The morning was bright and the we planning on exploring the Maritime Museum. But first, here’s a selection of The Cats of Amsterdam.
Evidence of the previous evening’s festivities appeared in the strangest locations, including floating down the canals… Don’t worry: she was rescued by an enterprising young man a short time later.
The museum is a massive, light grey building set directly on the water, a tiny little bridge spanning the water between land and the front door. While the outside made the building seem almost larger than life, this was easily justified by the massive open courtyard once inside the walls.
The museum was amazing in it’s technological displays. In one long room there was a glass-walled display full of authentic historical model boats. These were model boats from as far back as the 1600’s, some of them used by the family members, and some made as a model of an actual boat that had been already constructed. The best part about this exhibit was a sliding screen of information. Slide the screen in front of one of the models, push a button and suddenly the screen was full of information and photos. Slide the screen over a different boat and the relevant information was quickly updated.
The next room was full of original manuscripts and maps, and the room after that had rows of navigational equipment. A “book” was located at one end where a digital project was placed overhead. As I turned each page, it was detected by the projector and an animation was shown on the pages, with antique map illustrations and boats “sailing” through the waters, while journal entries were “penned” onto the page. I then turned the page and a new animation began.
Yet another room was full of classic overstuffed chairs set around low coffee tables. I sat down at a chair and picked up a book from the table. Speakers embedded in the chair suddenly began to narrate the pictures in the book in my lap. The narrator gave me the background to what I was seeing in front of me and made it an enjoyable way to understand the information presented. It was amazing how cramped some of the areas were, including the passengers quarters which was so low that I had to literally bend in half in order to move around inside. I can’t imagine spending a month or more on board!
Part of the museum entry included access to the “Amsterdam”, a replica of the three masted ship built for the Dutch East India Company but sank in 1749 in the English Channel. The entire ship was open for exploration, with displays and exhibits mostly for children, but informative for adults as well.
But Amsterdam had another surprise for us: informative manhole covers! There were six ancient-looking manhole covers in a gravel space and when Dan inadvertently stepped on one, it began to tell us a story.
We were hungry. We had seen what we wanted in the museum and decided to now search for lunch. We left the museum and headed east, towards a massive windmill we had caught a glimpse of earlier.
Step on the manhole cover and a narration begins!
Floating platform for a duck family
We traveled through some residential areas before finally reaching the windmill, and once there, we found quite a chaotic scene in the canal below it. There was a small jetty, one of the few that we’d seen, and boats were tied up to it, while other boats bobbed in the water, waiting their turn. As we watched, we realized the reason for this crowd: there was a gas station across the street. The boat occupants left their boats with jerry cans in hand, only to reappear some minutes later with them full of fresh fuel. Some people took a lot longer than others, leading to the back up on the water.
After watching the chaos for a little while, we walked along the canal that marked the city’s original defensive walls, looking for a restaurant to fill our empty bellies. That’s when Dan spied the Groene Olifant, a restaurant I had heard favorable reviews on. We took a seat outside and ordered a light lunch. The reviews were correct: it was a great place to eat.
After lunch we decided to visit the Houseboat Museum. It was on the other side of town, and closed in two hours, but we thought that it would be great to learn more about the boats that line the canals. We walked quickly across the town and found the Houseboat Museum – only to find that it was just a single houseboat! I’m sure that this would be interesting to someone who had never been on one, but considering that we were staying on one for four nights, we didn’t think that we could learn much by going through this one. Instead, we went to the Canal Museum (Museum Het Grachtenhuis), which was very interesting and made our rush across town worth while.
After dinner we weren’t sure what to do. It was late, we’d been walking for yet another entire day and the “Amsterdam night life” wasn’t our style. Instead, we went back to the magnificent Pathé Tuschinski theater to see a movie. We found our way back there only to find that none of the movies listed were ones that we were interested in seeing (or weren’t in English). Fortunately for us, we had passed a modern Pathé theater on our way and we returned that way to see what was on the menu. We found “Mad Max” in 3D and settled in for a relaxing evening.
Back to the Pathé