It didn’t take us long to drive down to Amsterdam and to ‘Gaasper camping” an enormous campsite with 350 pitches and whhich was extremely well run.
We were near an area of thousands of highish rise appartments where a proportion of the 350,00 Surinamese descended population lived.
Suriname was part of the Netherlands kingdom until 1975 when mass migration took place with Surinamese moving to the Netherlands looking for better living conditions. Apparently most of the people have Dutch passports and have integrated into Dutch society.

It was only a 7minute walk to the metro station and about 25minutes into the centre of Amsterdam. There was much construction of units and a lot of reconstruction underway in the city which was full of tourists. First we went to the ‘Bloemenmarkt’ which was for me a disappointment as apart from many tulip and other floral bulbs for sale they had only one very poor fresh flower stall. We did an hour’s boat trip around the canals and got our bearings and then did a three hour free walking tour which we find to be the best way of seeing any city. Tijs was an excellent guide for the 12 of us on the tour and we got our exercise as it was done at a good clip to get around much of the inner city. We had to constantly dodge bikes,cars and other tourists and we crossed over a few of the 1000 bridges in the city. He showed us the Desso 40metre carpet runner in the Schutter museum with each patch representing the 179 nationalities living in Amsterdam and of course the red light district with the girls in the windows as well as part of the University which was previously the headquarters for the Dutch East India Company. He told us that Dutch society was a very tolerant one however that it was more tolerant years ago and not so much today.

It was cool in the shade but warm in the sun and we had a mostly blue sky for the whole day.
There were hundreds of legal boats moored in the canals with electricity and water supplied but the water was a dirty brown colour everywhere. Not what I would like to wake up to in the morning.

Rain was forecast for the afternoon the next day so we went into the city and walked a good half hour and found “Bocca” coffee bar which had been recommended to us. There were several Aussies working there and the coffee was great. From there we walked to the vast ‘Vondelpark’ and had our picnic lunch before heading nearby to the ‘Van Gogh’ museum. We had luckily bought our tickets online as there were hundreds of people lined up waiting to buy them. The 3 floors covered a lot of what Van Gogh had sketched and painted and there was much information about the man,his life and his paintings. We learnt a lot that we didn’t know about him.
We spent a good three hours there before setting out in the rain to Mazzo restaurant to meet a friend Claudine, a dutch lady who we had met in India.
It was still raining when we left so we caught a tram back to the central station and the metro back to ‘Gaasperplas’ station near the camping ground. We could buy 24/48 or 72hour transport passes from the camping ground and although the metro lines were quite limited, the bus and tram system was excellent.

Wednesday was spring clean the van day in preparation for our friends who will join us in ten days time and the weather was kind to us.
Back to the city on Thursday to the Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt van Rijn’s works and other Dutch masters – a wonderful building and museum. A lot of artifacts were from the Dutch East Indies and wonderfully intact wooden panelling and furniture from an Amsterdam house.
A whole room was dedicated to doll’s houses which were not for children but for wealthy ladies who wanted to show what was contained in their homes or what they wished for, for their homes. The craftmanship was amazing especially given the complexity of the minute items. We got there before 9am so managed to get around a couple of floors in about 3 hours before the masses arrived, again long queues for tickets. I don’t know why more people didn’t buy tickets online to avoid standing in a queue for hours

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