• Deborah Kade

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband! It is so special to be able to spend your birthday with you in a city we have never been together.

Amsterdam is the capital and most populous municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its status as the capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands, although it is not the seat of the government, which is The Hague.

Amsterdam has a population of 851,373 within the city proper, 1,351,587 in the urban area and 2,410,960 in the Amsterdam metropolitan area. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country.

Amsterdam's name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city's origin around a dam in the river Amstel. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century), a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were planned and built. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam and the 19–20th century Defense Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Since the annexation of the municipality Sloten in 1921 by the municipality of Amsterdam, the oldest historic part of the city lies in Sloten (9th century).

As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centers in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group. The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and seven of the world's 500 largest companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city.

In 2012, Amsterdam was ranked the second best city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and 12th globally on quality of living for environment and infrastructure by Mercer. The city was ranked 3rd in innovation by Australian innovation agency 2thinknow in their Innovation Cities Index 2009. The Amsterdam seaport to this day remains the second in the country, and the fifth largest seaport in Europe.

Famous Amsterdam residents include the diarist Anne Frank, artists Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city center. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam Museum, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 5 million international visitors annually. It is also the world's most multicultural city with at least 177 nationalities represented.

We woke to partly cloudy skies but that changed very quickly to rain and then to partly cloudy skies. This is the view from our room on the 15th floor.

Michael had to work the IBC show this afternoon so we decided to explore the center of the city this morning. We just wanted to learn how to navigate through the city using the trams.

We went to the Basilica of St. Nicholas.

The Basilica of Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Basiliek van de Heilige Nicolaas) is located in the Old Center district of Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is the city's major Catholic church.

Officially, the church was called St. Nicholas inside the Walls, i.e. the oldest part of the Amsterdam defense works. The architect, Adrianus Bleijs(1842-1912) designed the church basing himself on a combination of several revival styles of which Neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance are the most prominent models.

The facade is crowned by two towers with a rose window in between. The center of this window is formed by a bas relief depicting Christ and the four Evangelists, made in the Van den Bossche and Crevels workshop in 1886. A sculpture of the patron saint of both the church and the city of Amsterdam was placed in a niche in the upper section of the gable top. The well-known sculptor Bart van Hove (1850-1914) made the sculpture in 1886. The crossing is articulated by a large octagonal tower with a baroque dome and lantern and crowned by a cross. The basis of the ground plan is the scheme of the classic three-aisled cross-basilica, i.e. a nave, two aisles and a single transept.

The choir is located as is usual, at the end of the nave. In the corners formed by the transept and the nave, two chapels are located, traditionally devoted to Mary and Joseph.

The basilica has a collection of religious murals. Above the high altar is the crown of Maximilian I, which is a symbol seen throughout Amsterdam.

Inside the newly renovated church, a 19th-century Sauer Organ can be found, on which concerts are given and mass is accompanied.

In the 125th year of its existence, St Nicholas' Church elevated to "basilica minor" or basilica. That happened December 8, 2012 during a celebration of Solemn Vespers, attended by ecclesiastical and secular authorities. Mgr. A. Dupuy, Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands, read the document which described the decision.

Michael went to work and I decided to explore a few areas of the city.

Dam Square or Dam is a town square in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Its notable buildings and frequent events make it one of the most well-known and important locations in the city and the country.

Dam Square lies in the historical center of Amsterdam, approximately 750 meters south of the main transportation hub, Centraal Station, at the original location of the dam in the river Amstel. It is roughly rectangular in shape, stretching about 200 meters from west to east and about 100 meters from north to south. It links the streets Damrak and Rokin, which run along the original course of the Amstel River from Centraal Station to Muntplein (Mint Square) and the Munttoren (Mint Tower). The Dam also marks the endpoint of the other well-traveled streets Nieuwendijk, Kalverstraat and Damstraat. A short distance beyond the northeast corner lies the main red-light district: de Wallen.

On the west end of the square is the neoclassical Royal Palace, which served as the city hall from 1655 until its conversion to a royal residence in 1808. Beside it are the 15th-century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

The National Monument, a white stone pillar designed by J.J.P. Oud and erected in 1956 to memorialize the victims of World War II, dominates the opposite side of the square. Also overlooking the plaza are the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky and the upscale department store De Bijenkorf. These various attractions have turned the Dam into a tourist zone.

The Dam derives its name from its original function: a dam on the Amstel River, hence also the name of the city.[1] Built in approximately 1270, the dam formed the first connection between the settlements on the sides of the river.

