Eye, a film museum, exhibition space and cinema for art house movies with a mandate that seems similar to that of Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox. It was a bit of a challenge navigating our way through the enormous Central Station terminal in order to find the ferry, but once we did, it was merely a matter of joining the queue and boarding the boat which can hold pedestrians, bicycles (of course!) and even cars. The ferry was a bit smaller than the ones that traverse to Toronto’s Islands but had a similar feel. We were told that the Eye café had a nice view of the harbour and was that ever an understatement. The view was amazing and the food was good too. Looking around, I would say that there were at least as many locals enjoying the atmosphere in the café as there were tourists.
an excerpt of it on YouTube, but you really don’t get the full effect unless you are sitting in that long, dark room literally watching the procession go by from one end to the other. Kentridge had a few other animated films showing as part of this exhibit, but this one was the most powerful and visually stimulating by far.
On the ground floor, leading up to the cinemas was a long row of old movie posters. English titles included West Side Story and An Anatomy of Murder but most of the posters were of foreign movies like Les Amants, or were Dutch translations of English movies. Currently screening at Eye were documentaries like Citizenfour, foreign films like Tokyo Story, and special versions of classic movies like The Blade Runner – The Final Cut. The gift shop contained movie memorabilia including books, posters, DVDs, but my favourite was the rack of cardboard masks of iconic TV and movie characters. Don’t you think I make a good Heisenburg from Breaking Bad? This turned out to be a great excursion. The ferry ride and cafe stop would have already made it worth the trip, but the excellent exhibits took it over the top.
Rijks Museum. The choice makes sense, since the Mickey sculptures are fun, easily recognizable and accessible to all ages, while some of the other sculptures needed some expert interpretation. We learned that “Better Knowing”, the seated Mickey sculpture looking morosely down at what looks like Pinocchio’s nose, was spray painted with graffiti the day before the exhibition’s opening day. Staff spent all night madly working to clean off the tags. While this must have been heartbreaking for those who worked so hard to put this show together, it is just a bit ironic that a graffiti artist’s work was targeted for graffiti. Although the sculptures look like they are made of bronze or hard plastic, they are actually made out of painted wood over a steel frame. If you look closely, you can see the grooves of the wood and if you knock on the works, they are hollow inside.
Dutch sculptor Georg Herold’s vibrant, female figures with elongated cubic edges are made of wood covered with canvas, cast in bronze, then spray painted. They are posed like lanky, exaggerated versions of pinup models or ballet dancers. Looking at British sculptor Tony Cragg’s bronze sculpture “Runner” from the side, you can see the figure and actually feel like it is moving. But looking at it straight on and from afar, it rather looks like a Japanese topiary. When I spotted the vertically stretched and compressed head of a girl, I immediately thought of South-African born Canadian Evan Penny who created similarly shaped works. However this turned out to be the sculpture “Duna” by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, whose female head’s eyes are closed in a relaxed and meditative state. Like Tony Cragg’s Runner, Duna changes in appearance as you walk around her, and as the light reflects off of each surface.
It is nice to stay in a peaceful residential area that is not overrun with tourists or crowds, but is still easily accessible to the downtown core. Our home swap neighbourhood, just north of Vondelpark, fits this criteria perfectly and is quite interesting to explore in its own right. There are some very beautiful buildings and homes in the area. The Atlas Hotel and its unidentified next door neighbour, are both gorgeously adorned in the Art Nouveau style. The Dutch Riding School (Hollandse Manage) is an active horse riding school and museum, housed in a lovely early 19th Century neoclassical building modelled after the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The front entrance of the riding school has on display what looks like a horse Hall of Fame, or perhaps is a lineup of the current horses available for lessons? Nearby, there is the late 19th century former school for girls that has now been turned into a youth hostel. It is built in “chalet-style” with wooden balconies and overhanging roofs with decorative trimmings. We spotted some enormous mansions overlooking Vondelpark that must have amazing views from their upper balconies and windows.
After weeks of dodging the innumerable cyclists in Amsterdam, we decided we wanted to get in on the action. Riding around in Vondelpark seemed like the perfect plan since it had been too big for us to cover by foot, and its wide bike paths would give us more room to navigate without getting in the way of the more experienced local cyclists. The bicycles that we rented from OttoBikes were some of the most comfortable and easy riding rental bikes that we have ever ridden. The wide, soft seat seemed to mould to my rear end and the upright handle bars and smooth gears made for an easy ride. I’ve decided that I need to get a new bicycle seat once I return home. After watching several other cycling groups do the same, Rich wanted to attempt the “bicycle selfie”. It was hilarious watching him try and I was weaving from side to side to try to get into the shots. You can see the results … Rich must have liked them since he seems quite pleased with himself in one of them.
Riding around, we were able to cover much more ground and saw parts of the park that we did not get to previously. We spotted many cool sculptures including a wood carving of a man (Atlas?) holding up a tree trunk that had naturally toppled over. Someone had wrapped a jaunty scarf around the neck of a female nude sculpture, and we finally found the sculpture that we were actually looking for–the giant Fish by Pablo Picasso.
We found a tennis club with a thatched-roof clubhouse and multiple clay courts nestled in behind tall hedges at one end of the park. We rode by the Blue Tearoom, a white and blue 1930s Modernist structure, shaped like The Great Gazoo’s flying saucer from the Jetsons cartoon. The day we went for our bike ride, Vondelpark was hosting some sort of festival that featured food, drinks, a flea market and live music. It was too crowded for us to stay by the bandstand with our bikes, so we found a bench across the pond and listened for a while.
While we quite enjoy doing all the typical touristy activities in a new city, we also like trying to live like the locals and find out what they might do in their spare time. I think we succeeded quite well on this trip and had a great time doing it.