Day Nine: Museum Day!

On the morning of the 22nd, we Ubered our way to the museums surrounding the Museumplein, a large public space in southwest Amsterdam. Today, two more bucket list art museums were checked off the list.

The first museum of the day was the renowned Rijksmuseum, with some of the best paintings from Holland’s Golden Age, including Dutch Masters from Vermeer to Steen to Hals to Rembrandt. It was wonderful to behold.

Starting our day at the wonderful Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum has pieces other than great Dutch art. This is the uniform of a Jewish lady from a German concentration camp along with a photo album of her family before the Holocaust. It was powerful!

Frans Hals marvelous, “The Merry Drinker”

And, “The Merry Family,” by Jan Steen.

The magnificent, “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer. How delicately he captures the natural light in the scene.

William van de Velde, “The Gust.” It brings back memories.

The majestic Windmill by Jacob Ruisdael.

Rembrandt, of course.

One of my favorites of Rembrandt, “The Jewish Bride.” So beautiful and full of tenderness!

The star of the show, Rembrandt’s, “Night Watch”. (Which by the way takes place during the day!. It became so dirty and layered with grime over the years, it was thought to be a nighttime scene.)

A younger Rembrandt.

Cindy stands in front of the three Van Goghs on display at the Rijksmuseum.

The Rijksmuseum in the background.

The next museum, just next door, was the Vincent Van Gogh museum, which contains 200 Van Gogh paintings which were owned by his brother, Theo. We looked at potato eaters, yellow houses, bedrooms, chairs, sunflowers, irises, wheat fields, and various other subjects transformed by Vincent’s distinctive technique. Oh… and we saw lots of Self-portraits!

Outside the Van Gogh museum. No photos were allowed, unfortunately. But, what a treat!

A photo-op spot.

Another commercial photo-op spot where they email you the photo taken by a machine.

We had a unique Dutch experience for lunch eating Rijsttafel at Sama Sebo, an Indonesian restaurant not far from the Museumplein. This Indonesian rice table is a throw back to the days when the islands of the East Indies were Dutch colonies. The rijsttafel, in which multiple dishes of food and spices are placed on the table with a bowl of rice, is a Dutch creation to showcase such an extravagant array from the islands.

Lunch stop: The Same Sebo Indonesian Restaurant.

This is what a Rijsttafel looks like! A feast for the senses!

After lunch, we tackled the third museum, which was not on my bucket list, but was, nonetheless, and enjoyable excursion into modern art at the Stedelijk Museum. While much of Modern Art leaves me shaking my head, we do enjoy some artists and their work. Among them is the Dutch artist, Piet Mondriaan, whose geometric patterns filled with primary colors and non-colors (black, white, shades of gray) are interesting. He was a part of the 20th century, Dutch De Stijl movement.

Amsterdam’s modern art museum, The Stedelijk

Cindy and an Andy Warhol at the Stedelijk Museum.

Cindy showing off her matching Mondriaan earrings (purchased at the Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts).

Marc Chagall

A Van Gogh at the Stedelijk

After stopping for a drink at the House of Bols Cocktail and Genever Experience we took the local tram back to the center of town where our hotel is located. For dinner, we sat out in the open air on one of the bridges spanning the canal to eat nachos and burgers at Cafe van Zuylen.

We’re suckers for signs like this: Outside the House of Bols: Cocktail and Genever Experience.

Dinner on the canal bridge: Nachos and Dutch Brew

Amsterdam canal view from our dinner table.

The Hotel Brouwer steps. Cindy has elevator-phobia and walked up 3 or 4 flights of spiral stairs to our room each time. Elevators (if they have them) in these old hotels are tiny. Two people riding the elevator together would be very intimately arranged. Three might be immoral.

The sun sets on another Amsterdam day (from our window).

Day Eight: Haarlem and Amsterdam: Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank (among other things)

Friday, the 21st was a whirlwind day. We arose a little earlier than usual to make the 45-minute drive to the quintessentially Dutch town of Haarlem. (You may be more familiar with the Harlem of New York City. You may not be surprised to know that there is a connection between the two. New York City was once a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam. The inhabitants, naturally, named a nearby area after Amsterdam’s nearby town of Haarlem in The Netherlands.)

A Haarlem Canal

The De Adriaan Windmill, actually a recent replica of an older windmill that burned down in 1932.

The huge 15th century Grote Kerk, which we did not have time to visit. You’ll notice all these churches have names like “Old Church, New Church, or Market Church.” That is because the protestants changed them from the names of saints. This was once St. Bavo Church.

