Thanks for all of your lovely comments. It encourages me to continue blogging. This will be my last post from this trip as we are returning home tomorrow. This was a fabulous trip; lots of interesting things to see, a lot of excellent art exhibits and amazing food.
We ended our trip in Amsterdam. We hadn’t been here since 1969! Neither of us remembered anything from then. Amsterdam is a fun city. I recommend it for a visit if you haven’t been here. We did lots of touristy things. We bought a Museum Card which got us into every place we visited (& in some places we were able to skip long lines because of it); highly recommend doing so should you venture here.
We started our exploring by going to Rembrandt’s house and studio which was fun. I always enjoy seeing where an artist created his works of art. Here’s a photo from the studio.
We went to the Royal Palace (didn’t compare with a lot of other palaces we have seen) and then to the Anne Frank House. Luckily, I had actually purchased these tickets on line in advance; didn’t have to wait in an incredibly long line in the rain. The space the family lived in was soo small; really a sad story. Just climbing the steps to get to the attic was almost claustrophobic; imagine living there for 4 years (& then being betrayed!). You weren’t allowed to take photos inside; here’s the outside of the house; it’s the one with the steps.
Here’s where we went next:
The next day we went to the Stedelijk Museum. This is Amsterdam’s museum of contemporary art. (Sam: they had a piece by Donald Judd.). After lunch with my cousin Nickie (who came from Berlin to have lunch with me on my birthday!) at a kosher deli, we went to the Rijksmuseum. This is Amsterdam’s largest and most important museum. It just re-opened last month after a 10 year renovation project; what good timing we had. Here we were also able to skip a huge line with our Museum Card. We tried to get audio guides. They have 1000 of them & they didn’t have any left! However, I was able to download a free app to my mini iPad which was fabulous. You just keyed in the # of a painting (or other object) & heard an excellent description. They even gave me ear buds which I was able to share with Marty; worked very well. Yeah for technology! The Rijksmuseum specializes in the Golden Age of Dutch painting. The most important painting at the Rijksmuseum is Rembrandt’s Night Watch – one of the largest paintings I’ve ever seen. They also have a few wonderful Vermeers. (Of course, the Met owns more Vermeers than any other museum in the world). They do have other objects as well such as incredible doll houses; the details were amazing. Here’s one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits:
We ran out of steam then & didn’t get to the Van Gogh Musuem. However, our flight home tomorrow doesn’t leave tiill 4 PM, so we will go tomorrow morning.
Today we went to the Jewish Quarter. On our way we passed a building with this decoration on it:
We went first to the Portuguese Synagogue. When it was built in 1675, it was the largest synagogue in the world. It has no electricity. It is lit only by hundreds of candles in 2 immense candelabras during services.
Then we went to the Jewish Museum. Four Ashkenazi synagogues, dating from the 17th & 18th centuries, were combined with glass and steel construction in 1987 to create this museum which commemorates the 4 century history of the Jewish people in Amstersdam. In the permanent exhibit was some cloth from which Jewish stars were cut to be worn during the Holocaust.
At the moment, besides their permanent collection, there was a temporary exhibit of photos taken by Roman Vishniac — many of which I had previously seen at ICP in NY.
From there we went on a diamond tour – sone info, a polishing demo, but, alas, no diamonds for me.
Then we went to Margere Bridge — Amsterdam’s most famous draw bridge. We spent a good portion of today just wandering around & eventually we took an hour’s cruise ride around the canals. There are 60 miles of canals in Amsterdam. Here was the view from our hotel window.
A word about the food in Amsterdam. For breakfast there’s a chain called Bagels and Beans. We ate in 2 of them. Our first evening here Marty decided he wanted Italian food. We got a recommendation from the concierge & it was quite good. The next night we went to an Indonesian rijstaffel. I had reserved it in advance; it was touted as the best one in Amsterdam. I think “they” were right. They gave us 21 little dishes — pork, beef (both spicy and not), fish, shrimp (both spicy & not), various vegetables, plain rice & fried rice, fried banana and coconut. It was excellent. We washed it down with Indonesian beer.
Our meal last night (which most of you know was my birthday) was at a restaurant called Aan de Poel — a 2 star Michelin restaurant which wasn’t actually in Amsterdam. It is in a nearby suburb called Amstelveen. It is situated on a lovely little lake. The meal was fabulous — one of our best meals ever. The dishes were all incredibly creative. I had a risotto to start with tons of shaved truffles; yummy. A shrimp dish as my main course and then lots & lots of chocolate dishes! And a great Bordeaux to drink. The chef actually took our order himself. He took a liking to Marty & kept on coming out to talk to us throughout the meal. Truly a memorable meal.
This ends this lovely voyage. I will leave you with a photo of each of us that is perhaps typical of what we looked for here. Marty is holding a jelly donut (or Berliner as they are called in Europe); I have a laced lollipop (unfortunately, it didn’t have much to it..)
Doug and Fawn: see you Saturday night (or perhaps Sunday morning).
Sam: see you Tuesday night for Thai food and a dance performance.
Malerie & Pam: see you for our art gallery tour class on Wednesday morning.
Bev: see you Thursday morning for a fun filled day of art exhibits at the Brookyn a Museum (& I forget where else we are going)
Jeanie: Bev & I will meet you for dinner Thursday evening & then the NYC Ballet.
Davi: will see you at Maplewood; will be good to just relax in the sun, but not sure when I will get there.
As you can all see, I have a typical Irene week coming up; no rest for the weary. I will see the rest of you when I see you. Marty and I have been discussing a wine trip to Northern Italy in a year. So if not before then, I will be in touch!
With love to all of you,
I remain your Roving Reporter