Sunday, February 14, 2010

Amsterdam Five: Holidays must end as you know

Six weeks later, and I am finally finishing my series about our trip to Amsterdam. Our last day actually included some real activity, since our plane for Toulouse didn't leave until 8:15 pm.

After enjoying the hotel buffet breakfast together -- the only time on the trip both girls managed to be up in time to take advantage of it -- we packed our bags, stored them at the hotel, and walked through the brisk cold to the Katten Kabinet, or Cat Cabinet.

I had really been looking forward to what sounded like a deliciously off-beat site: a huge house on the Herengracht dedicated to the memory of a cat.

"The Cat Cabinet was founded in commemoration of the red and frisky Tom Cat John Pierpont Morgan, the life-long companion and buddy of the museum's founder, Bob Meijer," explains the rudimentary website. For information, the cat lived from 1966-1983.

It was a fun and funky visit, but I expected a little more as far as feline-related works of art. We were also disappointed that much of the house was closed off to visitors. Let's just say we were expecting a little more, but definitely enjoyed the opportunity to pet some of the kitty residents that roam freely through the mansion:

Our next stop was another smaller museum, this one exhbiting handbags and purses. After the somewhat underwhelming Kat Kabinet, we weren't sure what to expect from the Tassenmuseum Hendrikj.

Before the visit, we were lured into the lovely coffee shop:

Lovely, cozy coffee shops such as this one were one of our favorite features in Amsterdam:

After our refreshments, we visited the museum which, to our delight, holds an astounding and well-curated collection of bags, wallets and luggage throughout the ages. I don't have any photos to share of this museum, but the website provides a good idea of what is on display.

All good things must come to an end, and after the handbag museum, we realized we were down to a few hours before having to walk back to the hotel and take the taxi to the airport.

It was about 4pm, the perfect time to eat a lunch/dinner/whatever in the city. We were lucky enough to stumble upon the Get toGether restaurant, a rather chic eatery connected to The Albus Grand Hotel:

Gazing in from the street, we couldn't quite believe the reasonable prices on the lunch menu. This light meal was perhaps the closest we got to typically Dutch restaurant food: delicious soups and sandwiches at a price that seemed unbelievable for a European capital.

For example, I savored the "creamy spinach soup with goat’s cheese and pieces of smoked chicken," a meal in itself, for only 4,50 euros.

I don't really want to go into detail about what followed: the last-minute souvenir shopping, the taxi trip to the airport, Starbucks in Schipol.

All of that went well, but it's not what I will recall years from now.

"Holidays must end as you know/All is memory taken home with me" (Nathalie Merchant)


spacedlaw said...

I love Katten Kabinet.
There are plenty of nice cafes and eateries in Amsterdam, you could not visit them all.

Betty C. said...

spaced -- We were so taken by the many cafés with great atmosphere, great prices (compared to Paris or even Rodez!) and convenient opening hours. I was hoping for that, but the French guidebooks had been a little critical of eating in Amsterdam! Wouldn't you know it...

We really liked Katten Kabinet too, just wished there had been a little more of it to see.

Kristin said...

Sounds like a lot of fun!

Laura in Paris said...

My younger daughter lived in Amsterdam for over two years. I loved visiting her and wandering in the city. I was very sad when she left the Netherlands - though she left with a brand new Dutch husband!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had good fun. The kitty place is too funny. I always enjoy Amsterdam whenever I go.

meredith said...

I hope I get there one day soon. I only know the airport and the mad dashes I've done through there.

Paulita said...

Thanks for sharing Amsterdam. My husband recently said he'd like to visit. I haven't been there since my first trip to Europe and my impression was that it was kind of grimy. Maybe that was just the ugly American in me on my first stop in Europe. I'd love to go back to give it another try. The places you visited look fab.

French Shelter said...

Holy Crap! I, too, am with an Averyonaise!! Go 12!!

We live in 82, much to his chagrin.

It's great that an American is all the way over there...I hope you're liking the snow!


Betty C. said...

French Shelter -- I live in Aveyron, but my French husband is NOT Aveyronnais. Therein lies a huge difference. We're both more or less "estrangers" but feel that department 12 has adopted us quite nicely...

Betty C. said...

Paulita -- Thanks for dropping by my blog. I don't know when your visit to Amsterdam was, but apparently, from what I read, it was a bit grimy at one point, maybe in the 70s/80s? We of course avoided the red light district which may still be grimy! All of the parts we went to were charming. I think it's one-of-a-kind in Europe, really. I can't compare it to any other city.