Next stop from northern Germany: Amsterdam. I had never been to the Netherlands before, despite four years living abroad in Europe, and I have a great fondness for the Dutch, so this was a much anticipated trip. Because of mobility reasons, I did a cruise with the happy couple, before they were to drop off Daniel’s parents to return home to Chile. Heidi and I both wore bird dresses — great minds! On the tour was the “Skinny Bridge” which can be seen in the James Bond film ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971).
After they returned to Germany, I continued my intensive sightseeing tour. Rick Steves is my favorite city walk tour guide, so I had downloaded his app and podcasts in advance. The city tour made the most of my walk through Amsterdam on Day 1.
On Day 2, I booked a 9:30am slot at the Van Gogh Museum, a must see for my attractions list. There were no photos allowed except of the wall reproductions, but I snuck a couple in before I was stopped. Madness!
Things I learned:
- “The Kingfisher is an oil on canvas painting by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. It was painted from July to December 1886. The Kingfisher was painted in Paris, France.” (Wikipedia)
- “Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh. It has been cited by several critics as one of his greatest works.” (Wikipedia) I found out this painting was one of his last before his suicide and death, and happened to be the cover for my Kindle.
- “Flying Fox (1884): This is a type of tropical bat – an unusual subject for an artist. The one painted by Van Gogh was stuffed and mounted. Just look at its stiff, unnatural pose. Van Gogh knew a man in Eindhoven (NL), Antoon Hermans, with a collection of more than 300 mounted exotic animals. This bat may have come from that collection. Van Gogh wanted to depict the translucent wings clearly, so he placed a light source behind them.” (van Gogh Museum)
- “Almond Blossoms is from a group of several paintings made in 1888 and 1890 by Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Saint-Rémy, southern France of blossoming almond trees. Flowering trees were special to van Gogh. They represented awakening and hope. He enjoyed them aesthetically and found joy in painting flowering trees… Almond Blossom was made to celebrate the birth of his nephew and namesake, son of his brother Theo and sister-in-law Jo.” (Wikipedia) This reminded me of my new nephew, James! Five months old now ^_^
Finally, I finished off with Rick Steves’ Jordaan city walk, which allowed a glimpse of the more residential and less touristy aspects of Amsterdam, while including the Anne Frank House (which I couldn’t book tickets in time — they recommend reserving two months in advance!). I had just read The Diary of Anne Frank last year, so it was moving to be outside and think about the year or so of her life spent hiding indoors. The Amsterdam Tulip Museum, of course, just randomly showed up along the way, but I didn’t go in. Notice the uneven houses, due to “settling” Rick Steves informed me.
“Across the Singel is Torensluis, one of the oldest and widest bridges in the city. The big moustached bust is of Multatuli, the pen name of the brilliant 19th-century author Eduard Douwes Dekker, who exposed colonial narrow-mindedness in a novel about a coffee merchant.” (source) This was interesting to learn, of an author speaking out against Dutch colonialism, and compared to Rudyard Kipling.
And last, but not least, a panorama or two.