Game of Thrones (for those who don’t know) is a wildly popular TV show where different noble families and kingdoms fight each other and try to out-maneuver each other to gain power. It’s based on books written by George R. R. Martin, who lives in Santa Fe. At the exhibit, they had lots of props from the show and a few interactive exhibits (you could put your face on the wall of faces devoted to the Many-Faced God for insistence).
One of the coolest things about the show is the costumes – they are amazing and had so much detail.
And of course we had to sit on the Iron Throne.
Since it was one of the last days of the exhibit, there were very few people there (which was great).
The next morning, we got up early and got on the train to Amsterdam (we even saw a nuclear reactor from the train)! I had a meeting there on Saturday and Sunday, so Kelly and I both went and explored the city. When we got there, I was already running a tad late, so we got checked into the hotel and I rushed over to the meeting. Kelly stayed back and took a boat tour through the city.
Amsterdam is probably best known for it’s “red light district” and that it’s pretty easy to buy marijuana, but in most of the city, you really don’t see much of that. It’s a very relaxed place, with people just hanging out and riding bikes to go everywhere (it’s ranked as the second best city to live – Paris is ranked fourth). It’s also completely full of canals – there are canals everywhere. Amsterdam actually gets it’s name because it’s where the Amstel river ends.
Kelly learned some interesting things about the city on her boat tour. At one point, the housing prices in Amsterdam started to rise dramatically, so they started renting our space for people to have house boats on the canal. Now, the house boats are still there, but prices are still really high – Kelly even saw a chandelier in one of the house boats!
Builders also wanted to make the houses look bigger than they actually were, so they made the windows very tall and narrow in many houses. Since some houses are pretty small, there often isn’t enough room in the stairway to get furniture in and out – so lots of the houses also have a pulley on the top, so furniture can be lifted from the outside and brought into the house through the window!
This view down the canals is one of the most iconic in Amsterdam – and it was almost destroyed. When they were putting in the new trams, one of the plans was to build a bridge that would have blocked the view. Thankfully, that plan was never carried out, and this great view still exists.
When I was done with my meeting at night, Kelly and I met up and got dinner at an Italian restaurant right on a canal. Afterwards, we wandered around and explored the city – most areas were pretty quiet, but a few had a really good nightlife with tons of people drinking and having fun.
The next morning (Sunday morning) I went back to my meeting, and Kelly did some more exploring. We met back up for lunch, and found this great square with a few restaurants (I got a Heineken, as one does in Amsterdam). Another interesting tidbit – most of the people in Amsterdam speak English and Dutch – because so few people speak Dutch in the world, nearly everyone there is bilingual at least – many also know some German and/or French.
Then we walked a bit over to the Van Gogh museum. If you’re in Amsterdam and like art, I’d definitely recommend it (and get the audio guide) – it tells the story of his life through his art, and how his techniques changed and developed over time – his use of color and brush strokes to convey emotion is amazing.
After the museum, we walked around a bit more and found a little cafe. We ended up getting some drinks there and a group of Americans sat down next to us. I noticed one had a NY Yankees hat, other other had a shirt that said “Lake George”, so we started talking to them. One of them was from Farmingdale, my hometown!
After that we got some ice cream and started making our way back to the train station for our train back to Paris. While my time there was short, Amsterdam is truly an amazing city that I’d love to go back to.