems to relate more with contemporary art and modern art. Perhaps because of the more relatable and provocative messages that their artworks convey. The pop culture is also very persuasive with rebellious advocacies and non-conformist and thought-inducing ideas. Banksy, Icy and Sot are geniuses more than vandals. Their street art have made them familiar with their local audiences across all ages and economic strata. And there’s that element of mystery and danger too as they ply their art under illegitimate circumstances and situations.

Viewing these artworks is like having a dialogue with these artists breaking out of some censorship and restrictions. Not quite the same as viewing the works of Renaissance masters. Both appeal to the senses, but in a different way. I’m rambling, but that’s my take on it. 😊

Take Kaws. This American ex-freelance artist used to do work for Disney as graphic illustrator and has successfully breached the gap between fine art and commerce. Imagine Mickey Mouse with X eyes. Familiarity with icons like the Mouse plus other brands made Brooklyn-based Kaws’ collectibles such a craze among art fans. A stroke of genius, really, where art crosses the line towards commerce.

Then there’s Basquiat. He and his powerful messages behind his art. Dead too soon such that the art world had to compete for the limited supply of his artworks. Potent expressions on the great divide between rich and poor, black and white, the powerful and the powerless. In his very short life, Basquiat’s not too subtle advocacies found such an effective expression in his art.

All told, MOCO is for everyone to enjoy. In fact, all 4 museums in Museumplein in Amsterdam deserves a visit, plus a separate trip to nearby Rembranthuis. In Amsterdam, that’s what you do!

A Heineken Experience


A Heineken Experience

How do you spend Mother’s Day with your 2 elves? We’ve booked a 2pm walking tour today and the sun promises to be out the entire day with temps high enough to keep us comfortably warm throughout the day. At the last minute, one of the elves booked a Heineken Experience — a beer museum to educate us on the origin and history of this Dutch beer. The ticket is actually more expensive than tickets to Van Gogh and other major museums but it comes with 3 beers! And NOT just your ordinary beer. This one’s just made and delivered 2 days prior so you can’t get it any fresher. 🍻

There were many fun things to do inside the original Heineken brewery. More fun as you say “Proost!” often enough while lifting your beer glasses. The crew here are all young and fun, like they’re all slightly tipsy and friendlier. What it may have lacked in “substance” (how much can you tell about beer, anyway?) , it made up for it in golden liquid experience. Proost!

By 2pm, the walking tour commenced. It grew warmer by now and the sun was beating on us. The history lessons were good but after Heineken, it was difficult to jam all that info in one’s head. Trivia running from the city’s architecture, trading/merchant history, drug issues, red light district, “unplanned” monarchy, gay movement, water/flood engineering, etc. — all these clouded my mind enough.

As we walked back to the Centraal Station for the trip back to our hotel, we decided we’d drop in on the Sex Museum. It’s there. No harm dropping in and costs only €9. Well, that’s money wasted though it drew laughs among us so the fun makes it worthwhile, I guess. Be warned though. No subtleties here. Kamasutra fanatics may welcome the gross installations but really, it’s money and time wasted.


JORDAAN. It’s very bohemian here. Very trendy. My kind of neighborhood. And my elves love it too! A great starter for this trip, despite the first and hopefully the only boo-boo I made. Thought we’d arrive the next day but whoa, it was the same-day (of departure) late evening arrival for us in Amsterdam. Made last-minute booking and Day 1 went smoothly as we woke up bright and cheery in our hotel beside the train station just 2 stops from Schipol.

My 2 “elves” hitting this hip neighborhood.
Jordaan and its narrow canals and streets.

Brunch was in Joordan at Espressobar Tazzina after a visit of Noordermarkt. We didn’t want to miss this mercado because it’s open only on Saturdays and Mondays. Neither did we miss Bloemenmarkt to check out the “floating” flower market. The morning nourishment continues at Pancake Amsterdam near Anne Frank Huis. But we didn’t go there; instead we went to OUR HOUSE, a Museum of Electronic Dance Music. Really a techno music museum that’s a haven for DJ wannabes. Honestly didn’t think I’d find myself here but hey, I actually enjoyed it to a point where I may have embarrassed the young adults with me. 🀣 Amazing how technology has changed the music world and how the shift has focused towards world-famous DJs who rocked the club scene. Everything was completely relatable for people across generations — like how I came to reminisce over dance clubs where the tempo is dictated by the choice of danceable music mixed by creative deejays.

Noordermarkt where you’d find organic produce, along with antiques, vintage clothes and jewelry!
M playing like a real DJ!
Espressobar Tazzina where we preferred to sit by the window looking out onto the busy, vibrant street scene.

