The Rijksmuseum

Wednesday - January 2nd and Europe faced its first business day with the Euro. ATMs were uniformly empty. I've never seen a run on a bank but what I saw in Amsterdam might qualify. Long lines stretched out the front doors as people waited hours to convert guilders into euros. Thoughts of purchasing euro coin starter kits as souvenirs were quickly forgotten as we began our Museum Day. Although we had visited the Rijksmuseum last year, we had to return and photograph a statue that captivated us then. Called the Madwoman, the statue (sculpted in 1615) was once located in front of the Madhouse, Amsterdam's asylum for

the insane. In the 17th century, people would visit the asylum for entertainment, paying a small fee to gawk at the insane as they stuck their heads through holes in the cell doors. You can't visit the Rijks and not see Rembrandt's Nightwatch. This enormous masterpiece is a national treasure of the Netherlands. It merits a security guard's constant presence, occasionally two guards.

From the Rijks, we headed to the Van Gogh museum but with lines stretching down the steps and onto the sidewalk, we decided to blow it off and save Van Gogh for another time. Found a local tap room which we christened 'The Cheers Bar of Holland'. Wooden floor coated with dirt, dark smoke-stained walls liberally decorated with animal head trophies and the unmistakable flavor of non-tourist made this little bar a favorite. Off an alleyway, this place was truly a "local's bar". Only Dutch was being spoken. When the door would open, heads would swing around greeting whoever came in by name. One local glanced in our direction and smiled, then spoke a line of Dutch. The group nodded, smiled, some chuckling. M.S.O. smiled and whispered,  "If this becomes a tourist bar..."

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