On Sunday April 12th 2015 we hopped in the car and pointed our GPS to The Netherlands!
Yes, we (I mean, I) rented it solely for the pink couch.
The interior decor and design was super awesome and inviting.
Our airbnb host recommended a great parking lot right by the main train station (which was where our planned Rick Steves' walk started) so we plugged in the address to our GPS, found it no problem, parked, and headed out to explore the city.
This quiet courtyard lined with houses around a church has sheltered women since 1346. This was for centuries the home of a community of Beguines - pious and simple women who removed themselves from the world at large to dedicate their lives to God. When it was first established it literally was a "woman's island" - a circle of houses facing a courtyard surrounded by water.
Leaving the courtyard we crossed through Spui, a square lined with cafes and bars.
Details from Amsterdam.
A bicycle-lined narrow alley across from the flower market.
The "Golden Curve" of the Herengracht canal.
Our end destination was Museumplein, bookended by the Van Gogh and Rijks museums. We weren't really looking for the famous I AMsterdam sign, but we found it! Plus, with the gorgeous Rijksmuseum in the background and the tulips in the fountain, this was a perfect place to get a family photo.
We paid the exorbitant admission price (17.50 euros! EACH!) and entered the museum. On the ground floor was probably the coolest thing we saw in the whole place, one of Van Gogh's actual palettes with some of his paints. Amazing.
Figuring out the floorplan was a little complicated, but eventually we made it up to the Great Hall covered in late-Victorian murals.
There are only about 34 Vermeers in existence and this museum has three. All in the same cove. Needless to say, it was packed around those three paintings.
The Maggie Holmes buildings :)
So happy to find these! They're right outside Central Station, FYI.
The lovely Westerkerk, or Western Church.
Eventually we wound up at the Anne Frank House. Line much?
Walking across the bridge to the other side of the canal we got a good view of the museum. I kind of wish they had maintained the exterior how it was when the Frank family hid here, but alas, the exterior was modernized.
Bikes, bikes, and more bikes.
One last look at this amazing row of houses!
Next stop: Brussels, Belgium - country #20! But who's counting? :)