Friday, April 15, 2016

Amsterdam on the Level, part 1

You would think that a small country like the Netherlands which is either at sea level or below would be heaven for Levelers. It is, outdoors.

Inside, well, consider this. The Dutch ruled the seas and trade in the 16th and 17th centuries, creating untold wealth. All the money and dikes in the world could create only so much land, though. Space was extremely limited; houses were narrow and went up, three, four, five stories high with the least possible area sacrificed to stairways.

The result in Amsterdam is a city Levelers find enjoyable to walk with buildings that can present major challenges.

Tip: Make sure your accommodations come with elevators. Some of the smaller, less expensive ones don't.

Fortunately, the Dutch have made many activities, larger museums and public buildings accessible.

I recently spent several days checking out those facilities including some of the smaller museums that are well worth your time.

Canal tours. Easily accessed; an easy step onto the boat, a few small steps down. By all means take one.

Rijksmuseum. A don't miss and after several years of work in updating the facility it gleams. Always, always, get your tickets in advance, before you leave the States, and arrive early. It opens at 9 a.m. on the dot.

Follow the bicyclists through the portico; the entrance, a revolving door, is on your left.

Tip: There are 21 steps down to the 0 level of the Grand Hall, where you must start, but there is an elevator to the right of the ground level entrance.

0 Level information desk, Rijksmuseum.
When you reach 0 level you will see an information desk ahead of you. Bathrooms, coat check and cafe are accessed from here. The attendant who scans your ticket is across to the left, elevator to the upper levels to the right beyond him. Exhibit wings surround the Grand Hall space.

I always recommend starting on the top floor and working down to avoid the crowds. You will be working from the most recent works on display to the oldest.

The Vermeers come first, then the Rembrandts.
Tip: Elevators will be in the middle hallway. Rembrandts and Vermeers are on Level 2. From Level 0 the gift shop is 12 steps down, another set go to the children's shop. Lockers are six steps down, bathrooms four from there. The Cafe is up but there is an elevator.

Watch a period fashion show at the "Catwalk" exhibit.
If you will be in Amsterdam before May 19, 2016, I strongly recommend the "Catwalk" exhibit on Level 2. Designed by Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf, it highlights items from the museum's extensive costume and fashion collections, which most of us never knew it had. Highlight was the catwalk portion, a recreated fashion show with rows of chairs on either side of a conveyor that slowly and elegantly circulated mannequins attired in superb 19th and 20th century fashions. Great fun and a good break for the feet.

Across from the Rijks on the Museumpleine, you will find the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum for modern and contemporary art.

Crowds are a problem outside and inside the Van Gogh Museum.
Getting into the Van Gogh Museum will be your biggest and most annoying challenge. Even with an advance ticket there were long lines "Disneyd" along stanchions when I arrived 5 minutes after it opened. The museum simply is not designed to accommodate the crowds trying to enter.

All I can recommend is get that ticket in advance and arrive before opening.
When you get in, go to the top and work your way down from Van Gogh's last work to his first, trying not to succumb to claustrophobia.

Tip: Fortunately, there are escalators down to shop, coat check and bathrooms and elevators to the upper floors.

 If you arrive before June 19, 2016, another strong recommendation is to stop by the special exhibit "Easy 'Virtue" before you leave. It is a rarely done look at the Belle Epoche's ladies of the evening as portrayed by first tier artists such as Toulouse Lautrec, Courbet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Kees van Dongen.

A Chagall fan at the Stedelijk.
Stedelijk Museum won't be everyone's cup of tea but I found the fabric designs by Picasso, paintings of Appel, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Redon, Cezanne and Chagall, as well as the design work on everything from Apple computers to chairs and lighting worth the time and effort.

Give it a try.

Micropia is the only museum about microbes in the world. Besides being unique, it is a lot of fun. Who knew what different microbes look like or that the microbes that eats your tooth enamel are killed by the exoskeletons of microbes in your toothpaste? That we share microbes with our pets? Fascinating stuff, really.
Who knew microbes were this colorful?

Warning: You will be ushered up in an elevator, but will have to either walk down the stairs to leave or ask an attendant to go downstairs, bring the elevator back up and let you use it to go back down. Something about programming.
How many microbes are you carrying around and what do they look like?


Unknown said...

thx for all your expert and friendly advice Judy. Definitely helps w/ planning our trip.

April 8, 2018 at 5:45 PM

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