Here I am in Amster(shh)

When I was a kid we used to sing this song: “Amster, Amster, shh, shh, shh – you must not say that naughty word” (dam(n) in case you’re wondering). Ah the lost innocence. Well, anyway, here I am in Amstershh, and it’s every bit as scenic and flat and wonderful as I remember. The canals are still here.

And the “art” is still here, although some of it always strikes me as Emperor’s New Clothes stuff:

The Rijksmuseum is still here, still as hard to spell as ever, and still — as seemingly ever — in a state of renovation. This is actually good news, for they’ve opened a small satellite exhibit, kind of a “Rijks Lite” or “greatest hits” version of the museum, including many Rembrandts (including the granddaddy of them all, “The Night Watch.”) The beauty of this is that you get Rijks-without-guilt. You can see the whole temporary exhibit in just an hour, and not feel self-conscious that you didn’t spend more of your precious Amsterdam time inside a museum. I took a couple of photos..

…before the docent informed me that photographs are not allowed. Shame. I’d have taken a picture of the “no photos” sign if I’d seen it.

Meanwhile, we know that the Dutch are famous for porcelain, but who knew it extended to faces?

I kind of feel like I’m taking this trip on speed. It’s so short — just four days, really, with two of those committed to the work I’ve come here to do (discussing adaptation and development of television shows across cultural and national platforms — woo-hoo!) The rest of the time, I have to choose from among an embarrassment of riches. Van Gogh Museum? (Been there, but who gets tired of van Goghs?) Anne Frank House (a stone bummer – probably opt for the Resistance Museum instead). Heineken brewery tour? Hey, I did that when I was 20. I remember that it was fun — and then I remember that I don’t remember much afterwards. And let’s not forget the Holland Casino, where I could drop in and show them how it works when you DECIDE TO PLAY GREAT POKER. Probably I’ll just wander and let myself go where my feet take me. In terms of scenery, architecture and people-watching, I know of no other city anywhere where it’s more fun and rewarding just to stroll.

The real trick will be to stay ahead of jet lag. If I get caught up in a “white night,” where I sleep not at all, then I’ll be crap all the next day — and the next two days are work days. Fortunately, I’ve got my melatonin regime dialed in, so I’ll get at least some quality ZZZ each night. It’s a trick one must develop for these crazy one-week jaunts across nine time zones. Without melatonin I don’t know where I’d be. If you don’t know,

Melatonin (Listeni /ˌmɛləˈtnɪn/), also known chemically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine,[1] is a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants and microbes.[2][3] In animals, circulating levels of the hormone melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions.[4]

And let me tell you, it works great. I feel all entrained. At least for now. But ask me again when it’s three in the morning, I’m channel-surfing among Dutch TV stations and hating life.

For now, though, I’m loving life. Got the Rijksmuseum ticked right off my list.

Closing photo: real house or doll house? U decide.

More later from Amstershh. -jv

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