Amsterdam - Museum Van Loon & Café Lanskroon
It rains and it's okay. That's my new travel mantra. Inclement weather can be such a bother when you're exploring a new place. I always hope for blue skies and moderate temperatures when I set out on a trip and, for the most part, I've been extraordinarily lucky weather-wise. My luck caught up to me last fall in Amsterdam where I had several chilly, rainy, generally miserable to be outside kinda days. Ultimately the rain slowed me down some, but it also gave me the opportunity to put my Amsterdam Museumkaart to good use. In just one day I visited three small museums that I probably would have missed otherwise.
My first stop was the seriously lovely Museum Van Loon. This well preserved Canal House was built in 1672 by William Van Loon, one of the founders of the Dutch East-India Company. It's a gorgeous home full of period furniture and lots of tall windows that fill each room with light, even on a gray day. Conveniently, the Van Loon house sits on the Keizersgracht, or the Emperor’s Canal. It's one of the widest canals in Amsterdam and houses several Museumkart eligible museums.
After Museum Van Loon I stopped into another historical Canal House, Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis. It's not quite as charming as the airy Van Loon complex, but still a nice way to spend an hour. The home has a beautiful little library and very nice gardens. There was a couple taking wedding photos inside, which made touring a few of the rooms a bit awkward.
My last museum stop of the morning was FOAM, Photography Museum Amsterdam. I almost didn't visit -- I was starting to get a little hungry. But I'm so glad I decided to stop and tour the collection. I was thrilled to learn that FOAM had just opened the traveling exhibit, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. If you're not familiar with Maier's work and story I encourage you to check her out.
In a nutshell, Vivian Maier worked as a nanny for most of her life while producing an astonishing output (100,000 to 150,000 negatives!) of street photography in her free time. She was extremely secretive about her work which was only recently discovered by a third party. In 2007 John Maloof won a haul of negatives in a storage unit auction and has worked since then to develop, curate, and promote Maier's photographs. After enjoying the exhibit I was delighted to discover Maloof's documentary Finding Vivian Maier was available on demand to watch on my flight home.
After museum hopping all morning, plus a stop at the Spui Book Market, I needed a pick-me-up. Pint size cafe Lanskroon was just the place. I had a to wait a few minutes for a seat, and my treats, before I settling in to warm up. The cozy shop offers a wide variety of sweets, including pies and cakes, but I chose a traditional Dutch treat, the stroopwaffel. Roughly translated to syrup waffle, a stroopwaffel is two thin, wafer-y cookies that sandwich a layer of syrup or some other sweet gooey substance. I ordered the coffee caramel stroopwaffel (they also have a honey-filled option) which was oh so nice paired with an espresso. If I did it all over again (and I would, happily) I might get a latte and do like the Dutch, setting my cookie on top of the coffee to warm up the filling.