James (namelessnobody) wrote,

Day 6: Amsterdam

Rain, like prostitution and drugs, runs rampant in Amsterdam. We were spared somewhat over our first two days here, by having showers rather than a steady flow, but today we have no such luck. The day is spent dashing from shelter to shelter to get to our sites of interest and is started with a steaming appelflap for each of us to warm our stomachs. We manage to see:

i) Anne Frank’s House, where hundreds of tourists clamour through cramped and sometimes claustrophobic rooms to view memorabilia, placards explaining the layout of the building, and the occasional video describing Anne’s time spent there. I don’t find the place overwhelming, though; there are too many people crowding the rooms and chatting amongst themselves to give that emotional sucker punch I’m hoping for. Still, it’s to be expected, what with the popularity of the shrine.

ii) Rembrandt’s House, an interesting stop, more so, strangely, for the house itself than for its most famous inhabitants. It’s a magnificent and lavishly decorated domicile that ultimately sent Rembrandt into debt, forcing him to sell his impressive collection of esoterica that has since been meticulously recreated by the museum.

iii) The Sex Museum, for which no details need be provided here (I’ll leave them to your imagination). In general, though, a thorough and unabashed portrayal of porn through the ages. Very interesting and impressive, and tended by a kindly old gentleman who waves with pride at you as you leave!

iv) The Rijksmuseum; there’s not nearly enough time before closing for us to see the entire museum, even with a briskly-paced walk through its many halls. We’re forced to stick to the central gallery containing Flemish art, highlighted by Rembrandt’s enormous masterpiece, The Night Watch, as well as a few side galleries. Oddly, half our time is spent in the lobby deciphering the giant wall of stained glass overlooking the gift shop! But from what we’re able to see, it’s obvious that a further trip will have to include a more complete tour of the museum.

The most interesting sight on our trip to the latter museum: several walk-downs lining the roads of the downtown area, that we first mistook for openings to pedestrian tunnels under busy streets, but which turn out (we think) to be open urinals, in frequent use by the locals. Is this common to other cities in the Netherlands (or Europe, for that matter)? Or a peculiarity of Amsterdam? The question remains unanswered.

[Edit: After scouring the Internet for some mention of these public toilets and finding no mention whatsoever, I’m left to wonder whether they are, in fact, pissoirs at all. Which leaves me wondering what their real purpose might be, and why did we keep seeing men peeing in them?]

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