Amsterdam

Even if we didn’t want to sleep in IMG_1656Amsterdam, we did want to give it a visit. It’s too bad that we chose the hottest day of the summer (so far), and perhaps one of the hottest days ever. I think it was around 33 C (just over 91 F), but with the humidity, it was pretty awful for outdoor wandering.

July is probably not the best time to visit Amsterdam, even when the weather is cooler, as it is high tourist season (which, admittedly is a summer problem just about everywhere). The dilemma is compounded in Amsterdam because of the lack of laws regarding substances which are illegal in many other countries. This may not be an issue with the locals, but we noticed tourists taking advantage of the freedoms the Dutch are used to and acting obnoxiously out in the streets.

I would be willing to return at another time of year, maybe during tulip season, and to walk through other sections of the city. We took one Rick Steves podcast walking tour to see some of the highlights,

including the Begijnhof, an old inner court of medieval buildings. These buildings include a former convent, one of two original wooden houses in the city, and a church where some of the original Pilgrims worshipped before heading across the Atlantic.

Along one of the canals float the houseboats which contain the Flower Market with quite a variety of seeds, bulbs and blooming flowers. We wanted to buy some bulbs as a gift for H’s mom, but we were told that they would not pass customs into the US, so we just thought about it.

When the temps got too high, we decided that it might be cooler in a museum. With the divide and conquer plan, C and B chose to go to the Rijksmuseum to see the Vermeers and Rembrants (paintings I call “brown art”). H and I chose the Van Gogh Museum which is just about a block away. Although most of the art was painted by Van Gogh, the museum also includes pieces by artists who inspired Van Gogh as well as art that was contemporary with his work.

Although the museum owns The Potato Eaters, it was not on display, but we did see many self-portraits, the first of the sunflower paintings, Bedroom in Arles, and Wheatfield with Crows. The exhibition tells Van Gogh’s story chronologically starting on the ground floor. We, the rebels that we are, went to the top floor and worked our way down, but that did not diminish our enjoyment of the exhibition.

I learned that the Van Gogh cut off a piece of his ear after a fight with Gauguin, not because of a woman’s rejection, as I was once told.

I also learned the the tulips so associated with the Netherlands arrived there from Turkey. That explains all the tulips we saw there at the end of March.

Photo taken from my first trip to Amsterdam in 1980

Photo taken from my first trip to Amsterdam in 1980

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