Amsterdam and Paris 2015 – Day 4 – Markets, Parks, a Cat or Two, and the Eurovision Song Contest

Day Four in Amsterdam – Markets, Parks, a Cat or Two, and the Eurovision Song Contest
(Continued from Day 3
Saturday was our last full day in Amsterdam.  We were going to check out the newly renovated Stedelijk Museum, but there was a change of plans.  Our friend Udi was free that morning, and he suggested we check out some local markets.  Sounded good to us!  First we had a nice brunch at Teun.

Then we hit an outdoor market in his neighborhood, the Jordaan.  Vendors were selling a variety of drinks.

Lots of meats…

and spreads, and dips

and pastries and breads….

and flowers.  There were also clothes and shoes.  All sorts of things, in a really lovely outdoor setting.

I took this artistic photo while we strolled around

Udi took us to an interesting housing complex.  It’s called Karthuizerhof (the official names is Huiszittenweduwenhof), and it’s one of the largest “hofjes”(squares) in Amsterdam.  According to the history, it was built in 1650, to house poor people and widows with children.  Nowadays, you don’t have to be poor or a widow to live here.  What’s nice about these places is that you don’t see the charming courtyard from the outside.  The Jordaan neighborhood has a high concentration of them, many of them with peaceful gardens.  Some are closed to the public and only open their gate on special days called “open monuments days”.  This one is open to the public, but you are expected to be quiet and respectful when visiting.  

The courtyard was quiet and nicely landscaped

I immediately spotted a well-fed cat with the cutest little white feet

Behind him, in an apartment, an orange cat was watching the activity

Next was a visit to the current “it” place for coffee.  This hipster cafe recently won an award for having the most talented baristas in the business.  Udi liked coming here because he has a major crush on one of them.

Udi left us to run some errands, while Mark and I decided to explore The Pijp (pronounced “pipe”), a multi-ethnic neighborhood that I really like.  One of the hallmarks of the neighborhood is the Heineken brewery which offers a tour.  It’s a very popular tourist attraction.  One day I’ll probably check it out.

The other main attraction is the Albert Cuyp Market, a HUGE outdoor market with booths that sell everything imaginable.  There are hundreds of stalls.

Amsterdammers tend to be pretty lean, but there were enough XXXXXXXXL sweaters on display to convince me that there must be a closeted population of enormous Dutch folks out there somewhere.

They had such nice breads and cheeses that we were tempted to just get some and go to a nearby park and picnic.   But I specifically wanted to go to a particular restaurant nearby.
Last time I came to Amsterdam, we ate in this wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant called Bazar.  It’s located in what used to be an old church.  It’s huge, and has really neat decor.  The menu is enormous, and the food is inexpensive and great.  It’s on the same street as the market, so we went in.

In one section, the ceiling overhead is a huge array of Christmas lights.

Check out the decor.  Pretty cool, no?

We then wandered around the neighborhood, checking out all of the ethnic grocery stores, before ducking into the beautiful Sarphatipark.

It was a beautiful day.  Perfect for taking a crooked photo.

Here’s a pretty cool concept:  You tear one of these sheets off so you can sit on the grass without getting dirt or grass stains on your clothes.  They have a little  container to recycle them when you’re done with them.

There was a neat art project being conducted in the park.  A large structure was erected that had multiple chalkboards around it.  The project was called “Before I Die”, and you were encouraged to write out what you would like to do before you die.  I made my intentions pretty clear.

After the park we headed back to the northwest part of town, where we were staying.  On the way, we passed a veterinary clinic.  I always find these foreign veterinary practices interesting.

We arrived at the Museumplein, one of the most popular spots in Amsterdam.  Here’s where three of the major museums are located, as well as the big concert hall.

There’s the Stedelijk Museum, looking like a giant bathtub.  I still haven’t been inside.

Next to the Stedelijk is the van Gogh Museum.  Way at the other end of the Museumplein is the stately Rijksmuseum.

You can barely see it in the photo above, but in the photo below is the famous I amsterdam sculpture, which was crawling with people, as usual.

It’s summer, so of course there’s always something interesting going on here.  Last time I was here, it was a big outdoor music festival.  This time, it was an art exhibit featuring many sculptures.

Like this funky one in the pool in the center of the square

We got back to Udi’s and chilled out for a bit.  The original plan was to meet one of Udi’s friends, and the four of us were going to go to dinner, but this evening was the Eurovision Song Contest, and Udi’s friend was having a few people over.  I liked the idea of hanging with the locals at a real party, in a real apartment, so we did this instead and had a pretty good time.  

And so ends our last full day in Amsterdam.  Tomorrow we have a few hours in Amsterdam before we hop on the train to the City of Lights…  Paris!

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