December 14, 2013

Delightful Amsterdam

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”                    Vincent van Gogh

Carol writes:  Our hotel in Amsterdam turned out to be in a perfect location!  It was just a 5-minute walk to the museum district, the part of town that had the most interest for us.  Amsterdam’s most well-known museum is the world-famous Rijks Museum, which had just reopened last April after undergoing remodeling for 10 years--yes…YEARS.  Art lovers from all over the world had eagerly anticipated the grand reopening in April 2013, and at the time of our initial arrival in Amsterdam last spring, the newly refurbished museum had only been open for 2 weeks.  On several occasions during our travels, we felt sheepish when we had to admit to those who asked us if we had been to the Rijks Museum that we had run out of time and didn’t get a chance to visit.  Oh, the looks of surprise and disappointment that we received.  In any case, with a week to spend in Amsterdam while waiting for our RV to ship out, there was no question how we would spend our first full day in Amsterdam. 

Hands down, our opinion was that the Rijks Museum’s collection of masterpieces housed in its sparkling and refreshed 19th century building was spectacular!  The holographic Christmas tree at the entrance was a nice high-tech introductory touch.

We lingered in impressive gallery rooms that housed many of the Dutch artists that had become our favorites, such as


and Van Gogh.

Some artists that we were not quite as familiar with had works that also simply pleased the eye in so many ways.

I continued to marvel at the exquisite rendering of fabrics in paintings of the time.  Far better than a picture…

The Rembrandt wing was filled with more Rembrandts than we had ever seen in one museum.

The showpiece of the museum was Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”, which drew a huge crowd.  

The museum brochure stated that the museum hasn’t even put a value on this painting, billed as one of the most famous paintings in the world, because they have no intention of ever selling it.

The Night Watch

Yes, Amsterdam is quite proud to be the city that is home to the “Night Watch.”  During one of our walks outside the museum we got a bit of a thrill when we came upon this life-size metal statuary representation of Rembrandt’s masterpiece…and instantly recognized what it was.  Simply made for fun photographs…

In the past 9 months our RV travels have taken us to countless cities with world-class museums.  At times we wondered if we would ever overdose on museums; however, a visit to the Van Gogh Museum settled that question for both of us.  We have learned that with increased appreciation and understanding there is always more that we want to see.  Vincent Van Gogh had certainly risen to the top of our favorites list.  Up close and personal, Van Gogh’s paintings appeared absolutely brilliant with their broad, expressive brushstrokes and vivid complementary colors. 

When we factored in an appreciation of the story of his short tragic life, during which he labored tirelessly to perfect his craft, even though he was frequently tormented by mental illness, the volume and innovative creative style of his work seemed even more remarkable.  I couldn’t resist becoming a part of “The Yellow House” in this giant wall-size reproduction.

One of the joys of the Van Gogh Museum was the high-tech displays that explained how Van Gogh achieved perspective in his paintings.  It was also interesting to read about today’s modern techniques for studying and identifying famous works of art, such as by using advanced x-ray techniques and chemical analysis of pigments.  Some fascinating insights into the mind of the painter have come to light!

We spent many hours of our time in Amsterdam taking long walks by day and into the early evening hours, always feeling quite safe in the areas of town that we visited, even after dark.  With each passing day, we liked Amsterdam even more.  The centuries-old buildings with their characteristic Dutch facades,

looking down on the incessant craziness of thousands of bicyclists weaving along on their designated bike paths, mixed in with the tram lines, contributed to the city’s charm.  Christmas lights only added to the ambience.

 Posing in the 'D' of Amsterdam

Our week’s stay at “The Poet Hotel” has been a restful one.

The ship that is going to transport our RV back to the States docked this morning in the early hours, and we have been notified that the RV has been loaded onto the ship and will depart later today.  We have already purchased our train tickets for the 7-hour journey to Kaiserslautern, Germany, and we will be leaving bright and early tomorrow morning.  The only unknown in our minds for tomorrow is how we will manage 5 changes of trains.

“I long so much to make beautiful things.  But beautiful things require effort—and disappointment and perseverance.”   Vincent van Gogh


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