Amsterdam: James Bond, Ships and a Vermeer

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

I had two days in Amsterdam, I hadn’t quite formulated my route and Amsterdam seemed a good place to decide which way to go.

It was somewhere I’d never been, yet had wanted to, and probably not for a reason you’d expect! (Unless you’ve read this post!)

For all its sex, drugs and canals, I wanted Amsterdam for one thing: James Bond!

Haha, yes, it features in Diamonds are Forever and this is what enticed me!

Plus it always looks so darn pretty in pictures and on the big screen.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam sure is beautiful too, I wandered without aim around the canals of the historic old city, some lined with quirky shops others purely domestic.

It was among the 17th Century canals that I found the 007 locations: the ‘Skinny Bridge’ – “Mrs. Whistler DID want some pictures of the canals for the children.” –

and the exterior of Tiffany Case’s apartment – “That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.”

While I was on the Skinny Bridge mentally reliving the scene (where Mrs Whistler’s corpse is being dragged out of the Amstel river) a Frenchman asked if I would take his photo. He set to posing and as I went to take the photo I saw a huge barge heading for the bridge, I glanced to the side to realise we were now the only people on the bridge, and we were being shouted at!

“Get off the bridge!”.

The bridge needed to open to let the barge through. Yet still the Frenchman urged me to take his photo!

It was rather embarrassing!

Amsterdam

Not the Skinny Bridge, but the same design.

After my little James Bond treasure hunt, I took a free walking tour to get to know the city a little better.

The walk began in the Red Light District, rather tame at 11.30 in the morning. The whole area is due to change next year, in a bid to aim it at champagne and cocktail sorts rather than stoned beer drinkers.

Our guide was a super chatty Irish guy called Mark, he gave us a potted history, a little Dutch and a sample of Gouda cheese!

It was a very enjoyable tour and I felt a lot more familiar with Amsterdam after it.

I headed indoors to enjoy some of Amsterdam’s museums, of which there are many.

I decided I’d visit the Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum). It has good reviews and I’m fascinated by that golden era of ocean trade in the 17th Century. British naval history and Dutch naval history is so intertwined in those early years of commandeering the globe.

The museum is situated in a grand building on a small island of its own.

The Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum

The museum building is set around a cobbled courtyard which has been enclosed with a glass roof appearing like the navigation charts on early maps.

It is an excellent museum: modern, well presented and interactive.

The maps room is wonderful, lots of old books and atlases under dimmed light.

The ancient maps seem so incomplete, ethereal in their hazy coastlines and empty voids. So much was unknown, unexplored.

I could have gazed at these worlds for hours.

One room displayed photographs capturing a snapshot of maritime history in the 1920s and 30s: haunting and fascinating to view. They were set in collections, like family photographs on the wall, comfy chairs and a coffee table set the scene.

I took part in the interactive ‘Voyage at Sea’: a 25 minute audio-visual experience. A group of us were taken through a series of ‘scenes’ where we were made to feel part of history, and a little seasick (I jest, but it is cleverly done!).

The admission ticket also includes entrance to The Amsterdam, a replica of a 1700’s Dutch East India Company ship – the original lays stricken in the English Channel where it sank on its maiden voyage, and can still be seen at low tide.

It is great to explore, you can easily imagine the spices and tea packed into the hold had it actually reached the Far East.

Before the Dutch East India Company, ships came back with only one type of cargo. The Dutch East India Company revolutionised trade by having a large fleet and splitting the different cargos into each of the ships, so that if a ship was lost only a small percentage of that product would be lost too.

It made excellent sense, the Dutch monopolised the oceans and capitalism was born!

Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum

All the wealth created a Golden Age for the Netherlands, art flourished and there is nowhere better to appreciate this than at the Rijksmuseum. I had every intention of slowly savouring this museum but I spent far too long in the Maritime Museum!

In the end I had to rush it, zipping from one incredible painting to the next.

I could not take my eyes off Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, such vibrant blue and yellow. It was still bright and clear in my head as I walked back to the hostel, such is its beauty.

So that was Amsterdam, and I’d booked a train to Hamburg! 

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Amsterdam James Bond, ships and a Vermeer!

 

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What’s your favourite thing about Amsterdam?

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

2 Responses

  1. Such a beautiful city! Can’t wait to visit one day

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