From a Temple to the Moon

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

He Hua Temple – Fo Guang Shan

We found ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to find in Amsterdam.

Located in Chinatown, the He Hua Temple is a hidden gem among the skinny streets that pretty much all look the same.

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Established in 2000

We only went in for about ten minutes – ten peaceful minutes. The incense relaxed our minds as we soaked up information like the reasons why this temple was built in the Netherlands:

  • To spread the Buddhist concepts, also by means of cultural exchanges and activities;
  • To help to develop talents, skills and good qualities of people by means of good education;
  • To stimulate positive developments in society by means of charity projects;
  • To purify heart and soul of all people by giving them the opportunity of learning to practice Buddhism.
Cited from http://ibps.nl/he-hua-temple/

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Amsterdam Noord

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To get to Amsterdam Noord (North), one must take a free ferry by Central Station to cross the itty-bit of water that rests between the two land masses. Why is there no bridge? According to Anthony Bourdain’s tour guide in the Amsterdam episode of The Layover, he thinks “they” used to ship the crazy people and criminals over there hundreds of years ago. I guess they didn’t want them coming back…who knows. I admit the change in transportation was quite refreshing and welcomed by our aching feet.

By now I’ve read many blogs and tourist sites – only some of which mention Amsterdam Noord. Though we’ve only experienced two of its main attractions, I already recommend taking a day trip to see what it has to offer.

A’DAM Lookout

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In order to get to the top of the Lookout, the price of regular admission is‎ €12.50. I promise it’s well worth it if you like a gorgeous view. Included in your ticket is a free photo, like this one:

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The building features a sky deck, Europe’s tallest swing on the sky deck, and an indoor lookout spot which doubles as a bar. Oh yeah, there’s a Gibson throne, too 🎸👑

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Here’s some pics from the sky deck:

More shots from the indoors where it was warm:

Nestled on the opposite side of the bar were TVs and headphones full of info about Amsterdam. Here’s what I found to be the coolest tidbits:

Fun facts about Amsterdam & The Netherlands

  • There are more bikes than people.
  • 10,000 bikes are fished out of the canals a year.
  • As one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s home to over 175 nationalities.
  • Holland was the first nation to legalize gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

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Perhaps the most incredible part of the city is the way the sun sets over it.

Eye Film Museum

When the sky grew dark, we headed over to the A’DAM Lookout’s next-door neighbor, the Eye Film Museum. There was no exhibition at the time, but we were able to experience the bottom level for a few hours where we indulged ourselves with some fun facts about – you guessed it – film!

Flipbook

You can make your own if you want to pay like €6 for it – we didn’t.

Artifacts

The artifacts on display represent the evolution of film – from stereoscopy to a zoetrope to a Mitchell to an iPhone 3 (which was the first smartphone to be able to record a quality video) and all that’s in-between.

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Fun fact: George Lucas used a Mitchell VistaVision High Speed #1 to film Star Wars.

360°

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This is blurry but whatevs.

I was really hoping to see some 360 videos in here, but instead found a bunch of clips from monumental films that showcased the development of genres and styles of different cultures. Still cool.

Speaking of 360, I will have a VR video for you folks soon 😉

Private, Comfy Pods

There are little nooks where you can sit down and watch some of the most famous Dutch films of all time, which range from 10 minutes to an hour in length. We chose Zoo by Bert Haanstra (1962) – a silent film that still managed to make us giggle through a subtle string of events.

The Green Screen

Last but not least, there was a green screen that we had waaay too much fun with. See for yourself!

We used the green screen until the museum closed at 7 pm because that’s how much fun we were having.

After heading home, we slumped in our seats and didn’t move for seven hours. There’s no better way to end an adventurous day than brain-dumping it into a blog post until 3 am!

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Are there any views that leave you in awe? Movies that move you more than others? Comment below to share them with us! We’re always looking for recommendations 🙂

Learn Something New, Why Dontcha?

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

Feeling tired of our concrete surroundings, we were happy and relieved to finally see what Vondelpark is all about.

A Vondelightful Walk In the Park

I needed this fresh air away from the stink of cigarettes and greasy food. It was chilly, but that’s something you learn to brave through quickly. Bundle up, shut up, and explore.

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Peep the Rijksmuseum in the background!

We Van Went to the Van Gogh Museum

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I really enjoyed this museum. It made me feel stupid for not having known more about one of the most famous artists of all time. Am I the only one who was unclear about the whole cutting-off-ear-and-dying-two-years later thing? Let me break some things down for you.

Vincent’s Thug Life

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Here’s how the major events went down:

  • 1880Age 27: Decided to ditch mining to become an artist.
  • 1888 – Age 35: Started to go crazy and cut his ear off.
  • 1890Age 37: Shot himself in the chest with a pistol. Died two days later.

