Museumnacht & iPhone Tech Talk

07 Nov 2008

Going to club two recent events into one post.

First, Museumnacht 08! This annual event is the best way to cover at least some of Amsterdam’s many museums. Depending on your planning and speed, you can visit as many as 45 places covered under the plan. Travel on the trams, night-buses and the metro are covered on the ticket as well. The whole thing lasted from 7 p.m. on Nov 1 until 2 a.m. on Nov 2. For just 13 Euros, it was a steal!

Given that we didn’t know much about the museum scenario and are relatively new to Amsterdam, we still managed to cover 7 places in one night, an impressive feat IMO. We started off at the Filmhuis, and the theme of the night was Bollywood! They picked out the cheesiest scenes from the 80s to screen, posters of films from the 40s to the 90s and a dressing room for folks to try out traditional Indian costumes. Though it was enjoyable, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time rediscovering Bollywood in Amsterdam.

After a small walking mishap (Damnit iPhone, would it be so hard to include a compass on your maps so we know which direction we’re moving in?!), we found our way to the sound museum. Sounds fun, right? It was: plenty of interesting exhibits, some were even interactive. At this point, hunger caught on, and we got some “Wok to Walk” - that’s right - the stereotypical chinese food in a square box. Next up on the list was FOAM: The Photography Museum. This was the first one we had to stand in line for, but it was worth it, because inside there was a lot of free candy and some really nice photographs to look at. We decided to walk towards a tram station, but were attracted by the National Archives on the way. This place housed some really historic documents from the old dutch days, and couple of interactive exhibits.

A quick (free) ride on the tram later, we wound up at the Rembrandt House, which is a modern reconstruction of the famous 17th century painter’s home. There was a queue for this too, but again, was definitely worth it. There were paintings from a few other modern artists in addition to some of Rembrandt’s works (couldn’t tell if they were original or not). We heard there would be some live Jazz music around this time (it was 11:30 PM by now), so we started wandering around looking for it until we wound up at this really cool Portuguese Synagogue. It was entirely candle-lit, and was very pleasing to the eye. A nice place to sit down and relax after all the walking-around. Last place we visited was the Jewish Historical Museum, which was possibly the best place we visited all day, because we spent a little more than an hour here. There were multiple floors within this place covering all topics ranging from the foundation of the state of Israel to the stories of Jews in the Netherlands during WWII. An excellent collection of paintings, photographs, books, videos, documents, you name it.

We could have visited one more place, it was still just 1 a.m., but we were all extremely tired (I had just returned from Volos the same day), so we decided to just walk towards centraal for the nightbus - all the trams had stopped because it was late. Overall, a fairly satisfying trip: Amsterdam is a city so much more than its general perception, I am loving it!

Next up: the iPhone tech talk. Apple had advertised a series of talks on iPhone development around the world, and there was to be one at “Amsterdam”. But it turns out that the actual venue was at the Technical University in Delft, which is about an hour away from here. I was just happy to be invited, so a friend and I took the trains (which rock in the Netherlands, BTW). After a little wandering around, we managed to find the place. The event was “confidential” so apparently we’re not allowed to blog about it, so I’ll just say that it was rather interesting. Coming from a FOSS background however, I must say that writing applications for the iPhone is not the most lucrative option. In any case, as a Grad student there was no way I was going to give up the opportunity for free food and a free T-Shirt ;)