Monday, May 10, 2010

Amsterdamming It Up Part 2: Tips and Queues

Since this is a writing-and-books-blog, you may wonder why I post stuff about travelling. Partly it's because this is my blog and I love travel, so the two can bloody well co-exist. But mostly it's because I am an information *freak* when it comes to travel. I read guidebooks about places I don't plan to go to, just for fun. I occasionally spend money on them for this purpose. I spend hours on Wikitravel, often doing nothing more than identifying places I'm not bothered with. I love reading about travel, and I'm even worse when a trip is imminent.

So if I was going away, and I knew a blogger who blogged about their trips, I'd go and check their tags. In fact, if I ever go to Vegas, my first stop will be Jen's blog :)

And I love sharing travel tips. If I had been to more places, I would start a dedicated travel blog. In fact, when I am a published writer and I'm doing book tours, even though I know book tours are unsettling whirlwinds of cities and airports and cabs and buses, I will turn to whoever is in charge of getting me places and I will say 'STOP EVERYTHING! I must use the public transport system or something so I can pick up some form of travel titbit to share with my blog readers!' They will think I'm mad, of course, but I'll be on a book tour so I won't care.

And also, I have this. . . thing. I get asked for directions all the time. I was in Amsterdam for three full days and parts of two more days, and I got asked for directions three times. Bear in mind that one of those full days was Queen's Day, and on Queen's Day no one really cares where they're going.

I don't mind being asked for directions, but since it happens to me so often I always feel guilty when I don't know the answer. I'm always glad when I can help, and I was extra-glad the final time I was asked for directions in Amsterdam, because I also got to give a Tip. This makes me, you see, practically a Native :p

When Writer Friend and I arrived at the Van Gogh Museum, we were drenched and freezing - and the queue was stretching around the entire building. And we had one small umbrella between us. We were standing in the queue, getting progressively more miserable, when I overheard a very nice girl a few metres away saying 'You can buy a ticket in the Diamond Museum across the road and skip the queue! We've just done it! Go on!'

So we did, and we did.

And the following day, two cyclists stopped and asked the way to the Van Gogh Museum, and not only was I able to tell them (I felt like such a native. . . except I speak only three words of Dutch. . .) but I was able to give them the tip about the Diamond Museum! I was very happy. Now I'm giving the same tip to you guys. Incidentally, going first thing in the morning also works.

As for the museum itself - you like Van Gogh or you don't. If you don't, you're probably not reading this bit, and if you do, you'll probably like the museum. The selection of paintings on display isn't huge but it is well-chosen and presented chronologically with enough interesting snippets about his life to put the whole thing in context. 'Almond Blossoms' is probably my favourite. No reproduction could do it justice. I also love his Japanese period.

I want to get a biography of Van Gogh, because the exhibition suggested to me that Theo Van Gogh and his wife are among the most unsung heroes of twentieth century art - for a long time Theo supported his brother financially, and believed in his ability in a way artists can usually only dream of. After Theo's death, his wife dedicated her life to advancing Vincent's reputation. I must know more! so if anyone happens to know of a good biography of Van Gogh, do tell :)

That's it for now - and I promise the next post will have Amsterdam and books in it!

PS - Writer Friend isn't happy about being called Writer Friend. If Writer Friend ever has a blog, I will be dubbed Un-Creative Friend. So you'll all know it's me :)


  1. Great post. If I ever get a book tour, I'm getting the double-decker train everywhere.
    What a lovely snippet about Van Gogh and his family. I saw a Van Gogh exhibition in London once, you don't really appreciate the paintings enough until you see them.

  2. We've recently had several Van Gogh masterpieces come to my home city. I love his art.

  3. I love his work too - someday I really must make it to New York again and go to the Met to see Starry Night. Oh, and all the other cool stuff they have :)

  4. How fun to hear about your travels! I've never been to Amsterdam. Sounds like a great place.

  5. Great post Ellen! Sounds like such a fun trip. I love Amsterdam but every time I go there it seems to rain! Still, the city makes up for it.

  6. Enjoyed this Ellen. I have to say I agree with you. The reproductions do not do Van Gough's art and talent justice. I saw a few of his paintings in the Institute of Art, Chicago. When in London, my son fell in love with his paintings. Thanks for the tip about the tickets. Will keep that in mind.

  7. Thanks for the comments, guys! Trust me, if you aren't there when they open, you will probably thank me for the tip about the Diamond Museum :)

    Incidentally, since the Diamond Museum have this nice little queue-workaround going on, it might be nice if someone actually visited the Diamoond Museum itself sometime. I didn't have time the day I was there, but I will visit them next time to thank them for the time they saved me!


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