Amsterdam Part II: Cheeses and Churches

You know you’ve made it in life when spontaneous adventures include a visit to a museum all about cheese.

We learned about the history of cheese making, saw some cool cheese and butter molds, and rocked the Dutch Maid look like nobody’s business. We also sampled 30 different varieties of cheese—for freeeeeeee!—including some blue cheese. Not bleu cheese. BLUE cheese. Like, cerulean blue. And pesto green (my favorite) and hot pink, too.* The staff were super friendly, as well, and we enjoyed it so much that when it came time to decide what to eat for dinner, we went back again and bought some (colorful) cheese and (not so colorful) crackers.

Next, the winds of spontaneity blew us right through the front doors of a very austere Protestant church called Westerkerk. It didn’t have any colorful stained glass—or anything very colorful at all, for that matter—but it was full of glorious sunshine and beautiful music. An organist was practicing for services later that evening, and the rafters were filled to bursting with his jubilant strains.

The #3 thing on my Amsterdam To Do List (after #1 “Visit Anne Frank House” and #2 “Eat Stroopwafel”) was to visit Oude Kerk, a Catholic cathedral. I’ve wanted to see it ever since I visited the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., two years ago. One of my favorite paintings there was one of Oude Kerk, and it looked amazing.

To be perfectly honest, I think the painting was better. These days, Oude Kerk is rather… empty. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the super ornate cathedrals I have visited since I’ve been in Europe, but Oude Kerk was pretty barren. It felt kind of like a warehouse with pretty windows and 1200 graves set into the floor…

There were also some very—uhhh—interesting art installations where I would have expected shrines and religious artifacts to be. There was a fake archaeology dig, weird melted silver things, yarn draped from the railings of a second spiral staircase, random bones, a 3D cardboard city scape, and a bunch of people sitting around hitting the floor with various noise-making objects. Sure puts the odd in Oude Kerk.

Or maybe I just don’t get it.

The best part was definitely before we actually went into the cathedral, when we saw a crowd gathering along the canal just outside. In the water was a man in a boat playing a box organ and various brass instruments. As if that wasn’t enough fun, the bell ringer in the Oude Kerk bell tower was playing along with him! It was so cool! We gave the bell ringer a special cheer at the end and he came out to wave at us. 🙂

After exploring a bit more of the city and appreciating the lovely canals and architecture, Sibyl and I headed back to Amsterdamse Bos in time to watch the sunset over a canal where the Amsterdam University crew team were practicing.

The next morning, Sibyl took a train back to Germany and I took a ferry through the fog back to Newcastle. It was a whirlwind of a trip—less than 48 hours in Amsterdam—but quite the adventure nonetheless.

Hartelijk bedankt, Amsterdam! You were beautiful!

If you missed Part I of my adventure in Amsterdam with Sibyl, read it here.

* I didn’t get a picture of the colorful cheeses, but this couple did did. (Scroll down to see it)

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