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Fun things to do in Amsterdam in January:
Go to the zoo- expensive, but there's an aquarium, planetarium and butterfly house in it as well. The herons hanging out in the penguin pool were fairly cool to see, also little lizards that looked like they were made of filigree, and some teeny teeny starfish, and baby llamas. (They could do with cutting down the number of species- there's an impressive amount of space for a city zoo, but one of the elephants was rocking.)
Go to the botanical gardens; the palm house was good, but the three-climate greenhouse with informal trails was worth the admission cost, and they had some butterflies I've never heard of with wings as transparent as dragonflies' except for white markings at the ends which made semicircles in the air as they flew.
Exhibition of Islamic arts at the Niewe Kerk. There was one set of door-knockers that for all the world looked Viking.
Rembrandt's house; catch the demos of printmaking and paint-grinding.
The Rijksmuseum; the rebuilding means the bit that's open is more doable in one go! Dollshouses with teeny delftware, as well as the Rembrandts, Vermers, etc.
Look at the canals.
Not buy anything at the flower market.
Eat winter pea soup, pancakes with slices of apple cooked into them and served with chopped candied ginger, raisin doughnuts, appelbeignets, bread with chocolate sprinkles, bami goreng, etc.

Less fun things to do:
Drive out to the beach in freezing rain- but the hot chocolate was worth it.
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Had [livejournal.com profile] sigmonster here at the weekend, which was very nice. We went to Harewood House on the Saturday [1]; had a sumptuous tea on the terrace, saw two excellent herbaceous borders, and lots of interesting birds in aviaries (I liked the owls- sigmonster said the Snowies had Uggs on, but I think they're Shire owls; either way they look ridiculous stomping around, while the Burrowing owls are just sweet- the many Psittaciformes and the toucans were also cool) and at least four wild red kites, also some nice woodland and lake views; and snaffled some fruit in the walled garden (it wasn't being picked! Waste is bad! The mulberries in particular were very nice). They were gearing up for a steam rally the next day, and as we waited for the bus back there were several road engines whose owners had got a bit thirsty and driven up to the pub...


Yesterday there were high thin clouds that I think must have been ice- for several hours while the sun was low but before sunset, there was a point of rainbow refraction in the cloud a few degrees away from the sun. It was lovely.


[1] For future ref: bus no. 36, goes from the bus stn. up New Briggate.

York

Jan. 29th, 2007 01:52 pm
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I don't think I'd nipped over to York for the afternoon for many years; it was nice. One of the good things about being close to somewhere is not having to do all the touristy things in one go. I'm sure I'll get back to the Minster sometime, but I spent far longer in Barnitt's than anywhere else. They have little wooden tongs for fishing toast out of toasters, if anyone needs some...
Barley Hall has got more rooms open than last time I went, and there were also a couple of period-dressed musicians there; the flute and harp duets were nice, the bagpipe was pipey.
I'm pretty sure I hadn't been to the city art museum before- some nice Japanese prints.

The NMM's cinema got A Prairie Home Companion in. It was slight, but pleasant, and somehow manages to be really feelgood despite a plot that should be quite depressing. Garrison Keillor's voice was probably my favourite thing about it, though- he's one of the short list of people who will replace all newsreaders and continuity announcers when I rule the world. (Not that there's anything wrong with Charlotte Green, but wouldn't Stephen Fry be more comforting when the world's going to hell?)

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