As the dam was gradually built up to it became wide enough for a town square, which remained the core of the town developing around it. Dam Square as it exists today grew out of what was originally two squares: the actual dam, called Middeldam; and Plaetse, an adjacent plaza to the west. A large fish market arose where ships moored at the dam to load and unload goods. The area became a centre not only of commercial activity but also of the government, as the site of Amsterdam's town hall.

As a market square, the Dam had a weigh house that can be seen in some old paintings. It was demolished in 1808 by order of Louis Bonaparte who, upon taking up residence in the newly converted Royal Palace, complained that his view was obstructed.

The Damrak, or the former mouth of the Amstel River, was partially filled in the 19th century; since then, the Dam square has been surrounded by land on all sides. The new land made room for the Beurs van Zocher, a stock exchange that was built in 1837. After the stock trade moved to the Beurs van Berlage in 1903, the Zocher building was demolished. In its place, De Bijenkorf department store has stood since 1914.

In 1856, a war memorial named De Eendracht (The Unity) was unveiled inside the square before King William III. A stone column with a female statue on top, the monument acquired the nickname "Naatje of the Dam". It was taken down in 1914.

The National Monument on Dam Square (Dutch: Nationaal Monument or Nationaal Monument op de Dam), Amsterdam, is a 1956 World War IImonument in the Netherlands. A national Remembrance of the Dead ceremony is held at the monument every year on May 4th to commemorate the casualties of World War II and subsequent armed conflicts.

The monument was designed by Dutch architect J.J.P. Oud, and the monument's sculptures are by John Rädecker and his sons Han and Jan Willem Rädecker. The reliefs are by the sculptor Paul Grégoire.

The central element of the monument is a concrete conical pillar 22 meters (72 ft) in height, covered entirely by white travertine stone. On the front of the pillar is a relief entitled De Vrede ("Peace"), consisting of four chained male figures, representing the suffering endured during the war. To either side of these central figures are two male sculptures representing members of the Dutch resistance, the left figure symbolizing the resistance by the intelligentsia and the right figure symbolizing the resistance by the working classes. Weeping dogs are at their feet, representing suffering and loyalty. Above the central relief is a sculpture of a woman with a child in her arms and doves flying around her, representing victory, peace, and new life. A relief of the back side of the pillar shows doves ascending into the sky, symbolizing the liberation.

The monument is placed on a series of concentric rings, forming steps up to the monument. In front of the monument, on either side, are two sculptures of lions on circular pedestals, symbolizing the Netherlands. A semicircular wall surrounds the back side of the monument. The wall contains eleven urns with soil from World War II execution grounds and war cemeteries in each of the Dutch provinces. Three years later, a twelfth urn was added with soil from the Dutch East Indies, present-day Indonesia.

The pillar carries an inscription in Latin:

Hic ubi cor patriae monumentum cordibus intus quod gestant cives spectet ad astra dei.

(freely translated: "Here, where the heart of the fatherland is, may this monument, which citizens carry in their heart, gaze at God's stars")

The wall behind the pillar also carries a Dutch-language inscription, a text by the poet Adriaan Roland Holst. On the back side of the wall is an inscription of a verse of Dutch poetry by Anthonie Donker, a pseudonym of N.A. Donkersloot.

Decided to explore around this area of the city. I came upon the Ann Frank House. Michael and I will tour this on Monday.

Walked along some of the canals. Notice the hooks at the top of the buildings. The hook is used to transport heavy goods to the upper floors. There are no elevators. They bring in the goods by opening windows on the upper floors.

Where to go for Michael's birthday dinner? The receptionist at the hotel suggested the Destiny Restaurant to Michael. Great choice!!!

He is what they say about themselves: "The cuisine of Restaurant Dynasty characterized itself by fine eastern dishes with an accent on Thai and Chinese cooking methods. The authentic dishes, with all its own uniqueness, will give you an unique tasting experience. In the 30 years of establishment, Dynasty has created a well-known name where diners can expect consistency in exceptional quality, great service and dining experience." The food was exceptional!!! Definitely 5 stars!!!

We decided on the 6 course meal.

1st- goose liver in a special sauce

2nd- chicken soup with coconut and curry spices

3rd - prime lobster, braised with ginger and scallions

4th - tasty turbot (type of fish) in a delicious curry mixture with white rice

5th - the secret of beef in sauce with exotic herbs

Cantonese fried rice

6th - lychee nuts in ice shavings with red fruit, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a strawberry

Wonderful day exploring Amsterdam and celebrating Michael's birthday with a unique and extraordinary meal!!!!


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