Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amsterdam!

We are back from vacation, and what a time it was! I'm overflowing with things to talk about but since the most dreaded words in the English language are "Let me show you my vacation photos," I'll limit myself to quilt/art-related (in the broadest sense!) photos and a few general observations that I hope you'll find interesting. Today, the 4 days we spent in Amsterdam. This time of year, there are flowers and bicycles everywhere.
I loved Amsterdam. I had been there for a long weekend in 1980 and I worried that the city would not live up to my rosy memories, but it did. Amsterdam exudes charm and warmth; it was foreign, yet I felt at home. The art museums are among the best in the world (the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh), and when you take in the light and atmosphere of that part of the world, it's like walking onto the canvas of a great Dutch or Flemish painting.

There were far more bicycles than cars in the city. The two bikes parked in front of this home show how they can be used for everything -- the first has three children's seats (one in front of the handlebars and two behind the grown-up seat) and the second has a 'trunk' attached in front to carry things in. This is far more fuel efficient, and far more cardiovascularly healthy, than driving everywhere in an SUV!
There are even stoplights for the bicycles. Tourists can rent bikes, but the city is small enough that we walked everywhere. I was also pretty intimidated by the traffic.

I had read about some quiltshops on Laura Jasper's Lola Quilts blog, so of course I had to visit!
Unfortunately, the one specializing in traditional Dutch fabrics was closed for the month of July, but the other -- Bird Blocks -- was open. They had a lovely assortment of fabrics (mostly American, but most were new to me) and I bought two tiny paper piecing kits of Dutch scenes as a memento. I will have to go back in October one year (yeah, right!) to see the Netherlands guild annual quilt show. There is only one guild in the country, and it has 1400 members!

I did enjoy the clamshell quilting look of the sidewalks.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting Amsterdam's 17th century Portuguese Synagogue , which is still lit only by thousands of candles. Next door was a Jewish children's museum that was a blast to visit. The coat rack at the entrance was a delight:
And I loved the cascade of Hebrew letters next to one of the windows. One day I will quilt something like this -- don't know what, but it's percolating!
And in the museum's art room, the table had this saying, which we quilters understand:

And finally, I have to share the stairway carpeting of the hotel we stayed in -- very cool indeed, and it made me smile every time I saw it.

7 comments:

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

Amsterdam is one of my favorite places in the world, although I haven't been there since the early 90's. I'm glad to hear that it's still marvelous and lives up to expectations. fun pictures - love the coat hooks.

The Calico Cat said...

Could you send me the photo of the cascading Aleph-Bet (Hebrew Alphabet)? (And any similar photos from that museum.)

Dawn said...

I can't wait to see the little kit you got. What a shame the dutch quilt shop was closed. I have a piece of a gorgeous panel from that area that a friend gave me.

kitten said...

Could you send me the photo of the cascading Aleph-Bet (Hebrew Alphabet) also? Thanks!
Kitten_mc@hotmail.com
Oh, by the way....... Tag! Your it! The Middle Name Meme... Go to my blog and check it out.

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

Glad you enjoyed your holiday - looking forward to Venice.

JoAnna said...

Your trip looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing the photos. I've only heard good things about Amsterdamn, and you've got to love cities that are completely walk-able.

de vliegende koe said...

So much fun to read about your trip to Amsterdam. When you come there often (like me) you tend to ‘overlook’ the funny aspects. I don’t even know there is a shop with Original Dutch Fabrics in Amsterdam, is it Wagemakers? And as it comes to bikes, it’s the only way to move easily if you don‘t want to walk! All cities are full of bikes and it’s becoming more and more difficult to travel by car and find a parkingplace. We often have a ban-the-car policy in the ‘big’ cities!