By mid afternoon, we found ourselves in Rembrandt House. This interactive museum showed us how the Dutch Master lived, painted, prospered, taught and welcomed friends in his lovely home. The house sits at a corner near the canal and each of the rooms — from the reception area to the large studio and meeting/negotiation room paints a dimension of Rembrandt as a painter, art trader, loving husband and friend. In particular, we loved the room where one is invited to sit and do sketches. A wonderful and meaningful way to spend at least a quarter to half hour in this house. Of course, one can take home his own sketches.

Into Visual Art and Audio Art
Rembrandt House

By the time we returned to our hotel, we were dead tired. Joordan, OUR HOUSE, Noordermkt, Bloemenmarkt, Rembrandt House — all compose a fine Day 1 spent in Amsterdam.

Traveling With These Two
Bloemenmarkt

It’s been 9 weeks. And before then, around 4 weeks of clinic visits and lab procedures. I haven’t had 13 slow and easy weeks in the last few years. A quick check of my busy travel calendar the last few years confirm this. And you know what? If you’ve been under “house arrest” for a considerable time, the first day out heightens all your senses to appreciate the air you breathe, the noise you hear or perhaps the lack of it, the temps that make you sweat or the breeze that cools your skin. The Harbour Square within the CCP Complex is a favorite spot within the metropolis. Antipolo too but it’s too far out and the traffic going there is near-unbearable. So between the waters and the mountains, I longed to instead count the yachts bobbing up and down in the bay.

There are still a few days before the year is over but Bali was def the last trip in 2019. Thoroughly enjoyed with the family despite the intermittent chest pains, which I assumed must have been acid reflux. My guardian angels must have worked overtime to bring me home safely and guided a family doctor to remind me to see my cardiologist instead of a gastro-enterologist. I did, and then had medical attention in the nick of time. After more tests pre- and post-stenting, my cardiologist declared I’m good to travel again. Yey! Two trips lined up for next year, and now working on a possible 3rd and 4th. I am so happy. And thankful for the trips made in the year 2019 without mishap. I still cringe at the thought that any one of these trips could have turned really nasty. I am thankful as I remember.

Same group on 2 separate trips to Brunei and Malaysia

Ticked off a few squad goals including this Hokkaido in Winter!

A third of the fambam in London.

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/21/touchdown-london/

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/23/one-in-a-million-stonehenge/

Cardiff Castle in Wales

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/24/from-london-to-london-2019/

Amsterdam, Volendam, Marken, Giethorn , Zaans Schans, Delfth and The Hague

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/25/its-been-awhile-amsterdam/

Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/01/touchdown-brussels/

The Cotswolds

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/16/the-cotswolds/

Off to Graz, Ljubljana, Trieste and Istrian Peninsula (Croatia

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/08/18/road-trip-through-austria-slovenia-italy-croatia/

A family trip to Bali, Indonesia

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/09/05/bali-highs-πŸ’•πŸ–πŸ˜πŸŽΆπŸ§œπŸ»

So what’s in the drawing boards this coming 2020? Well, there’s a booked Nile cruise in Egypt, and the South American adventure should soon be firmed up, plus there’s that wedding later in the year in Barcelona. Same travel buddies…. unless of course we start growing tired of each other πŸ™„. We have yet to plan for that trip to Europe with my soon-to-graduate #aponimamu. And another adventure with my soon-to-retire dear friends. We’ll see. Meanwhile, let’s have a truly Merry Christmas in our hearts and a Prosperous, Harmonious New Year ahead.


My last visit was in 2003 but that was on official business so it shouldn’t count. In 1986 and 2000, I was there. First as a student, the next as a tourist. Most things remained the same, but for the price of West End tickets. As a newbie watching musicals for the first time, I was very lucky to be there when Les Miserables first showed some 3 months before my arrival in 1986. With my student discount, it was a steal watching it and quite frankly, I was beyond awed. I’ve never seen the likes of it till then. I’ve watched it several times since, both in West End and Broadway, and even back in my home country. This Cameron Mackintosh was my new hero. Fast forward 2019. Ticket prices have spiralled. Lowest-priced musicals still hovered from Β£30 upwards. Some at Β£200 and up. And I mean really upwards. If you’re aiming to watch only one or 2, sure you can splurge. But not if you’re meaning to watch more. And so, rather than stay longer in London, we moved to stay nearly a week in Amsterdam and then another week in Brussels before heading back to London and onwards for 8 nights in Bath and The Cotswolds. We made many day trips from our chosen city base using trains, buses and vans. This is our Trip Summary from May 19 to June 12, 2019.

