There were two things we wanted to do in Amsterdam.
I wanted to see the Anne Frank house.Rick wanted to attend a concert at the Concertgebouw.
Considered one of the finest concert halls in the world, the Concertgebouw was completed in 1888 and in renowned for its acoustics.
On the day we were in Amsterdam, there were three concerts scheduled. We chose to attend one at 11:30 a.m. This alone amazed us -- that a concert hall could fill up three times a day, as early as before noon.
What we discovered, after we left our tram and approached the building, is that there are many concerts held there -- each and every single day. In fact, nearly 900 concerts are presented here each year. Perhaps more.
We didn't have tickets, but the website said tickets were available, so we headed first to the box office. As we were getting in line, a couple, perhaps in their 60s or maybe their 70s, asked if we were looking for tickets.
We expected them to be scalpers, but they were season ticket holders whose friends couldn't attend. This very charming couple sold us the extra tickets for face value and then asked us to join them for a before-show coffee in the hall's bar. (We never would have found this without them.)
It was simply delightful to chat with them about their country and the differences in our two countries. When we went to sit together in the auditorium, we felt like friends.
The concert was broadcast on Radio 4 and we enjoyed a program that included music by Stravinsky, Debussy, Rimski-Korsakov and Dukas, with soloist Ronald Brautigam.The conductor, Mark Elder, seemed quite young to us (from our fifth row seats!).
After, we wandered about, taking photos of the hall and rich in the euphoria of hearing wonderful music, beautifully played and in a concert hall that did it justice.
And we had one of those serendipitous encounters that make any experience richer.
1) Online reservations -- it all depends. We learned that if one is on a tight time frame and really wants to do something (like the Anne Frank House), they are mandatory. If you are willing to take a chance, you, too, may have the kind of encounter we enjoyed.
2) If you're not familiar with a venue, ask if there is a spot to enjoy refreshments before the show. The bar in the Concertgebouw was not obvious and had it not been for our Fairy God-Dutch friends, we never would have found this delightful spot.