We left the cruise terminal and were met by our local guides who escorted us just a few steps away from the cruise terminal to the beautiful Stan Huygens. I might point out that were also told during our canal journey that the Stan Huygens had been the boat used by Lady Gaga for her tour of Amsterdam, I thought that was quite interesting. Once everyone was aboard it was time to begin our exploration.
Our first stop was Gassan Diamonds, one of the places I had been most looking forward to visiting. We were escorted through the building and met by a gentleman named Alejandro and the owner of Gassan, who each gave us some history on the company and then ultimately a demonstration on how diamonds are actually cut. It was incredibly interesting, and cutting the perfect diamond really is a skill. Gassan is famous throughout the world for highly quality stones, but they also have their very own cut, the Gassan 121.
As noted on the Gassan website – ‘This brand new cut has one hundred and twenty one facets, sixteen additional facets on the top and forty eight extra on the bottom in comparison to the traditional round brilliant cut. According to a report of the WTOCD (a department of the High Council of Diamonds in Antwerp) the placement of the additional facets strongly emphasizes the contrast between the light and dark zones of the diamond.’
Before we left Gassan we were shown into a small room where Alejandro allowed us a closer look at some beautiful stones! The one you see to left the was 1.07 carat and had a value of 16,000 euro, that’s just for the stone! You could watch staff polishing and shaping the stones and one lady kindly stood up and came around from her work station so we could see how the machine held the stone, she then offered us the chance to look through the magnifier so we could see the diamond in all it’s beauty.
Next it was time to board Stan Huygens and make our way through the canals to the Van Loon museum, to be honest I didn’t really know a great deal about the Van Loon, but I do like period properties and this one was no disappointment. Located on the Keizersgracht the exterior of the property alone was visually pleasing, but walking through the door you were aware of the main delights. The canal house, which is home to the museum, was built in 1672, and served as the home of artist Ferdinand Bol. From 1884 to 1945 the Van Loons lived in the house and Thora van Loon-Egidius was a lady-in-waiting for Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. The entire house was beautiful and bursting with history, but the gardens to the rear were the highlight for me. I have had the pleasure of seeing several beautiful and secluded gardens during my trips to Holland, some that are way off the tourist routes, but this one really was superb. The smell of the roses alone was enough to make you want to quietly sit there all day.
We once again boarded Stan Huygens where we would have a ‘high-tea’ lunch as we made our way to what would be my final stop, The House of Bols. I think by now you all know I rarely go anywhere without sampling a cocktail and as luck would have it one was included during our visit, how convenient! The House of Bols was awesome, I loved every minute of it especially the wall of flavours! You squeezed a small pump that was connected to a bottle and the idea was to guess the flavour from the smell alone. I managed to get 4 out of 5, mistaking Kiwi for Green Apple. The final stop on the tour was the cocktail bar and what a bar it was! We were each given a token and with that token we could select a cocktail of our choice from the interactive menu and it would be brought to life by the expert bartender. I went with the Cherry Cobbler which consisted of:
Bols Jonge Jenever – 45ml
Bols Cherry Brandy – 15ml
Bols Crème de Casis – 15ml
Fresh Lemon Juice – 15ml
Sugar Syrup – 1 bar spoon
The day would come to an end with a walk back to the ship from the House of Bols which took around 45 minutes. Some of the group opted to check out the Van Gogh museum which is actually directly opposite the House of Bols and others made their way to the Rijksmuseum.
Amsterdam did not disappoint and I am already looking forward to seeing what awaits me on my next visit!