Festival of Lights

You may be thinking that it is a little late to post about Hanukkah but it is the right time for the Amsterdam Festival of Lights. Streets and buildings are lit up for the holidays. There are also a bunch of popup stalls with holiday goodies: oliebollen, wafels, stroopwafels, cheese, worst and sausages, beer and more. Below are some of my favorite shots from around the city.

Train station in Amsterdam
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Around the holidays pop-up stalls filled with holiday goodies line the street.
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Lights are strung between buildings across the street from each other. This is an interesting holiday message (yes this means the same thing in Dutch as it does in English).
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Even the coffee shops get into the holiday spirit.
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Ok, so this isn’t officially part of the Festival of Lights but there are lights on it so I am counting it. Oliebollen are similar to fried donuts.
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Holiday In Amsterdam (Part 2)

Here is the promised post about the palace. Sorry about the delay, we currently have no Internet and I am posting this from the library.

The palace was originally built as a town hall where the king heard complaints from the citizens and where the tax and treasury offices were located. Now the palace is used mostly for tours and official functions. Most of the offices have been converted into guest rooms that are still used by visiting officials. This palace is one of 3 available to the Dutch King, Willem-Alexander, and his family. The palace is closed to the public when the Royals are in residence.

This is the Citizen’s Hall (and where the tour of the palace begins). Maps of the earth and stars adorn the floor. The statue of Atlas in the back is the focal point when you enter the chamber. The chandeliers used to house gas lamps but they have since upgraded to electric bulbs.
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Close up of one of the maps on the floor.
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Former throne room. Disputes were heard here and marriages that could not be performed in a church took place here.
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Chandeliers in the throne room.
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Sconce in the throne room.
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Bust of Louis Napoleon
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A smaller room off of the throne room.
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Treasury extraordinaire office converted into a guest room.
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Secretary’s office.
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Treasury ordinaire office converted into a guest chamber.
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Small office/meeting room.
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Ceiling painting.
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One of the many ornate clocks in the palace.
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Another meeting room.
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Panoramic of another meeting room.
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Supports for the chandelier.
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Chandelier detail.
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Meeting room.
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If you are visiting Amsterdam you can visit the palace, for more information on tours (or just more information on the palace check out: Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam. The palace is pretty close to the train station so it is
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Holiday in Amsterdam (part 1)

This weekend Mike and I decided to hang out in Amsterdam. We decided to take it slow and only hit a few places. As soon as we left the station the holiday spirit was everywhere.

holiday street scene

Our first stop was for the best fries in Amsterdam: Vlaams Fritehuis. I recommend the mayonnaise or the speciaal curry (mayonnaise and curry ketchup topped with raw onions).

Then we were thirsty so we swung by this place: Heineken

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logos

Here is where the brewing occurs:
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the process

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water and barley

Bet you didn’t know Heineken is still delivered by horse and cart. The horses are well taken care of and even get a vacation time (in the country).
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blacklight brew

At the end of the tour you get to try some beer. Yes, this “bar” is part of the tour.
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My beer (yep they give you two).
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Next stop was the Royal Palace also known as Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam. Check out my next post about the palace.

Sinterklaas Arrival

This weekend Sinterklaas arrived* in town by boat with his entourage of Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes). Children dressed as Zwarte Piet or Sinterklaas lined the river and waved flags or balloons to greet the popular holiday figures. The Piets handed out candy to the children. (Mike was a little disappointed that he didn’t get any candy.) After disembarking from his party boat Sinterklaas lead the children in some songs then proceeded to the parade route. The parade looped all around town. Many stores were closed for the festivities and had signs welcoming Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet.

On our way back from the river, Mike and I ran into a celebration in a plaza that included Batman (yes, all the way from Gotham City) and Dominoes Pizza mascots. Guess everyone really does get into the holiday spirit over here.

Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten will be in town until Dec 6 which is Sinterklaas day when they hand out presents. Though apparently from now until the 6th people give each other candy. The stores are full of pepernoten, kruidnoten, chocolate letters, chocolate coins and euros, as well as Sinterklaas shaped chocolates. All in all this is a pretty sweet way to celebrate and I think I may just pick up some chocolate to get into the spirit.

*Mike took a ton of pictures of the event. You can find the photos on his blog.