They all went down to AmsterDAM!

I can’t get that stupid camp song out of my head.
We took a 3-hour train ride here from Paris Saturday morning and will reverse the trip Tuesday evening. Amsterdam architecture and history are definitely distinctive – no confusing it with any other European city.
Saturday we visited the fabulous Rijks Museum which includes paintings from Dutch painters, including Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
Sunday we took the tram/light rail into town (Our hotel is new and several miles from the city center.) and walked around, touring the Tulip Museum that Laurel saw during our walk as well as the Cheese Museum that Laurel also saw. Then we spent a few hours at the large, modern Centraal Library where we ate dinner at their 7th-floor, organic cafeteria. After dinner Laurel and I went to the Anne Frank house which had extended hours. When we were still in Paris, I was able to buy the last two timed-entry tickets over the Internet. I’m glad I did because the line wound around two sides of a block earlier in the day. Charlie went to a bistro and ate dessert while he waited about an hour for us.
At 10 am today we met Michael, our tour guide, for a fascinating, 3-hour overview of the city. (Did you know Catholicism was outlawed here for two hundred years starting with the Protestant Reformation? Or that the city was formed by damming the Amster River? Or that they can’t build tall buildings here because the peat moss and sand upon which Amsterdam is built don’t provide a very stable foundation? Builders here place posts in the ground nearly as deep as the building is tall.) After lunch at a 3rd-floor restaurant with a view (but cheap by local standards), we walked again to the library and warmed up and then took the tram back to our hotel. There’s a person selling tickets in a booth on each tram. I’ve never seen that before.
On our tour today, Michael pointed out Rembrandt’s Protestant church, built during the 80-year war for independence from Catholic Spain in the 1600’s. Spain was controlled at that time by the Austrian Habsburgs. The Dutch built the church in such a way that it could be retrofitted to be a Catholic church in case the Spanish won the war. (There are empty niches on the bell tower where saint statues could be placed.)

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