London

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/21/touchdown-london/

London

Day Trip from London: Stonehenge

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/23/one-in-a-million-stonehenge/

Amsterdam

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/25/its-been-awhile-amsterdam/

DayTrips from Amsterdam

Giethorn

Zaanse Schans

Volendam & Marken

Delft & The Hague

Brussels

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/01/touchdown-brussels/

Day Trips from Brussels

Bruges

Ghent

Antwerp

Back to UK

Bath

The Cotswolds

Day Trip to Cardiff, Wales


Say that again….. Giethorn or Giethoorn. Either way, you pronounce the “o” or “oo” like a single “o” as in horn. But roll your “r” and have an imaginary “e” between r and n. Got it? Oh, never mind. North of Amsterdam is this water village popularly called “Venice of the North”. Don’t ask me why but I do think Giethoorn’s beauty is so different from Venice and it won’t be fair to compare the two. With its centuries-old thatched-roof houses lining the canals, its charm can be appreciated from a boat or by walking its many footpaths and bicycle paths. It is worth the 2-hour trip from the capital, for sure.

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn

There is a Museum and art galleries and curio shops abound. Plus you’d love the quaint coffee shops, aromatic cheese shops and dining areas where we partook of a delectable steak and some fish with chips and garden salad. Fortified with a good meal, we had the energy to walk around the village, crossing many tiny bridges and even checking out the gelato bars. All that time, the waterways were filled with boats, some manned/rowed by tourists who likely held an oar for the first time in their lives. I have to give credit to the professional boat men who never lost their cool while watching them amateurs navigate the canals, bumping left side, right side and rowing in a circle!

The Village Of Giethoorn

I’m told the waterways aren’t that deep. Was actually thinking how many bikes (and bikers) may have lost their balance and dropped/slid to the waters. I’m also curious how the residents can put up with a village teeming with boatfuls of visitors, some too curious nosy to actually step on a private garden just for one damn instagram shot. We went on a weekday and can just imagine the crowds and the noise on weekends in this car-Free village lying in the northeastern Dutch province of Overijssel. I can’t even imagine how crowded those tiny, narrow 170 bridges could be while punters carrying nosy and noisy tourists pass under.

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn

Most tourists who rode the boats took time to walk around the water village, the church, cheese shops and ice cream bars. The narrow bridges make for “friendly encounters” especially when you cross paths many times. I’ve also met many dogs πŸ• who seem to enjoy seeing the colourful boats plying the canals. By the 3rd time you cross paths with someone, you’ve grown “close” . πŸ˜‚ If I were to head back here, I’d likely go much earlier in the morning or much later in the afternoon when the crowds have gone or haven’t arrived. It must be quite an idyllic experience to take one of those small boats called punters or to simply walk around crossing as many of the 170 wooden bridges connecting the tiny islands. Yes, that’s what I’d do. Nonetheless, it is still a wonderful experience. Let me just say I can do with less noise.

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn


The first time I (solo) visited Amsterdam was in 1986. I couldn’t get Keukenhof out of my mind then. The next one was in 2000. Quite a long time till this visit. We snagged a free walking tour of the City, a (first) lunch in a pancake house before visiting the Anne Frank House, a 2nd lunch in that Bohemian Jordaan neighbourhood and finally a quick visit of the Red Light District.

This tiny country packs a lot. This time, I won’t miss the chance to do more day trips in the next 6 days out of Amsterdam. There’s Giethorn, Delft, The Hague, Leiden, Haarlem, Volendam (this one I visited in ’86) and many more. Never realised how easy this was to do with each out-of-the-city site a mere half-hour to 2 hours max away. The train and bus systems work, and there are plenty of things to do even within the city. The museum and art scene is very vibrant. Think Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Bosch. And the coffee and bar culture? We even found a tiny church converted into a bar complete with a pulpit, a cross on the panelled wall and some Turkish lamps! No wonder there are sooo many tourists especially at this time of the year. There’s always something for the art and culture geek, for the camwhoring tourists, the gay lovers (the first gay marriage was legitimised here), and yes, there’s the “sex and drugs” scene. Weather was a very pleasant 17-20C — perfect weather for walking.

There’s something about (clean) canals that fascinate us. Like Venice. But unlike Venice, the bridges crossing the canals are wider here, and not as easy to get lost πŸ™„. I could have skipped the Red Light District but we have a couple of first-timers in our group of 6, so we went. Our 24-hour travel pass was put to good use. More so since we chose a hotel outside the city center but just a mere 1-3 stops away via the bus or train station right next to our hotel.

It was a good first whole day in this city. Since we were blessed with good weather, we thought the museums can wait. Walking around and day trips to outside towns and big cities are the order of the day. Watch this page!