Amsterdam in 72 Hours – The First Day

Visiting Amsterdam in the winter is a gamble, it may be sunny and nice or it could be damp and nasty. Either way, as there are 75 museums in Amsterdam there is always one more museum to visit even when canal cruising and Amsterdam by bike is not favoured by weather. What to do in Amsterdam for 72 hours is not a dilemma, it’s a choice.

1. Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam

How to get to the Eye Filmmuseum

Best way to reach the futuristic building where the Eye Filmmuseum you can simply take a free ferry from behind the Amsterdam central station. The ferry connecting the Amsterdam old town with the Noord neighbourhood is free to everybody, you can take your bike with you and crossing is really rapid.

Tip – plan your Eye museum visit to Thursday evening to join the free guided tour. Unfortunately, even when visiting Amsterdam in February when it’s less crowded plan ahead, all free tickets were already taken. So remember to plan ahead and make your reservation ahead of time.

Eye Filmmuseum Permanent Collection

Eye film museum permanent collection is interactive and family friendly. With technical equipment and texts to tell the story of how the idea and a dream of a capturing movement on a picture developed into a film. There are plenty of interactive gadgets to illustrate the beginning of the moving pictures.

Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam permanent collection

The biggest hit is the body-painting wall in the entrance hall – a shadow-wall where each movement of a person creating the shadow will result with a burst of colour.  Down in the basement is green-wall filming where you can select a one-minute film clip that will play while you can “participate” in the film. In the end, you can send the movie to your email and/or share it to social media.

The Alchemical Wedding by Jan švankmajer – Visiting Exhibition in Eye Filmmuseum

The Alchemical Wedding is an impressive collection of films and artworks. Real treat to people who are into surrealism, symbolism and allegories. The collection is an interesting mixture of recent history and retrospect of the art that lead up to it. While the theme of stop-motion movie and surrealistic storytelling is not what one would call “my cup of tea” it was interesting to get out of my comfort zone and sample art I would not usually go for. Most creepy things were the mash-up of animals and minerals.

After leaving the Noord to head to Jordaan neighbourhood in the north-west of Amsterdam. There are a few smaller museums I would like to take a look.  Right across the canal from the Anne Frank House are the Amsterdam Tulipe museum and few blocks away is an other writer’s house museum.

2. Multatuli Museum

The Multatuli Museum fassad.

Cruising the bike between Amsterdam canals can be a challenge to ones map reading skills. I usually try to point my bike in the right direction and count on the map how many canal crossings away next turn is. When I reach that corner the map comes out again, count the canals and go. Works wonders with both GPS and paper map. However, finding the Multatuli museum turned out to be more complicated as the address directs to the small street that is not on Google maps (or paper map that I had). However, the position on Google maps turned out to be correct and I discovered a small (bikes and pedestrians only) alley where the famous Duch writer’s house museum is located.

The house where Multatuli museum is the birthplace of the famous Dutch writer, Eduard Douwes Dekker 02.03.1820-19.02.1887) who wrote under pen-name Multatuli. The Multatuli Museum is the house where Multatuli was born.

Writer's home - Multatuli office

The writer’s home is set up as a period house and exhibits the author’s personal library (turns out that Multatuli was an admirer of Mr Dickens works) and furniture. The ground floor is a museum shop and the basement is a library with a collection of research materials and Multatuli works.

The bulk of library collection is made up of the author’s own works. including first prints and translations into multiple lang

Max Havelaar: The book that killed colonialism

His most famous book is satirical novel  Max Havelaar where he openly (for that time) talks about the abuses and human rights violations in the Dutch colonies. He was stationed in the Dutch East Indies, in the present days Indonesia.

As one of the first authors to talk about mistreatment of people in colonies his work is considered ground-breaking. Indonesian novelist Pramoedya .A. T. has argued that by giving a push towards and educational reforms, Max Havelaar was responsible for the nationalist movement that ended colonialism in Indonesia after 1945. These events, in turn, became bases for decolonization in Africa and elsewhere in the world making the Max Havelaar “the book that killed colonialism”.

Indonesia on a globe

In total Max Havelaar is translated into more than 50 languages (including Estonian).

3. Amsterdam Tulip Museum

The day is getting later and it’s time to move on to the lighter topics. Feeling that after sorting out the invention of film, Czechoslovakia surrealism and the desolation of colonialism in Indonesia I have fully earned a right to turn to a lighter, not to say frivolous topics. My next stop is flowers. Only a few blocks away is the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and right next to it the Cheese Museum.

The Amsterdam Tulip Museum entrance

With larger museums, the souvenir shop can feel like an afterthought to the main attraction. With smaller museums in Amsterdam, it can be reversed. There is a trend of boutique museums where specialized (theme) shops have a museum attached to it.

Tulip vase in The Amsterdam Tulip Museum with red tulips

Stepping into the shop that is the entrance to the Tulip museum is a feast for nose and eyes. Buckets and buckets of flowers, rows of brown paper bags labelled with name and info about the bulge variety.

In the back is a revolving gate that takes me to the actual museum. Six step program takes me through the history of tulips.

Factoids About the History of Tulips and the Netherland

  • Tulips originate from Himalaya and they came to Europe along the Silk Road using humans as carriers.
  • The first heyday of tulips was actually during the Ottoman empire. Turks gave the flower its name (due to its appearance resembling a turban) and considered it a really fancy flower.
  • Rich people in Ottoman empire organized huge parties to celebrate the time of tulips blossoming.
  • They used turtles as walking candlesticks to light the garden parties.
  • In modern days Netherland tulip farms only keep tulips fields in bloom only for a week in early spring. Then it’s off with the heads,  as the blooms are cut off to make the plant form a strong bulb.
  • The chopped of tulip blooms are fed to cows. Apparently, cows eat the red petals first.
  • The tulips in the Netherlands usually bloom in March.
  • The largest economic crash in the Netherlands history was directly involved with the tulips.

Apparently, the relationship between tulips and people of the Netherlands can be considered to be symbiotic. Tulips are conquering the world form slopes of Himalaya, along the silk road, through the Ottoman empire to the Netherlands and from here all over the world. In return, humans can make some money with them.

4. Amsterdam Cheese Museum

Next to the Tulip Museum is the other shop-museum that has a completely free entrance to all, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. They offer completely different, yet easily as enticing fragrance experience. The shelves are stacked with cheeses of various sizes and the best part – they all have a sampling bowl in front of them. Though the pieces are tiny I get to sample probably 15-20 variety of cheese.

Amsterdam Cheese Museum

Say Cheese!

Stairs in the back take you to the museum room in the basement. The theme is a general technique from milk to ageing the cheese with occasional references to the company usually in footnotes. The room is filled with a collection of cheese making tools through history are properly labelled and have a photo material to accompany and illustrate the use.

Amsterdam Cheese Museum

In the back is a modern touch – a set of milk-farmers clothing to pose for a photo that you can have sent to your email to feel embarrassed about it later and/or brag to make your friends envious in social media about your trip to Amsterdam.

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It’s almost seven when I leave the cheese shop-museum-shop …oh nevermind. It’s five kilometres bike ride back home, the full moon is rising above roofs and reflecting in the surface of Amstel river. Humming “Stary, Stary night …” I pedal along the canals and Amstel and feel that the mood is perfectly set for the Van Gogh museum tomorrow.

*I was a guest of the I Amsterdam for this part of my visit to Amsterdam. I’m proud to be an honest and transparent blogger, so all opinions expressed on ALIML are my own.