Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 1: Amsterdam

Within the last 24 hour period, I've travelled by car, plane, train, tram, bus and foot, while happily avoiding getting run over by numerous bicycles and scooters (although I did cause several bells to ring!) And did I mention that I only managed to get about 3 hours of sleep on the flight (and not all of them at once)? Needless to say, I am feeling (and worse, looking) a little tired...and crossing my fingers that I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow tonight at Heather's.

So here are the highlights for today..... My first stop in downtown Amsterdam was the Van Gogh Museum -- and after several false starts and feelings that I was lllllllost, I thought that my first stop at the museum should be the cafe for lunch! Once I was refueled, I set out to explore this small museum.

I met someone in the airport last night who had been before and she said that her favorite part was the chronological exhibit of a number of Van Gogh's self-portraits ('you could almost watch him go crazy..." she told me), so I was a little disappointed that the self portraits were not displayed in this way. But all was not lost-- everything else was wonderful...and I was so fascinated by how unfamiliar I was with his work (apart from the well known pieces) and his life (not counting the ear amputation).

In addition to the permanent collection of paintings that are displayed chronologically (which was so neat to see his progression as artist, notice the different styles, techniques, colours, etc.), they also had a special exhibit where they, in a sense, CSIed some of his works and discovered that some past assumptions (regarding when they had been painted, who subjects were, etc.) had been incorrect. It was very interreting. Also interesting were a couple of things that might be particularly interesting to rug hookers: (1) he had purchased an inferior supply of paint at one time and the pigments had faded to practically nothing over time (but these were more pinks, reds and purples -- not the blue that is more common in rug hooking), and (2) he kept a special box with balls of yarn inside and he supposedly wound up these mini balls of different colour combinations to see how they would influence one another (e.g. Same yellow with a variety of different purples to choose which one he would use in his painting), and be able to reference it. Kind of a neat idea, I thought....

From there, I made my way up to the Museum of Bags and Purses. After accidentally discovering that such a place existed just a couple of short weeks ago, it was instantly added to my itinerary. :-). What a collection! It made for a very interesting stop, filled with much eye candy. My only regret is that they (as well as the other two museums that I went to today) prohibit I will have rely on my memory (and careful reviews of each places website for gentle reminders).

My final planned stop for the day was the Anne Frank House. A very worthwhile stop and I found (again) that there was much I didn't really know - apart from the basics. I was glad that I didn't really do a lot of research and study beforehand because I wanted to be able to experience it first hand and with fresh eyes. Mission accomplished.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't make it to the Ryjk Museum. But by the same token, I would have been only able to see a small portion of it before I ran out of time or ability to receive visual stimulation. Instead each of the 3 places I went today were small enough that I left feeling as though I had had a complete experience.

Although I still had a little more time I could spend downtown, I was feeling a little spent, and so decided to come back to the airport early instead. The next two weeks are going to be busy I'm trying to pace myself. Having an extra 1/2 hour at the gate helps explain why this post is so lengthy! :-)