After seven years of life’s interruptions delaying our trip, Mom (Grandma Suz) made good on her 50th birthday gift to me, which was to take me on a trip abroad, wherever I wanted to go.
Mom has been quite the world traveler! With our unexpected decision to move to Italy and a pre-planned trip of hers to Amsterdam already on the calendar, we decided to start our adventure by me joining Mom in Amsterdam, a city I have never visited.
We did not let the cold and wet days slow us down as we toured the Amsterdam royal palace http://www.paleisamsterdam.nl which is still used by the royal family and distinguished guests during important events. It felt a little strange to gaze beyond velvet ropes and clear plastic barriers to view the actual bedrooms where the family and guests sleep and entertain themselves when they visit, but it was also fun. What a life it must be, to stop in for a few days and have the huge palace to themselves, with beautiful paintings adorning walls, fabulous chandeliers and statues throughout the halls, and floors inlaid with depictions of the world as it was believed to have existed hundreds of years ago. The palace is definitely worth a visit!
Mom and I are art lovers, so one visit was not enough for us to explore the treasures found at the Rijksmuseum. Besides holding the country’s national gallery, there is currently a special Rembrandt exhibition in the museum, as well as a special viewing of Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” and Vermeer’s “Melkmeisje” (the “Milkmaid”). Among other treasures, we also saw Rembrandt’s “The Jewish Bride,” as well as examples of Delftware, which is the beautiful blue and white porcelain so famous from the Netherlands. The museum also holds a famous painting of the battle at Waterloo, as well as a few Van Goghs. Even the library is impressive! I love the Renaissance painters from Amsterdam and the Netherlands. One sees many examples in Italian art galleries, for good reason. These painters were admired throughout Europe for their rich landscapes, beautiful still lives, and stunning portraits. This is another must-see stop when you visit Amsterdam. http://www.rijksmuseum.nl
I also love how the Dutch painters try to include morals in their paintings. One shows a chaotic home life around the kitchen- children imitating their raucous parents. Another in the foregound depicts food aplenty while in the background you see the Biblical image of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha. The Dutch painters were also masters of showing human movement and emotion, as well as beautiful clothing and lace.
The third major stop while we were together was a visit to Rembrandt’s home. I love to see how people lived. Peering into the tiny boxes used as beds, with wood panel doors one could shut to enclose the sleeper in darkness, warmth and privacy, was very interesting. The kitchen had a large open hearth and another tiny closed bed that would require my tall family members to sleep almost in a little ball.
Rembrandt’s house was small in width, but many levels high. The interior stairs were tiny and led to floors with varied rooms. The top floor was devoted to a large room with divided open cubicles Rembrandt used for artists to paint with good outdoor light. Alas, Rembrandt lost this house in bankruptcy in his later years. I am grateful that it has been furnished with as many of his former possessions as possible, and the public can envision better days of Rembrandt’s life when he was sought after for his beautiful works.
I was not able to visit the Van Gogh Museum or the Anne Frank house- one must reserve those tickets many months in advance, similar to trying to see Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in Milan.
We stayed at the Monet Garden Hotel http://www.monetgardenhotelamsterdam.com which was centrally located and quiet. Amsterdam was packed with tourists due to the tulip season, but apparently it is becoming overrun with tourists year round.
Of course we ate fabulous food, first at a repeat restaurant for Mom- Restuarant Haesje Claes. Mom tried the white asparagus soup, while I enjoyed traditional Amsterdam food.
This historic, cozy and busy restaurant will not disappoint. http://m.haesjeclaes.nl/en/
A second good restaurant find was around the corner from our hotel and it was fantastic . Try Restaurant Greetje http://www.restaurantgreetje.nl. I enjoyed a lamb dish and a pate’ appetizer.
The group Mom was traveling with were lively and kind to me and Mom. We left Amsterdam relaxed and ready for our next adventure, which was to explore a new city neither of us had ever seen- Budapest!