Upon our arrival in Haarlem, we hurried to the Corrie Ten Boom House for the 10 a.m. tour. We were very fortunate to get in at 10. It was booked solid, but there were a few no shows. We were able to see “the hiding place,” where the Ten Boom family hid up to six Jews at a time in a concealed secret room just off Corrie’s bedroom. The devout Christian family was eventually arrested, and Corrie’s father and sister died in the concentration camp. Corrie survived and spent many years telling her story and sharing the Gospel.

Cindy standing in front of the house of Corrie Ten Boom. Here was a safe haven for Jews during WW II.

Cindy stands in the hiding place (the wall of course was not broken through as it is today for the purpose of visualizing the space. It was a tiny place in which six Jews at a time could hide.

Actually, the hiding place was never discovered by the Nazis. The Gestapo, who had been tipped off to the activities taking place here, burst into the Ten Boom house on 2/28/44. In this hidden compartment by the staircase they found a number of ration coupons for the hiding Jews, which was enough for them to be arrested and hauled off to concentration camps.

The Ten Boom residence on the corner. The family business, a clock shop, was run below. Today, fittingly, it is a watch shop.

The hiding place was built in the already small bedroom of Corrie Ten Boom. The entrance to the hiding place was through the bottom cabinet on the left. The six Jews that were in the hiding place when the family was arrested were not found by the Nazis. They continued to hide for 47 hours until they were set free by police officers who were secretly members of the Dutch underground.

After spending an hour-and-a-half at the Ten Boom residence we walked to the museum of the Netherlands’ great portrait painter, Frans Hals. Haarlem was his hometown and this museum contains several of his important works.

Exterior of the Frans Hals (1582-1666) Museum, who hailed from Haarlem. He earned his reputation as the portrait painter of the Golden Age of Dutch art.

This is not by Hals, but another representation of St. Luke painting the virgin.

Look at this masterpiece I found at the Hals Museum! What a beauty!

Cindy in a Dutch painting. 🙂

Officers and Sergeants of the St. George Civic Guard, 1635, Frans Hals

A Room in the Frans Hals Museum

Before long, we were back in the car for our final destination, the capital of the
Netherlands, wild and crazy Amsterdam. I put forth my best efforts to dodge all the bicyclists, pedestrians, scooters, and other vehicles which at time seem to come from all directions at once. I quickly dropped Cindy off at our hotel on the Singel Canal while blocking traffic unloading. I then returned our rental car, catching an Uber for the ride back to the Hotel.

A view from our window in the Hotel Brauwer in Amsterdam

The Singel Canal from our window.

After just a short rest, we walked across three canals to the Anne Frank house, where we then stood in line for 2 1/2 hours to enter in to the house and museum. Photos were not allowed inside, but the tour was sobering. For two years, eight Jews hid in a secret annex in this house before being discovered by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. We walked through the bookcase entrance to see where Anne Frank recorded her thoughts in her diary.

Captivating Amsterdam Canal

A small segment of the 4 block line to enter the Anne Frank Museum

Exterior of the Anne Frank house (from Wikipedia)

The bookcase entrance into the Secret Annex (taken from the web; photo were not allowed inside)

Eager to sit down and fill our bellies, we walked deeper into the Jordaan neighborhood to La Perla for some great wood-fired pizza. Once our stomachs were full, we decided we could stomach the Red Light District. Prostitution and Marijuana are, as you probably know, legal in Amsterdam. We’ve passed numerous “coffee shops” where the smell of marijuana was pungent and strong as we walked by. The Red Light District is ironically and unexpectedly centered around the Oude Kerk (Old Church). During the early evening, its a rather touristy place, but we understand that after dark it feels much more dirty and seedy. A couple of hours before the sun set, we passed by several shops selling all sorts of sex paraphernalia before actually getting to the red lights, where nearly naked women display their wares and wink at men that might be interested in purchasing through their red curtain-framed windows. We didn’t linger long before our curiosity was satisfied and we were ready to get back to better environs.

Amsterdam Canal

Jaw-dropping beauty.

Waiting on our pizza at La Perla

The Bulldog Cafe, supposedly the first “coffeehouse” in Amsterdam marks the beginning of the Red Light District. The small alley just to its left contains the red lights and windows in which women attempt to entice the men walking by.

No close ups of the ladies in the Red Light District will be provided, but in this photo you can see several windows with red lights above them.

