Monday, June 7, 2010

My trip to Amsterdam. Part 2.

On our second day in Amsterdam, the sun came out and the city shone. The lines for Van Gogh and the Rijksmusem were hella long so we skipped and wandered around the city instead.

We happened upon an adorable toy store, Tinkerbell. We ended up buying one of those backgammon/chess/checkers/chinese checkers etc. game bonanzas that are super awesome! The Monsieur and I love games.

This pic is from google earth.

We hit up another toy store that had loads upon loads of mobiles. And the cutest little miniature bikes in the window.

After all our toying around we got pretty hungry, so we figured now was the time to try the Rijsttafel. It's apparently a multi-course Indonesian meal centered around small plates and rice. What's interesting about it is that although the food is Indonesian, the format seems to have developed in the Netherlands.

El boyfriendo was quite psyched by the meal and I'll admit the stewed pork and deep fried bananas were bomb but the real treat at Selecta was the traditional Indonesian puppets Wayang, and the fierce dragons flanking the bar. Our super friendly waitress was kind enough to give me the skinny on the puppets.

1. They're Indonesian. Duh. But yeah they were bought there and she didn't know any local spots where you could pick some up. I looked around the interweb and it seems they can be found here and there through importers and antique dealers. I will keep you posted if I make an acquisition.
2. Even though they have very intricate hand done paint work, they are actually meant as shadow puppets. I tried to get some close ups of the intricate cut-outs so you could appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into these guys. And imagine how awesome the shadows look when performing? Next stop...Indonesia please.

Lastly the dragons. So cool. So mean and scary. I would love a pair of these to flank my bookshelves. Man I am flanking up the joint in here lately!

Stuffed, tired and happy; we made our way back to the Hague. Tot Ziens, Amsterdam!

Tips for next time:

1. The Museums get slammed and the lines are unbelievably long and hellaciously slow-moving. So get up early, go on a weekday or both.

2. There's 2 mansions. One's a fancy exclusive hotel, and you can't get a drink at the bar because they are also all an all-inclusive concept hotel. The second one's a fancy exclusive bar, nightclub with a gentleman's club vibe. This is the one you want to go for. Make sure to get the address of the club and not the hotel before you go searching for it in the pouring rain.

3. Don't stay at the Arena Hotel. Even though it looks schamncy and four-star and yes the lobby is stunning. Let's just say, plenty of mildew in the bathroom, dingy room, [seriously, the whole housekeeping staff/management needs a revamp because the room was way less than ship shape] and the front of house staff is super snippy, surly, grumpy. Best part was the 24 hour pizza delivery place. Awesome.

4. Don't try to sample the regional cuisine. Tis not good. Go for Indonesian, Chinese, Bistro, Italian. You'll be glad you did.

5. Avoid the touristy coffeeshop crap. It's filled with loud, dumb American college students stuffing their maws with spacecakes while trying to cram as much pot smoke as humanly possible in their lungs. If you like to indulge, find something low-key with a laid-back local vibe. I heard Dutch Flowers is great.

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