Today is my second day in London, England. I've just spent two days in Amsterdam, Holland, for which I attempted to node a quick daylog yesterday but was thwarted by the timer on the internet terminal in Schiphol Airport ticking off the end of my time before I finished and pressed "sumbit".
It's the second week of my three week holiday and it's been a good time away from work. I've already spent some time in Singapore, some time home with parents in Kluang (Malaysia) and now am far far away from both work and home.
Amsterdam was good. I managed to visit the Rijksmuseum (Rijsmuseum?) which is a must see for anyone wishing to see some really good paintings, some examples of Dutch history and some interesting things including a good 'treasury exhibit' full of expensive stuff -- all under the same roof. A must see are the Rembrandts, especially his Nightwatch, a wall filling exceptional piece which is the pride of that museum. Vermeer's Milkmaid was missing and was apparently in London while I was there - (I shall find it!). I found the van Gogh museum to be a bit disappointing. The guy was good but somehow I don't appreciate the big strokes as much as the Rembrandts ... and he did go mad at the end of his career after all...
The red light district was also interesting - prostitutes standing in windows facing the streets showing off their assets, trying to entice potential customers. There were all sorts - black, white, blonde, brunette, Asian, fat, slim, voluptuous, slim, you name it, there was probably one like that. There were also many sex show places and sex shops but the funniest was one 'Casa Rosso' place where there was a giant penis with rotating balls (suspended by water) in front of the shop.
Also got to see the flower market, the other street market, the canals and the architecture of old Amsterdam. Quite interesting. The most efficient form of travel there must be on bicycle. Cars are limited by the small width of the streets and the many one way streets around the canals. Taxis are surprisingly allowed to go where other cars are not allowed, including on the tram tracks and on the wrong way through one way streets.
Today I saw the British Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Natural History Museum was boring. Well, it probably would have been really fun for a 10 year old but I knew most of the stuff anyway. The most interesting bit of that museum for me was the exhibit on minerals. They have a really impressive collection of stones, gems, rocks of all sorts filling up many many cabinets in a rather large room. There was also an interesting corridor full of stuffed birds (including extinct dodos) and dissections of interesting birds. Quite interesting to see, for example, the ridiculously long plumes of a bird of paradise that extend from its head to beyond its tail and which, presumably, has no function other than to attract mates.
The Victoria and Albert Museum was more interesting. There was a room full of Raphaels! Big cartoons of biblical scenes, each probably more than 20m x 5m and all great to look at. Like the Rembrandts in Amsterdam, the Raphaels take you in and you keep on seeing more detail the longer you stare at them ... and you keep on seeing more things as you go up close. There was also an interesting exhibit of glass sculptures by some contemporary artist which included an amazing two-three storey structure in the courtyard which looks like many pieces of red, yellow and orange glass long twisted pieces tied together in a vertical column. It must look wonderful at night if it's lighted from within, which I'm sure it is.
I am not doing the V&A museum justice by just the above paragraph but will probably have to leave it at that. My day out ended with sitting in deck chairs in Hyde Park by the lake, which was a thorougly restful way to end a long day.
The plan tomorrow is to visit the National Gallery (got to find that Vermeer!), Tate Gallery and Trafalgar Square (and all the nearby famous structures). A visit to the Millenium Eye is planned too but that might take place later this week.
Good day from London!