I had a minor dose of weather shock in the Netherlands, having gotten quite used to the pervasive siesta-inducing heat of the south. But other than the on-going distraction of scattered showers and rummaging for sweaters at the beach at midday, I was fully occupied in a bit of unabashed tourism, the kind of visiting that I too rarely did as a local. Here is some of what I liked of this most modest and splendid of cities.The last few photos are of the newly renovated Royal Palace on Dam Square. In the decade I lived in Amsterdam, I was never really tempted to enter the building, in large part because from the outside it simply looks like the time-blackened municipal hall that it once was. But, you know, if it was good enough to serve as the royal palace for Napoleon's brother Louis (anointed King of Holland) and currently reigning Queen Beatrix, then it's most likely good enough for me to visit. That was sort of how my thinking went anyway. Plus it had just reopened a couple of weeks ago after a long renovation. The lavishly carved (over 15 years' worth by 17th century Artus Quellinus), jewel-box vaulted interior spaces of glowing white marble validated this line of reasoning quite admirably. Dutch Baroque, and unabashedly so.