I get my fill of art when Bachan visits London. I see her energized by our ventures to local and major art exhibitions. Her preference is modern art, but she’ll muse over the masters, too. For her annual October visit, we started at the Barbican for their Cabaret exhibit, and then had afternoon tea in their conservatory. On a rainy Sunday, we trekked out to a craft fair featuring Japanese Shibori and textiles. The artist in my mom was even enthused when we selected a handful of house plants to decorate our flat.
I sandwich in a now-customary mini vacation during her visits to London. I knew I had to perfect place to feed her artistic imagination. Amsterdam boasts a MuseumKwartier that could fill at least a week of museum wanderlust. We stayed across the street from the quad so we could walk over whenever suited.
We arrived on the Eurostar and ate lunch at Foodhallen. It’s an easy space for groups to find a meal, and it’s situated in the same building as an up and coming artist shop. The shop features a tattoo parlor for store bought items. You ‘tattoo’ directly onto the cover of a journal, mug, glasses case, t-shirt, etc. We skipped the ‘ink’ but it’s an idea I hadn’t seen before. We spent the remainder of the afternoon walking the canal rings to give my mom a sense of the city, and to give her some practice crossing the streets between the infamous bike and tram lanes.
For me, the first sight to see has to be the Anne Frank House. I always book tickets for the first entry in the morning to see the space as empty as possible. My mom admitted she wasn’t sure she wanted to start the trip with such a heartbreaking exhibit but was ultimately glad she did. Saya also did very well in the small and narrow annex.
From the Anne Frank House, you can wander the nine streets, and take yourself to stroopwaffles at Lanskroon bakery. I led us towards the sandwich place that Ev suggested to get burgers, but we were distracted by the line outside the soup place across the street: Soup en Zo – Spiegel. It was a better lunch option as my mom was beginning to feel a bit under the weather. We took our soups back to our hotel and had a much a needed siesta.
That Moco Museum was the perfect sized space for an afternoon visit. The museum is dedicated to Banksy, Kusama, and other modern artists who are becoming icons in their own right. The elements of social justice intertwined with cartoons and sculpture made use giddy to discuss the artists long after we left the exhibit.
De Pijp neighborhood is on the other side of the MuseumKwartier but I can see how tourists miss heading in that direction because they’re pulled back into the canal rings. I’m glad we ventured out to find a local spot called The Seafood Bar. It was a relaxing space for an early dinner, nothing frilly, and just basic good eats. Saya was even lulled to sleep in the chill atmosphere!
It’s pretty clear that my mom was under the weather on our last full day in Amsterdam. We took it easy and only went to the largest museum in Amsterdam: The Rijksmusem!? I booked a tour so that we could see one section of the museum comparing Rembrandt and Velazquez. This was my plot so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed like my previous self in the Prado and the Lourve. We took a rainy walk back to De Pijp to have an early dinner at the Spaghetteria before tucking ourselves into bed.
On the final morning, we hit the Stedelijk Museum for modern Japanese poster art. As we waited for the museum to open, a small boy took an interest in Saya and kept poking his head into the pram. This entertained us until we were able to enter the museum. The posters were fun, and some we connected with right away: like the one with all the tree kanji creating a ‘forest’, or the global warming poster with a giraffe and the continents as her spots. We wanted to spend more time here but had to catch the Eurostar back to London in the early afternoon.
Though we know that Saya is Bachan’s muse when she visits London, the museums of Amsterdam didn’t hurt one bit when it came to a little inspiration. My mom will tuck away these moments of inspiration to feature later in a new block print, a New Years poem, or a fun outfit for Saya when she returns next.
Lanskroon bakery for stroopwaffles
Soup en Zo – Spiegel for soups, salads, and breads
The 9 Streets for window (or real) shopping
De Pijp neighborhood for The Seafood Bar or Spaghetteria