Monday, October 29, 2007

Maandag (Amsterdam)...

The steady overnight drizzle had subsided, but rain stubbornly clung to the clouds, threatening to pour if we ventured out unprepared. So, with good foresight, today became a museum day. Two of the best museums in the city lay within blocks of our hotel: the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

A nice day to catch both.

We started at the Van Gogh Museum...which as you might expect, houses the most complete collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world, plus works by his influential artists and contemporaries.. The Van Gogh floor is arranged chronologically, which allows the uninitiated to watch Van Gogh evolve. Van Gogh made a deliberate decision to become a painter...and was largely self taught. He went from novice to master in about ten years (!!!) before he shot himself in 1890. In the short period, he made over 800 paintings and over 1000 drawings.

Ate a quick lunch in the museum cafe. Did some window shopping on cute Spiegalstraat.

On to the Rijksmuseum, which is only partially open due to renovations. Still, the condensed sample of the collection is impressive (and plenty for an afternoon). Selections of art reflect Dutch history specifically during the period of the country's golden age (the 1600s) when it was a maritime and economic super power. Primary focus is on the Dutch Masters...Rembrandt, Vermeer, Steen. The most popular highlight is Rembrant's famous Nightwatch.

When we emerged from the Rijksmusem, the sun was just past setting, leaving behind pink-tinged clouds against a pale blue-ish sky. Inspired, we took a long evening walk through the nearby Vondel Park. As the sunlight quickly faded, a moist fog formed...blending the park's dense mix of paths, trees, grass, and duck ponds. The park was silent except for the whiz of bike tires on the wet paths, and the crunch of joggers' footsteps. We stumbled onto a twisting knot garden in the low mist.

Amsterdam seems to crave (or think its international visitors crave) Argentinian steakhouses...they are can't throw a wooden shoe without hitting one. So we caved and chose one that looked tiny and friendly... the simply named 'Ocho'. Beef raised on las Pampas.

Drinks after dinner. Ironically, just before midnight, Jeff's favorite song mix played...Rhianna's 'Umbrella'...wrapping up a day that threatened rain, but never committed to it.

No comments: