Azura managed to get into Amsterdam and clear customs requirements more quickly than anticipated which meant that we were let off the ship about an hour earlier than we expected. My wife and I had purchased 48-hour I Amsterdam city cards before the cruise knowing we’d have more than 24 hours in the Dutch city but we’d only thought we might use the public transport section capability of the cards on the first evening in port simply because places of interest would most likely be closing as we turned up. Our early arrival changed that so we decided to see if we could take in a couple of places almost as soon as we got off the ship. A quick look at the useful maps that came with the cards showed us that we should be able to easily take in two museums close to one another, both of religious leanings, Oude Kerk and Our Lord In The Attic.
We weren’t familiar with Amsterdam so initially simply followed everyone else walking off the ship. A quick show of the passport to customs in the port terminal, then outside, turn right, walk for ten minutes towards the large train station, then turn left, over a bridge, and you’re pretty much in the city centre. We got out our map and quickly found Oude Kerk. Oude Kerk is the oldest building in Amsterdam at over 800 years of age.
The curved, wooden ceilings were particularly impressive to me while my wife loved the spiral staircases that we sadly couldn’t climb. There had been an opportunity to ascend the building’s tower through an entrance on the southern side of Oude Kerk but this was an additional cost and we were keen to take advantage of our city cards as much as possible for this trip. If we return – and I’ve no reason to suspect we won’t – then I’d certainly consider doing that.
An interesting fact about Oude Kerk that we enjoyed remarking to people with whome we talked on the cruise ship over the next couple of days was that the church was right in the middle of the red light district. We’d not been looking for it but it was difficult to miss once you stepped out of the church to get your bearings. I decided not to take any photos of the women in the windows. Numerous people on the cruise had apparently been hunting for the red light district but couldn’t find it; we’d decided to go look for some history and culture and found it as a reward. There’s possibly a lesson there.
Our Lord In The Attic
Not far from Oude Kerk was another museum, Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (or Our Lord In The Attic). This was a traditional Amsterdam house with various elements from different decades and centuries that also featured a Catholic church hidden in its attic. This was created during a period when Catholicism was technically not permitted in the Netherlands but it was tolerated for a number of reasons (mostly financial) so long as it wasn’t seen. This was a very interesting and recommended visit across many floors and up many tiny staircases with the accompaniment of informative audio guides. A combination of the general darkness and lack of seeing anyone else using a camera meant that I decided not to take any photos of the interior of the museum, restricting myself to one shot across the rooftops through a window on the balcony of the attic church.