New Year’s in Amsterdam

I thought the Mexicans knew how to party. Remind me of tonight if I ever again complain about noise in Mexico…

Crude street level firecrackers have been going off all day. It’s extremely loud. But I’ve been able to enjoy a lovely display of more professional fireworks right from the couch. I’m glad I don’t have to be up tomorrow because I think it’s going to be a late one tonight, what with all the popping and the carousing in the streets.

The upshot of this is that the older, aloof cat has decided I’m less scary and is currently curled up against me. 😀

This is just a taste of what I’ve been watching since it got dark today. Or yesterday, I guess. Seven hours and counting.

Museum Van Loon and the Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum)

For the last few days, I’ve been running on less sleep than I normally need, just because it’s been really high quality snoozing. But when I woke up at 7:30 this morning, about the time I’ve been getting up since I got here, I just wasn’t ready to be up. There was nothing pressing to do today and nothing opens until 10:00 anyway, so I rolled back over. Next thing I knew, it was 9:30!

I had a sloooooooow morning, enjoying my coffee and spending time with the cats. I’d already planned my itinerary for the day and I set off perhaps around 10:30 or even 11:00. My first destination was the Museum Van Loon. This is another canal house tour and I wasn’t sure I was that keen to go. But since it’s a period house that is still lived in, I felt it would be a different experience. And since Contessa enjoyed the last canal house tour, I knew I had at least one reader who would appreciate the write-up. 🙂

The museum was easy to get to. I’m starting to know my way around the main intersections and there are usually signposts telling tourists that attractions are thataway.


I passed a French bookshop with a clever name, Time Found. Obviously a reference to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

The exterior of the Van Loon home isn’t that impressive. The house was built in 1672 and has been in the Van Loon family for 400 years. It was opened to the public in 1973. The family inhabits the upper rooms, but still uses some of the lower rooms for special occasions.

It’s a very informal visit. They scanned my Museumkaart, gave me a very informative little booklet, and then told me to just wander around at my leisure.

You start in the entrance hall.

The house is unusual as this is the only staircase up. That is, there is no staircase for the servants. The handrail is made entirely of brass.

The first room I visited was the Blue Drawing Room, which had a lot of lovely pink furniture!

The Empire wood floor dates back to 1810, is in good condition, and is extremely rare.

This checkered pattern on the back of the chairs was unexpected and delighted me.

Next, I went into the dining room. The family still eats here on special occasions and also rents it out.

I was surprised by how much I liked the next room, the Red Drawing Room, since I’m not much of a fan of red.

These are the stairs down to the kitchen. I didn’t realise at this point that I was allowed to go down.

Now, we’re in the Garden Room. It was used as a bedroom and later as the family dining room.

Looking towards the Coach House.

I headed upstairs and was surprised by how rough the floors look.

Now, the sheep room, so called because of the wallpaper. It was a guest bedroom.

I love this design.

Next up is the Drakensteyn Room with its incredible wall hangings. They give the room its name as the hangings come from Castle Drakensteyn, the private mansion of H.R.H. Princess Beatrix.

Upstairs hall:

Here’s the Red Bedroom, with its interesting door. It “is smaller than the room on the other side of the landing, because of the hidden stairs behind the bed which lead up to what was formerly the servants’ quarters. In order for the two doors on the landing to face one another without compromising the symmetry of the rooms, a false door was put in… When the door is closed, it looks as if the door is directly opposite the chimneypiece. The real door, however, is next to it.”

See what they mean?

Now, the Bird Room, which served as a nursery.

I wonder where this door goes.

This room had some interesting info on the growth of Amsterdam. “Growing prosperity in the city of Amsterdam around the middle of the 17th century led to more demand for luxury carriages. Daniel Stalpaert was the first city planner of Amsterdam to add a street between Keizersgracht [which the Van Loon home faces] and Prinsengracht: The Kerkstraat. It was specifically designed to offer space for coach houses.” Remember this…

The wallpaper is what gives the room its name.

These modern glass doors between the landing and the hallway bewildered me.

I headed down to the kitchen.

The kitchen was as far away from the dining room as possible to prevent smells and heat from permeating the dining room. It didn’t matter that food was served cold.

This cupboard has mesh to keep air circulating so food would stay fresh and flies and other insects couldn’t get in. I think they’re called pie cupboards in the American South.

I went out into the garden.

Here’s the Coach House. The family only reacquired the coach house in 2012.

I kid you not, the building still smelled like horses.

Since I hadn’t really paid for my admission and this is a private house, I had decided that I would have a hot beverage in the coach house. There were several choices that included hot chocolate and mulled wine, but I went for a cappuccino.

Here’s that cat they don’t want let into the house. So friendly!

This is a garden layout. All the text has the names of plants.

Staircase leading back up.

I’m glad I visited the Museum Van Loon, but at 9 euros, I think it’s something that should only be on your list if you’re crazy about architecture or have a Museumkaart.

My next destination, the real one of the day, was the Museum of Dutch Resistance, a short distance away. I passed a particularly leaning house.

I’m glad I know they were built like that on purpose!

By the way, it was warmer today, above freezing, but very damp.

I found the museum without any trouble and was delighted that I knew I could get home again very directly without any help!

I’m really not sure how to go about with this museum write-up. This is a subject I know a lot about. I think I’m going to go with the idea that most people have some basic WWII/Holocaust history and just point out things in the exhibits that were of interest to me rather than try to set the context. If you want to know more, ask and I’ll answer and/or send you to the appropriate resources.

Let me just start off by saying that the museum is brilliantly put together. The layout looks chaotic at first glance, but is actually very logical and fluid. Everything is translated into English and the audio guide is fantastic. I can’t imagine any way the museum could have better presented the subject matter.

So Dutch resistance during WWII. After Germany conquered the Netherlands, the Dutch could collaborate, adapt, or resist. Of course, the latter are the most celebrated. I was surprised that there is no mention at all in the museum of two of who I think are the best known resistors, Miep Gies and Corrie Ten Boom, but I appreciated that I got to meet others.

The invasion of Holland was insidious. The Nazis came in gently and wore down the Dutch before their show of horror began. This explains in part why some people collaborated at first, because Holland was in the throes of economic crisis and the Nazis brought a measure of prosperity.

All through the museum, you are invited to reflect on what you would have done in that situation. I like to think I would have resisted, but I suspect I would have been an adapter. I sincerely doubt I would have been a collaborator.

Holland surrendered shortly after the bombing of Rotterdam (seen here) to prevent the loss of more civilians. Life quickly went back to normal. At the foreground, you see a man buying an ice cream.

“Ozo” (so there) became the rallying cry of the resistors. It actually meant “Orange will triumph” (Oranje zal overwinnen). Orange was the colour of the resistance.

The February Strike of 1941 was a turning point. By this time, sanctions against the Jews at begun. Starting with the trams, Amsterdam ground to a halt to protest the treatment of its Jews.

The Germans used a lot of propaganda and borrowed the letter V for victory from English. The resistance in turn took it to mean the Germans are drowning, as that word starts with a V in Dutch.

The identity card was introduced in 1941. “Every Dutch citizen age 15 and over must be in possession of such a card, with passport photo and fingerprint, and must carry it at all times. The data are recorded in a central registry. No other country in Europe has an identity card that is so technically and administratively complete.” This card gave the Germans more control over the Dutch and especially to counteract the resistance, but there was little protest against the card. Jews have a large J stamped onto their documents and have to wear a Star of David.

An order directing the person to report to a labour camp. Some people went, thinking it wouldn’t be that bad. Others went into hiding.

Examples of some possessions that would be taken to a labour camp.

Those who reported to go to a labour camp were first sent to the transit camp Westerbork to await orders to move on to other camps, like Auschwitz. Some people would write goodbye letters ahead of time. If they were called to leave, it would be without notice, so they would throw the letters out of cracks in the walls of trains and hope they were delivered. Most of these letters were very positive and hopeful in tone.

Of the 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands:

107,000 were deported, of with 5,500 survived and 101,500 died.

25,000 went into hiding, of which 18,000 survived and 7,000 died.

8,000 survived, but were sterilised or otherwise brutalised.

Survivor standing in front of a pile of bones.

As supply lines were cut off, a very complex rationing system came into being.

There were a lot of surrogate products for things like coffee and tobacco.

People got creative. This bicycle’s front wheel was replaced with a scooter wheel.

As the Allied forces marched into Europe, the Dutch expected to be liberated and defiance increased. Germany stopped playing the nice guy and switched to intimidation and violence.

When the Germans had invaded Holland, they released 300,000 (!) Dutch POWs as a measure of goodwill. In 1943, there was an announcement made that all of them would have to report back to labour camps as POWs. This led to a series of strikes. Now that the Netherlands as a whole had experienced the terror of Nazi Germany, resistance grew. This would be another turning point.

Personal effects of a man executed as an example. The Nazis thought he was a striker, but he had actually not been scheduled to work that day. That didn’t matter.

Hiking boots of a woman who escaped Holland by climbing the Pyrenees into Spain.

This razor concealed microfiches.

Going into hiding was no small feat as that meant papers had to be forged and food found.

This is a real door that once led to a hiding space.

Printing equipment for counterfeit documents.

People in the camps occupied themselves as they could. This was a chess game.

This little Christmas tree was made from a man’s bandages and the foil covering his medication.

Door of a cell in Weteringschans Prison.

As the war wound down, there was the Hunger Winter, when supplies were not coming in. This reminded me so much of the testimony of people who lived through the Sarajevo siege, about how all the trees and as much wood as could be gathered was burned for heat.

There was an interesting special exhibit just before the end about food in wartime. The Hunger Winter notwithstanding, the food situation in Holland during the occupation was not as bad as imagined because Holland was self-sufficient. People actually ate more healthily as they were getting more produce into their diets.

One of the recommendations was that people cook their vegetables for a shorter period of time to use less fuel and to preserve nutrients. People were strongly advised to not peel their potatoes, which was met with disgust. Personally, I think the peel is the best part of a potato!

20,000 people died during the Hunger Winter.

The final exhibit is about the liberation of Holland. To be brutally honest, I was really pissed off by this point that there had not yet been any mention of Canada specifically. We were just lumped in with “the Allies” and the US got a lot of individual mention, when they joined the war well after us, and only after they got attacked, and Canada did the bulk of the work in liberating Holland. I was shocked to see Canada so badly disrespected. At least, we got some mention in this final exhibit.

That was part of the Canadian flag at the time.

Destroyed bust of Hitler.

Collaborators were treated poorly, many executed without trial. Women had their head shaved.

The tour ended with this quote, “Asking yourself a question, that’s how resistance begins. And then ask that very question to someone else.”

There was another brief exhibit about Dutch colonialism, but that didn’t interest me.

I really recommend the Dutch Resistance Museum as a must see in Amsterdam. I think that it can serve equally well someone who has no knowledge of the subject as someone who is well versed in it.

I headed home into an afternoon that had become bitterly cold and passed on the Kerkstraat the entrance to the Van Loon coach house.

Couple more things of interest on my long walk home:

Where you learn to murder people?

It was another really lovely day in Amsterdam!  Very little will be open tomorrow, so I’ll probably stay in. There is a pair of museums I might do Monday and I would really like to head to Haarlem on Tuesday to visit the home of resistor Corrie Ten Boom, but I’m having a hard time coordinating with the museum’s holiday schedule. So that’s a big if. I still have plenty on my list to fill my last four days, but, really, at this point I’ve done what I wanted to do here and anything else is icing on the proverbial cake.

I’m off to make an extra special dinner to ring in the 2017. 🙂

Recap of the Best Year of My Life

If I measure 2016 by the one yardstick that matters to me, how much I travelled, it was the best year of my life. That’s hard to reconcile with how horrible the year was to the world in general, but it’s my truth.

This was a rare year of my life where there was enough money to do what I wanted to do. I prioritised paying for the big stuff, like making sure I had a roof over my head, could get from point A to point B, and that I stayed healthy. I savoured the little stuff I could afford. I refused to be a glass half empty person and bemoan that I couldn’t do X, Y, or Z because of a tight budget and instead celebrated that I was wherever I was at that moment.

I covered so much ground this year that you might have forgotten where I started. So here’s my 2016 travel retrospective.

January started in Mazatlán, Mexico. It was the second year of my life starting there and the novelty hadn’t worn off! I spent many hours cantering on a beautiful tropical beach, a weekly ritual that made me feel like the richest and luckiest woman in the world.

The lagoon at the Isla de la Piedra botanical gardens.

The lagoon in Mazatlán’s Bosque de la Ciudad.

February brought me to Mérida, in the Mexican state of Yucatán, on a scouting mission in anticipation of possibly moving there!

I saw ancient Mayan ruins!

The Mayan ruins at Uxmal.

The Mayan ruins at Uxmal.

March had me discovering the wonderful botanical gardens right in my backyard on Isla de la Piedra.

The lake at the heart of Isla de la Piedra's botanical gardens.

The lake at the heart of Isla de la Piedra’s botanical gardens.

April found me seeing Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

…and exploring Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

…and the town of Moab, Utah.

May took me to Cody, Wyoming

downtown Cody, WY

downtown Cody, WY

…with plenty of time to explore the Center of the West

Sacagawea at Center of the West

Sacagawea at Center of the West

… and a Japanese internment camp

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

… before going home to Haven…

Sunset at Haven, May, 2016

Sunset at Haven, May, 2016

… before getting on a plane and technically visiting my last Canadian province.


So June took me to London, England (really!)…

London from the St. Paul's Cathedral

London from St. Paul’s Cathedral


… and to Bulgaria!

Malak Izvor, Bulgaria

Malak Izvor, Bulgaria


July took me on two trips to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

August took me to Plovdiv

Plovdiv from Nebet Hill

Plovdiv from Nebet Hill

… and across Bulgaria in a Chevy to Nessebar

Old Nessebar, Bulgaria

Old Nessebar, Bulgaria

…to Soviet ruins



Veliko Tarnovo

Tsaravets Fortress, Veliko Tarnovo

Tsaravets Fortress, Veliko Tarnovo

…the scenic town of Teteven



Prohodna (Eyes of God Cave)

Prohodna (Eyes of God Cave)

Prohodna (Eyes of God Cave)

…the Etropole Waterfall

Etropole Waterfall

Etropole Waterfall

…and a the magnificent 15th century Glozhene Monastery.

inside the Glozhene Monastery

inside the Glozhene Monastery

September saw me quit Bulgaria for Serbia and finish the month in Belgrade.

Zemun, Belgrade, Serbia

Zemun, Belgrade, Serbia

October found me in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, BiH

Sarajevo, BiH

Kotor, Montenegro

Old Kotor, Montenegro

Old Kotor, Montenegro

…blipping through Albania

an Albanian fortress

an Albanian fortress

…staying out too late in Prizen, Kosovo

Prizren, Kosovo

Prizren, Kosovo

…not being impressed by Skopje, Macedonia

Archaeological Museum, Skopje

Archaeological Museum, Skopje


…ambling through Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona


… then through Alicante

Alicante, Spain

Alicante, Spain

… before settling in Almería for seven weeks.

The port of Almería

The port of Almería

November was spent in lovely Almería learning to live in the real Spain.

Pedestrian street in downtown Almería

Pedestrian street in downtown Almería

December saw me in Málaga for a few days…

Málaga from the top of the itinerant Ferris wheel.


…before jetting off to end the year and ring in 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands!

Quintessential Amsterdam scene


What a journey 2016 was, from getting more and more comfortable in Mexico to becoming a seasoned European traveler!

But the most amazing thing that happened? I was offered my key to Mexico. So my 2017 is well plotted. But before I return to the blistering tropical heat of the Yucatán, England, Quebec, and Haven beckon. So clichéd as the saying is, the best really is yet to come.

Happy New Year to all of you lovely readers!

Revisiting the Rijksmuseum

Work went super fast this morning and at noon, I had an 1.5 hours left to do. I was torn between finishing and then heading later to the Rijksmuseum, or going to the Rijksmuseum for a few hours as a break, then coming home to finish. The latter choice felt more logical as I would have a solid four hours to see the museum. I suspected I only needed to spend two hours there, but I didn’t know how bad the queue would be to get in. Since the job was easy and I’m so well rested these days, I could finish up at my leisure before a later dinner.

It was really cold today, with frost on the grass in the square outside my flat and at the park I cut across to get to the Museum Quarter. Rather pretty!

I wandered around the Museum Quarter for a bit and found a street lined with stores featuring expensive designers.

The Chanel store was rather pretty, faced with clear green glass tiles.

There are a bunch of food stands on the plaza between the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. I’ve been pricing burgers for a bit and the burger I got here wasn’t cheap at 6 euros, but it was decent value for Amsterdam and tasty. It got cold fast, though! 🙂

I went next door and got a cafe cortado, which came with little cookies exactly like I fell in love with at the Mediterranean place in Sarajevo, and which was just 2.10 euros! I would never have guessed I’d find the best value of coffee so far in Amsterdam right on the Museumplein.

The lineup to get into the Rijksmuseum was interminable, a sharp contrast to the day I took this picture:

I got into the special line for folks who don’t need to go to the ticket desk. It wasn’t nearly as long as the regular line and it moved much more quickly. Can’t say the same for the coat check line and I kicked myself for forgetting I could have gotten a locker instead.

Since I’d already done a fast tour of the Rijksmuseum, I had a much better and more efficient plan of attack for today. I first headed to the special ground floor exhibits. I had no trouble getting in a second time with my Museumkaart, but some folks with a different card were told they had to get a ticket since their card was not scannable. The ticket was free, but they could not jump the queue to get it. I was devastated for them.

Like in so many museums, you can’t use a flash at the Rijksmuseum, so I’m going to try to be discerning and not show too many blurry ones.

So The ground floor has exhibits from 1100 to 1600, as well as special exhibits, where I started.

The first special exhibit I visited was the model ships. These were built true to life at miniature scale in the 19th century, a time when the technology of shipbuilding was growing in leaps and bounds thanks to such inventions as the steam engine. These scale models could be used to explain innovations to a lay person and to aid in the building of the full size models.

This is the figurehead from the frigate Prins van Oranje. As you can see, it’s a man in full armour.

A lighthouse model:

I wasn’t that interested in the gun gallery (armoury), but I learned that “the Netherlands was once a leading centre for the production and trade of arms.” I have to say that some of the guns were works of art.

Then, I went to the pottery exhibit, one of my favourite parts of the whole museum. It’s actually broken into two parts, with other exhibits mixed in.

Blue and orange together make me happy.

This coffee and tea service shows that the application of enamel colours to porcelain was still a great challenge in the 1700s as evidenced by the fact that some of the pieces are more purple than pink.

This was an interesting object. It is a necklace made of four pieces of stovepipe. Surely meant as a concept and not something to wear!

The musical instruments were also works of art. They were mixed in with a few other exhibits as well.

Love this bat pin.

And the dragonfly pin. Lovely detail on the comb.

A group of violins.

The lute (I think) that has a face is a hoot!

One of the things that enchanted me on my first visit was the Magic Lantern exhibit. These were the earliest forms of modern projectors. Images on plates of glass were projected. When the plates were changed in rapid succession, you got a moving picture. Very cool! They date back to the mid-1600s!

Here are some magic lantern plates.

We got to see one in motion. The arms on this windmill appeared to be moving.

I then went into the Delftware (blue on white) exhibit, which had tiles and other decorative objects as well as practical items.

This is a roulette board.

This tile panel with a vase of flowers would have been fitted into a fireplace to give it interest when there was no fire burning.

I loved this dish with pomegranates and grapes because of the unusual colour choices the painter made. The grapes are orange and the pomegranates are blue and white.

This is a game box.

This is a beaker of ice glass, “an effect achieved by plunging the blown glass while still white-hot into cold water in order to produce cracks. When the glass is reheated and blown further, these cracks get bigger.”

There was a display of boxes.

Locks and keys:

There was an exhibit all about miniature silver things. Here are some mocked up in a dollhouse:

“Around 1700, porcelain vases of this size were extremely rare and prestigious.”

Coming back out of the model ships, I spotted this one. See the little figures on the deck? They are holograms! They were 3D and moving around. I’d never seen anything like it.

Next up was the exhibit about the Middle Ages, which I was not impressed with when I went through last time as it’s all religious art and objects. Yes, I know that was the theme of the day, but there was art that showed common life as well. So I rather blipped through this part of the museum.

Loved the colours on this painting:

A scene depicting the St. Elizabeth Day Flood.

The only known portrait of a black man in early European painting. He may have been been one of Charles the V’s archers, Christophie le More.

The ground floor of the Rijksmuseum has a picnic area for school groups and those with their own lunches. Look at that vaulted ceiling!

The Asian exhibit is tucked way in the back on its own. I don’t think people would know it’s there unless they studied the floor plan.

I loved the exhibit of kimonos.

This one was particularly unusual.

I was really impressed with this figure on my first visit. Look at the eyes!

I love Japanese pottery.

The museum has modern parts added to the old. So this would have been an exterior wall once upon a time.

Behind it was an exhibit of interesting photographs that did not photograph well. They were of collages of objects. The effect had a  3D texture that seemed innovative.

I would later see many more cabinets in this style. I think this is my favourite.

I headed up this back, almost secret, staircase to see the exhibits from 1700 to 1900.

There was a very cool light fixture that would “blossom” as it dropped down.

I wasn’t the only one who as mesmerised by it!

The staircase is really lovely. Shame its hidden away in a corner like that.

I watched the lights from the top for a bit.

Hope you can play this video!

There was more Asian pottery in the stairwell.

Next up was an exhibit of taxidermy about all the exotic critters Dutch explorers encountered.

Boa constrictor:

Capybara, an animal that is so exotic to me it might as well be a unicorn.

A llama.

So soft! I can now understand what all the fuss is about petting llamas!

Yes, that was allowed! 🙂

This entire hilarious sign is worth reading.

The museum has lost a lot of its period charm outside of what was once the main entrance, but you get the odd burst of it.

An Italian scene under umbrella pines.

A scene in the Rhine Valley. I can’t believe I remember that.

Pretty goblet.

This painting reminded me of the paint by numbers “style.”

I saw a couple more Van Goghs! This is Undergrowth:

One woman and her daughter came up to this one and said it must be Van Gogh. I knew it absolutely wasn’t, so I translated the sign for them (they only spoke French). The artist was, however, inspired by Van Gogh. The mother said that it was odd how the top is classical Dutch artwork, like dark like Rembrandt, and the bottom is Van Gogh. I explained that Van Gogh started in that darker style and then moved to the lighter, so this painting was rather like looking at the evolution of Van Gogh’s style. I hope she goes to the Van Gogh Museum!

Some wandering around later, I climbed up what had once been the entrance staircase to go see the exhibits from 1600 to 1700, including the Rembrandts and the Vermeers. There is beautiful stained glass in this part of the museum.

And more vaulted ceilings.

Looking out into the main hall of the museum where you don’t need a ticket. Yes, this is an interior space.

The hall is gorgeous. I’m glad I got this picture last time as there were too many people today to make such a shot possible!

This painting depicts a breech of the dam. I love how your attention is drawn to that bright red cape billowing in the wind and conveying the drama of the scene.

Now, a hodgepodge of stuff.

Another incredible cabinet. Pretty sure this was made from hundreds of tiny pieces of wood in different colours.

Not sure if these incredible items had a function.

This enamelled violin was just a decorative object and could not be played.

Just wow…

More wow.

I would love a four-poster bed with a canopy. 🙂

Another incredible cabinet.

The painter of this red ibis with an egg was my kind of woman. Her name was Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) and she was an artist and a naturalist. In 1699, when she was 52 and divorced, she and her youngest daughter sailed to Suriname!

Grey as it is, I really love the drama of this one.

Rembrandt’s famous Night Watch:

Vaulted ceiling in the great room holding the Rembrandts and the Vermeers.

Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. To be honest, I don’t remember learning about Night Watch in my art classes, but I definitely remember discussing The Milkmaid and how the milk being poured is the only sign of movement in the whole thing.

Another mosaic in the entrance hall floor.

This cheap crown was meant to be a gift for the King of Ardra on the west coast of Africa, but it never reached him.

Here is one of those box beds I saw at Rembrandt’s house, only his were proper cabinets with doors that shut.

A crib.

A map of the Iberian Peninsula. The bright blue lapis lazuli has faded to grey.

I loved these stained glass windows!

Her crooked eye is a lovely human detail.

Two oaks.

Another one of Rembrandt’s famous paintings.

Yet another magnificent linen cabinet. Just be grateful I’m not showing you them all!

William II, 14, and his bride, Mary Stuart, 9.

A hat with a bullet hole in it.

I was happy to see imperfect items on display.


A composition of exotic fruits.

A feast of turkey pie.

The olives are so life-like.

As is the fruit.

Next, I headed upstairs to the section about 1950 to 2000, which I missed on the first trip. This is a researched and imagined view of Moscow by an artist who had never been there.

I then had to go all the way back down the way I had come, cross the museum, and go all the way back up to the exhibit about 1900 to 1950.

Love this painting.

And these vases.

A war-themed chess set.

A numbered prison coat from the Lenzig-Pettighofen concentration camp in Austria.

I rather like this piece except for the chrome legs.

A pressed glass set from the 1930s in a style that never caught on, so not many were produced.

I was done, so I rode the elevator all the way back down. Here’s the main lobby, facing the entrance to go left to the Asian exhibits.

Behind me is just a small part of the ticket line. Imagine twice as many people (at least) waiting outside! It was three by this point, so, really, I think these people are wasting their money as the museum closes at five.

Looking towards the café.

Back out in the bitter cold and needling rain.

The Rijksmuseum is a truly incredible space. The layout definitely seemed a lot more logical on this trip than my first. I just don’t like how the 1st and 2nd floors are out of order when it comes to dates, although I surmise that it was done that way so that Vermeer and Rembrandt could have the Great Hall. This is an expensive museum (17.50 euros per adult), so I recommend spending at least three hours in it. I spent about five hours total in it and that was plenty for me. If you get a Museumkaart, you can go in multiple times.

There are a few more museums I’m interested in, but there’s nothing hugely pressing. I still have five days to fill and seven museums on my list, so  I am off to do some holiday closure research. 🙂

Also, I will have another post up in a few hours, a 2016 recap.

Rediscovering Freezing Weather

It was a nose to the grindstone kind of day and I was glad to have that excuse not to go out because it was just below freezing outside! I actually turned the heat up a tad in the house. But I got itchy feet mid-afternoon, so I threw some clothes on over my thermal underwear and headed out into my immediate neighbourhood. I have to say that with a proper hat and warmer scarf, I would have been fine, so I’m going to stop procrastinating and get said items so I’m ready for England. I’m growing fond of my new coat as it kept me toasty, especially when I turned the collar up against the wind.

I live at the intersection of two “high streets,” if you’ll pardon the British turn of phrase. This is Overtoom. The tram goes up and down it. There is a station just a few stops away from which I can take the train straight to the airport on Thursday, rather than going back to Centraal Station. I just couldn’t figure out how to get a train there when I arrived, even with my host’s excellent instructions, hence why I took the longer route. From here, I’m about 2KM from Dam Square, so definitely not “downtown,” but right on the outskirts of it, in a neighbourhood that is like its own little village. My hosts lived downtown in a canal house before moving here and much prefer this neighbourhood as there are more services.

I have no idea why, but the Dutch word for clip or snip is funny to me.

I made it as “far” as this canal before giving up. I can’t believe I used to camp at 40 below.

That is a serious bicycle!

I headed home on a side street and passed this unusual looking building:

Here is the square outside my flat. You can actually see my flat.

Closeup. That big window at the bottom is the sitting room and my two charges are in the window. My bedroom balcony is right above. The sitting room blinds are brilliant. The Dutch are not fond of blinds and the idea is that people would be too polite to look in and watch what you’re doing, but I couldn’t live on display like that! The way the blind is installed, you can still see out while sitting on the sofa and light can come in from above, but adults can’t see in. Kids, though… My front door is to the left of the window facing it, the first brown door, not the black door right next to the window.

This is the other “high street” near where I am, Jan Pieter Heijestraat. Something told me to explore it a bit further than I’ve been before and I found a small shop roasting chickens. Ever since I discovered preroasted chickens, they’ve been a staple as they are normally quite inexpensive. I missed them when I was in the Balkans and was thrilled to rediscover them in Spain, although they were quite pricy (about 10 euros or 14CAD for one, although you did get a few sides with them).

So I went into the shop and the owner was the first person I’ve encountered in Amsterdam who wasn’t fluent in English! “Please, kip” and doing a bit of pantomiming had him understanding that I wanted the cooked chicken outside and he had me follow him to pick one. Get this, the cost was 5 euros. That is is exactly what I would pay my chicken lady on Isla for a full chicken. Sure, I got rice and tortillas, too, but this chicken was meatier so it works out to the same value. What a bargain!!! That totally made it worth going out into that horrible weather. Needless to say, I hurried home and had a yummy late lunch! 🙂

I think it’ll be a quiet weekend work-wise, so I’ll see if I can finish my work not too late tomorrow and then go to the Rijksmuseum for a few hours, provided I can get in. That will give me Saturday and Sunday to travel to the museums that are further out and do a couple at a time in clusters. It’s really weird that I’ll be in Manchester this time next week, but I still have six whole days left to fill here and that feels like a lot!