Our room with a view. 🙂

Sunset in Amsterdam

Since it doesn’t get dark until almost 11 p.m., we are rarely out after dark. This almost-nighttime photo of the lit up canals is from our room.

Day Seven: Delft and The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague

On the morning of the 20th, we left the hotel just before nine for a quick tour of the town, starting at the Markt (Market Square), which actually had a sizable market laid out across the square selling anything from meats to cheeses, fish to bread, clothing to spices. The Markt is framed by the 14th century New Church on one end, the 15th century town hall at the other, and a statue of Hugo Grotius in the center.

The spire of the New Church, framed in beauty.

Veggies and Fruit in the Market

Candies at the market.

Hugo Grotius, Christian Apologist and developer of the Governmental Theory of the Atonement, who also was the first to establish international rules of the sea, putting forth the idea that the oceans were open to every nation.

The New Church is a giant Gothic church which serves, among other things, to hold the tombs of Dutch royalty, including the beloved William I of Orange, the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs. The church has endured much: A fire devastated it in 1536 when it was struck by lightning, the iconoclasts ransacked it in the 1560s, and the windows were blown out by a nearby gunpowder depot explosion in 1654.

Looking across Market Square at the New Church

Interior of the New Church

The grand tomb of William of Orange which dominates the front of the church.

View down the nave toward the back of the church with the massive organ in view. The slab of stone in the foreground marks the entrance to an underground labyrinth in which descendants of the royal family are buried. Or, as Rick Steven says, it contains crates of Oranges! 🙂

The apse of the New Church

From there we walked up the Oulde Canal to the Old Church (both churches, by the way, are now not Catholic, but Dutch Reformed). The sober interior reflects the iconoclastic riots of 1566 and 1572. Two locals have found their tombs within this church: The inventor of the microscope, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, and the famous local artist, Johannes Vermeer.

Above this Subway sandwich shop, a Bible on the corner of the building marks this as the spot of the first printed Dutch bible (1477).

We walked through town in a light rain this morning. Cindy stops at a memorial to Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) who invented the microscope and used it to discover bacteria.

There are three of these blue and white lampposts in a courtyard which were made in Delft’s Chinese sister city and gifted to this town as a reminder of the 400-year relationship between porcelain making in China and Delft.

Interior of the Old Church

The remains of Vermeer are here, marked by this slab in the floor of the Old Church

Later in the morning, we hopped in our rental car for the short eight mile ride to The Hague, the seat of government for the Netherlands since 1588. The attraction which drew us to the city was the Mauritshuis Museum, a small museum packed full of Dutch Golden Age art, including such masterpieces as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. A visit to this museum has been on my wish list for awhile.

In The Hague, we see tributes to the 20th century Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan everywhere. His family lived in The Hague.

Another nod to Mondriaan.

The exterior of the Mauritshuis Museum.

Pieter Claesz, a Haarlem still-life painter known for his Vanitas works.

The Garden of Eden, a collaboration by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Rubens (who painted Adam and Eve).

Rubens’ Old Woman and a Boy with Candles (1616-17). She passes the light to the boy.

Rubens’ great The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. Reminds me of Gross Anatomy.

A (young) Rembrandt self-portrait.

Detail of a Rembrandt depiction of Simeon rejoicing at the Christ Child

An (older) Rembrandt self-portrait.

A monumental painting called The Bull. It was pretty massive, and revolutionary in its time… to paint a farm animal on such a grand scale.

One of the Dutch morality paintings illustrating the Proverb, As the Elders Pipe, the Children Sing. (The adults are setting a bad example for the children, which will be surely followed.)

Vermeer’s masterpiece, The Girl with a Pearl Earring (We’ve now been privileged to see this twice. The first time in Atlanta a few years ago, when it was on loan from the Mauritshuis.)

A majestic Vermeer landscape, View of Delft.

Jan Steen depicting the physician diagnosing the ills of this young lady by examining her urine.

Cindy standing in the Mauritshuis.

We drove back to Delft to relax in our air-conditioned room (the first on this trip) before having dinner at the lovely Spijshuis de Dis. We both had hearty Flemish meals: Cindy enjoyed the braised beef while I had the tasty leg of Rabbit (tastes like chicken!).

Our room in Delft, with a canal view.

My sweetheart in Delft.

On the way to dinner.

I’m still not tired of these beautiful canal views.

Our restaurant for the evening, Spijshuis de Dis.

Interior of our dinner spot.