My last day in Amsterdam was spent walking all over the city, trying to visit as many sights as possible. I even found myself in the infamous Red Light District, but that wasn't until later in the day.
I started with breakfast at the Esprit Cafe.
Yes, Esprit, as in the clothing company, has a very nice cafe right in the middle of Spuistratt. As a teenager, Esprit was a brand that I loved, but their presence seems to have disappeared over the years. Gone from all of the malls I frequent. Seeing them in Amsterdam, I assumed that they were a European brand, but nope, Esprit is Californian. My home state! Mind blown. The name always seemed foreign and their advertising made me think Europe.
The Esprit Cafe was adorable and empty. Amsterdam is a city that stays up late and I found it tough to find breakfast options. I was the only person breakfasting at the Esprit Cafe when they opened at 10am.
My latte and "Red Riding Hood" yogurt were delicious.
After fortification, I walked to the Rembrandt House Museum.
Rembrandt lived and worked in this house for over twenty years. The admission was thirteen euros and included a self-guided audio tour. Docents were also positioned throughout the house to answer additional questions and to give art demonstrations. I love art museums and I love Historical sites: the Rembrandt House Museum was the best of both worlds.
One of my favorite parts of the museum was Rembrandt's curiosities room, filled with sculptures, bones, taxidermied animals, and other artifacts from his travels. These objects served as reference materials and inspiration for his art. I liked this room, because it was unexpected and so different from the other rooms of the house, which were filled with his paintings. This room was more in line with a natural history museum.
The Rembrandt House Museum is a must-do for art lovers. It's small and only takes a few hours to tour. I headed to my next stop, The Amsterdam Museum, but very quickly, ended up completely lost. I had forgotten my map and the data on cell was already over the limit, so I blissfully wandered around until I figured things out. This hour-ish of being lost, was one of the highlights of my trip. I was off-the-tourist path, in eclectic neighborhoods with cute parks and quirky shops. I took pictures and explored.
Eventually, I ended up near the main train station in a neighborhood that was familiar. I wasn't super close to the Amsterdam Museum and I was hungry, so I tried Toastable, a sandwich/smoothie chain that I had seen around town.
I bought a grilled cheese with spinach sandwich and a freshly made strawberry smoothie. I picked a counter seat in front of a large window.
The window faced an alley, but also had a partial view of the street. This was a street that I had walked up and down nearly every day of the trip. It had a church directly across from Toastables. I guess I had always looked at the church, because I never noticed that across from that church, next to Toastables, in my full view as I ate lunch, was this...
I did a double take, a triple take, and I tried to make sense of the sign on the window.
Yep, I was looking at part of the Red Light District.
As I ate my lunch, I caught glimpses of the woman working inside as she let men in and out of her establishment. I saw one very nervous, older gentleman, circle the block three times, before finally approaching the door. In the time it took me to eat, I witnessed three customers, and even had the prostitute give me a friendly wave and smile, when she caught me gawking. I waved back of course, sandwich in hand.
I didn't purposefully seek out or avoid the Red Light District during my stay, so when I finally saw it, it was just funny. Funny that it was so out in the open, next to a grilled cheese shop. Amsterdam was a full of surprises.
Late in the day, I made it to the Amsterdam Museum.
Amsterdam has so many amazing art museums, but it was refreshing to visit a history museum and learn about the city that I had spent the last week touring. I wish that I had done this museum on the first day of my visit, it would have given me a better foundation for touring the city and appreciating its diversity. This would be a great museum if you have kids, as there were many interactive elements.
I left the Amsterdam Museum with the intention of squeezing in one more stop: The Katten Kabinet aka AN ENTIRE MUSEUM DEDICATED TO CAT ART! Seriously, the Katten Kabinet had my name written all over it, and I'm certain, that had I visited, it would have been my favorite thing about Amsterdam.
A CAT MUSEUM!
Armed with a map that a docent at the Amsterdam Museum gave me, including her drawn instructions for getting to the Katten Kabinet (a fellow cat lover, she understood me), I set out. I had just made it to the flower market, when it started pouring rain. I could see lightening zig-zag across the sky and heard thunder that was positively nerve rattling. The streets completely emptied and I made a bee-line for my hotel, which was about five minutes away. By the time I walked into the lobby, the map had turned to pulp, and I looked like I had just tripped into a canal and swam home. By the time the rain let up, the museum was closed.
Katten Kabinet, I'll be back!