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If you’re like me, you’re probably shocked at how quickly his fate turned from hopeful to hopeless. Like…wait a minute. I thought he was so eager for life and success, right? So what made him go from motivated painter to someone medicated by the paint brush in just 10 years?

The Letters

Aside from the progression of his work, his letters allow you to peek inside his brain and feel what he was experiencing throughout his life. His attitude reads like a somber appreciation for the simple things – he communicated his preference for bare branches and mute meadows over the complex city life. And when he began to feel threatened by his uncontrollable thoughts, we grieved the demise of his self-control as if he were our friend.

The Truth Behind How He Became Successful

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Theo van Gogh

I want to include a few other things that shocked me that I didn’t know before:

  • Vincent lived off a monthly allowance from his brother, Theo – an art dealer – for the 10 years he was an artist.
  • Vincent died before he flourished.
  • Theo was determined to honor Vincent when he died, but Theo died 6 months after Vincent.
  • Theo’s wife Jo and son Willem are responsible Vincent becoming mega-famous.

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Heavy Hearts and Hungry Tummies

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The museum left an impression on us as we walked back to our apartment. We were flustered and therefore missed an opportunity to experiment with Dutch cuisine. We chose the barestaurant down the street from our apartment, and we were disappointed to find it had mostly American food as well as endless amounts of American sport’s decor.

I caved and ordered chicken wings. Sorry guys, no pix of them beeeecause what a terrible choice that was! I mean, they weren’t bad…they just weren’t J. Timothy’s 😫💔😢💭🍗

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So, I solemnly swear to order something Dutch the next time we eat something other than the groceries we already bought. Btw, let me give a shoutout to arguably the BEST chocolate milk I might ever have in my lifetime, Chocomel 👏🏼  Screw you and thank you for being so addicting.

I’ll catch you guys up on the next museum and adventurous activity in the next post.

For now,

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Ever been to the Van Gogh Museum? Have a favorite art piece you’d like to share with us? Tell us by commenting below!

We Had a Supperb Weekend

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

We’re covering more and more of the city each day.

It’s been a few days since we’ve done these things so I promise to be better about keeping up with this blog. These pictures below will do a lot of the talking for me, so feel free to skip the sap, scroll through them, and then head onto the next post.

The Rijksmuseum

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Look at this thing! This giant wonderland was founded in 1800 and is rich with art and history – because the two go hand in hand (duh). I was in awe with the size of the museum and its collection, and here I’ll share with you some pieces that caught my eye.

A Few of My Favorijks Things

The main attraction:
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The Night Watch, Rembrandt, 1642

Three fun facts about The Night Watch:

  • The artist – Rembrandt – is a famous Dutch artist and this is his most popular painting.
  • The figures in Rembrandt Square were created in memory of his 400th birthday.
  • It’s the centerpiece of the Rijksmuseum.
The biggest painting in the museum:
Ironically, I don’t know how to get this video to shrink.
Jan Willem Pieneman, The Battle of Waterloo, 1824
A pretty outdoorsy landscape:
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Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines, Henrik Voogd, 1807
Ugh…I found Herbert (our mouse, who we saw yesterday):
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Mouse with a Candle Stump and a Nut, Joris Hoefnagel, 1594
And here’s the most beautiful thing I saw in the entire museum…my reflection: 😉
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Selfie in a Mirror, Shannon McCormick, 2017

I’m extremely glad we checked this place out first. Through the magnificent storytelling of visuals and guides, I’m beginning to further understand this place we chose to venture off to and the history that made it what it is today.

After seeing the attempts to capture Holland’s beautiful violet skies, it was cool to get a glimpse of the magic that night:
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Every canal is picture-worthy.

Right behind the Rijksmuseum is the ever-so-famous I amsterdam sign. Would we have really gone to Amsterdam if we didn’t take this tourist pic?

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The Irish girl who took this could’ve zoomed in a bit.

Dinner in Style

To round out our productive day, Shan and experienced a lovely, chic wine-and-dine thanks to one of our dearest friends, Frank (@frankroche, not the kitty Frank 🐱) – it’s called Supperclub, where we ate and partied (and looked good) in bed.

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When we first got there, the hostess covered our phone cameras with stickers and warned us not to use our phones at all. There were even characters crawling around with flashlights making sure we were following the rule. Funny enough, we met some really cool people on both sides of our setup and enjoyed the company around us. Europeans are so interesting, hah. We lived large with the cuisine and cocktails, and we enjoyed entertainment that was meticulously bursting with unsaid messages. Our dinner turned into dancing and the night disappeared before we knew it. Thank you Frank!

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Needless to say we spent the next day recovering – until Monday when we went back to the Museum Quarter for more.

Stay tuned to see which museums we hit up next!

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Any suggestions on what Shan and I should do next? We’re interested in your recommendations! While you’re at it, feel free to share some of your own experiences by leaving a comment. 🙂  Subscribe to get notified the next time a post is published!