Thursday, July 24, 2014

Amsterdam: The Beautiful Details



The time has come to say goodbye to Amsterdam, we're catching the train and heading to Belgium!  Ghent, to be exact.   At age fifteen, Belgium left a good impression on me, so I always wanted to return for a longer stay and to see other cities.  This time around, I revisited the charming city of Bruges, and explored Ghent and Brussels for the first time.  I'll be back tomorrow with my first post on Ghent, one of the cities I enjoyed photographing the most.  Okay, so I enjoy photographing everything, everywhere, but Ghent was particularly medieval and unique.  

Enough rambling, back to Amsterdam.  This post is full of statues, monuments, architectural details, sunsets, cool stores, bridges, canals and other special details that I spotted while walking the picturesque streets.  The perfect close to my series of posts on this great city:





In case you're just tuning in now, I'm writing all about my recent travels through Europe.  If you want to know more, check out my introduction post - 37 Days in Europe - for incessant rambling and an itinerary!  ;)

Enjoy…

Catherine


I will never get enough of all these gorgeous carved details that flank every door and building corner...


A striking Passion Flower Vine (Passiflora) for sale outside a little shop:



This is the view across the Singel canal of De Krijtberg Kerk, a Roman Catholic church that I showed you in one of my earlier posts. I was standing right along the water at a spot that we passed on foot every day after leaving our hotel. Each time, I would admire this statue, and I finally stopped to take her picture. I have done a bit of searching for information and can't find anything. Unfortunately I did not look around at the time to see if there was an obscure plaque, though it doesn't look like it from my picture. Does anyone happen to know who she is?



As I post about all of the different cities that I visited during my time in Europe, you'll begin to notice a trend in the things I like to photograph. One of them is door knockers and hardware. I also love doors, windows, balconies, bridges, flowers, iron grates, and various architectural details. Europe has a vast array of creative door knockers, and I did my best to take photos of every one I spotted that was out of control gorgeous:


You see the knocker in the photo below on the right? Well my family has a similar one on our door, except it's not painted, it's natural brass. It was my father's (perhaps grandfather's, not sure), he engraved it with our last name and installed it on the door years ago. He engraved many things in his life, but I am grateful for this specific piece since it has our family name and reminds me of my father, and Europe, each time I see it.

    

This cat was fiercely guarding the door to a business (her business? ha), hell, she looked at me like "Don't even think about crossing this threshold you paparazzi you!"



The building you see above is the Royal Palace, it's a neoclassical gem that used to be city hall from 1655-1808, now it's the royal residence.  This is Dam Square, a national square at the heart of the historical center of Amsterdam.  It's a well-known spot for tourists, hanging out, meeting people, demonstrations, performers, fairs, national holiday celebrations, and all sorts of other events.  And apparently, according to Wikipedia, it was the most vital tram hub in Amsterdam during the times of the horse drawn drams at the end of the 19th century.  After 1900, trains took over and Centraal Station went into operation, which was built at the end of a street that branches off of Dam Square called Damrak, pictured below:




Above, to the right of the Royal Palace is the Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), which dates back to the 15th century.

    

And for some reason, which I do not understand, Madame Tussaud and her wax museum got in on the action of Dam Square with this large establishment:


Bikes parked everywhere!

    

There are a pair of cool stone lions flanking the outer edges of the steps leading to this stone pillar, which is The National Monument - erected in 1956 to memorialize victims of World War II, designed by J.J.P. Oud:


People hang out on those steps all day long, and who can blame them?  Great view of the square and endless people watching!


I found this raunchy Dutch Maid with the Delft blue tattoos pretty funny, it was on a poster for a tattoo convention:





Cheese stores all around town!



We spent some more time hanging out on the Singel by our hotel, admiring those fascinating Eurasian Coots that I showed you in a couple of my previous posts:


  

At one point, he looked up at us in what seemed like impatient annoyance…  Waiting for us to throw him some food?  Those red eyes were pretty sinister and demanding:




Cats gracing the doorsteps of small shops were not a rare sight!  Neither were roses...




A stationary store with lots of neat prints hanging in the window display:

    


This funky piece of art really caught my eye!  It's some type of paper mache (papier-mâché) mask covered and elaborated in ikat fabric!

    



I saw a handful of these wonderful bikes in Amsterdam, they have a large wheel barrel-like bin in front where you can strap in your children!  Very cute!!


Canal cruisers doing their thing...


Pretty vines crawling up the sides of buildings, always charming...




Serene canals at every turn, and detailed bridges too...


I think I've already mentioned how frequent a sight statues are in Amsterdam, here is another one:


Unfortunately I can't make out the name carved at the bottom. 





Standing on any bridge and taking in the scene down the canal never fails to make me smile, it's so pleasing to the eye...










Believe it or not, at this point it was about 9:30pm, almost 10 o'clock, and the sky began its spectacular show as the sun finally began to set...





    







We got invited to an "illegal rave" at these buildings covered in graffiti of snakes and faces, including Mr. Nelson Mandela's smiling face!  Sadly, when we tried to find the place later that night, we got lost, hehe…  


Yet another, statue, an odd and random one...


A funky dragon statue outside a tattoo shop:




By the time I finish blogging about this trip you will notice that France is not the only place with a "love lock" problem on its bridges!  I spotted these locks on several of Amsterdam's bridges, as well as bridges in many other cities visited on my trip!  Wait until you see the ones in Paris though, they really are impressive!  Unfortunately, the love lock trend is also a big problem, creating structural issues for the bridge over time with all the added weight.  I hear that in Paris it's such a problem that the city has to come by every year and cut them all off, only for them to accumulate all over again, over and over again...



    

In close, here is one of the prettiest bridges I saw while in Amsterdam, its beautiful details all lit up throughout the night:


(All images in this post are the original photographs of the author of this blog. Do not copy or reuse any images on this site without written consent from www.InspireBohemia.com)
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