Sunday, June 29, 2014

Two museums and the flower market in 16,008 steps

That's over eleven kilometres. Phew!

We didn't have enough time at the Tropenmuseum yesterday so we went back to do the rest this morning. Walked there, of course. It didn't seem far.

It is a fantastic museum, beautiful building, fabulous displays. Yesterday we did the top floor, with Suriname, Morrocco, Egypt, much more. It isn't just displays in cases. In Egypt we sat in a retro café and watched a TV over the bar, with Umm Kulthum singing to us. There were musical instruments in cases, and you could sit in front of the case with earphones on, press an image of the instrument on the screen panel, and hear a bit about the instrument and hear what it sounds like. There was a spice shop and the front of the case was perforated to allow the rich smell through. There was a fabric shop. So much more, so exotic. Today we did the first floor. We looked at wonderful displays of artefacts from New Guinea, India, Indonesia and more. I noted a description of some clothing worn by women in a remote part of the Indus. The sign said that normally these clothes would never be seen, that the wearers lived indoors all their lives. I felt very lucky and very worldly, to be able to see so much of the lives of other people in so many different countries. There were wonderful fabrics on panels that rolled out when you pressed a button, along with information. One lovely display of an Indian temple included about eight clay horses about two feet high, richly decorated. Our electronic guide told us what they were for, and about the making and transport of these very horses. We found the section for kids, we found the museum shop. No, we didn't buy anything. We have enough stuff already!

We walked from there to the flower market. Seeing all those tulip bulbs made me think of those exhibits in the Museum of Dutch Resistance, where for a while that was all they had to eat. But the displays of flowers were lovely. Perhaps not the best time of year - baskets full of bulbs aren't exactly picturesque. But there was plenty to look at. There were tacky souvenir shops there too. Michael has been looking for sticky labels - he decorates his suitcase with them. He looked, and did not find. "Ask!" I suggested. Blokes apparently cannot do that so I asked and was pointed to exactly what he was looking for. Success.

From there we walked quite a way to Electric Ladyland: the first Fluorescent Museum of Amsterdam. What a great museum this is. You walk into a cluttered room, with rather garish clutter. Lurid blue and yellow and red paintings, large coloured disks, strange stalactites and stalagmites. There was a group of five young American lads already putting on their foam slippers for the adventure downstairs. But first we were told to hold up our Visa cards, passports, driver's licenses and banknotes to a black light overhead. Wow! Suddenly all this fluorescent stuff lit up! All designed as security measures, but who knew?

Then came the descent to the museum below, a ladder rather than steps. Alas, Michael deemed it beyond him, so I was sent without him.

Nick the proprietor is a would-be relic of the sixties psychedelic era. Would-be, because he is actually too young to have experienced it personally. He was born ten years too late, he mourned. He missed Jimi Hendrix, man. Cognoscenti will recognise Electric Ladyland as Jimi's last album. Somewhere in his New Jersey childhood Nick saw one of those black-light disco posters and was totally hooked. He began researching, and his passion grew. He says he used to go out at night, creeping around his neighbours' back yards with his black light, searching for fluorescent rocks. He found lots of them. He started grinding up rocks to make his own paint, and he has used that to create the psychedelic cave you see in the photos. He has even made his own tattoo ink, so he himself glows in the black light.

He knew an amazing amount and was happy to tell us. He had a collection of art works, pictures and sculptures, which had been made by other enthusiasts using particles, tweezers, and glue. I didn't know that fluorescence occurs under both ultraviolet and short wave light. Things can be one colour under one light, but entirely different under the other. He demonstrated. Wow! Some of the pictures, which looked dull and grey under daylight, were different under the two different lights, allowing one picture to be night/day, or summer/autumn. If you check out Trip Advisor there are lots of pictures. His website is also well worth looking at. Then we looked at more banknotes and stamps, even coins, and one of the lads had his US passport which was filled with different colours and symbols, depending on which light was used. If you will forgive me, the whole experience was most illuminating!

Staggering out into the sunlight we had trouble re-adjusting to reality. It was very trippy.

We thought we would check out the supermarket rumoured to be at Centraal, so off we walked. Indeed there is an Albert Heijn selling lots of packaged foods. We shall shop there for some dinner to take on our overnight train to Prague on Monday. Then we walked past our apartment (despite being seriously weary at this stage, we'd done a lot of walking) to the cake shop for our reward. We both ordered one of the very light cheesecake, and a slice of pizza for later on. Once we sit, we are not going to want to move again. Our creakers are creaking.



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