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Amsterdam Escapade (and a slight misadventure) Part 1 – Museums

Centraal Station, Amsterdam

Centraal Station, Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital city of The Netherlands.  It was built in the 12th century when a dam was created to prevent the waters from flooding the city.  These waters come from the Amstel River.

Centraal Station

Centraal Station

Amstel + dam = Amsterdam.  Brilliant!

Snapping away while strolling through the city of Amsterdam

Snapping away while strolling through the city of Amsterdam

When I stepped out of the train from Centraal Station, I was greeted by century-old buildings and churches.  It felt like I was transported through time, back when women used to wear pretty long dresses and men wore top hats and carried canes.

Dreamy canals

Dreamy canals

In the instant that I saw the city , I knew I was going to love my trip.  Its fairy tale-like atmosphere, combined with funky bars and cafés, is just one of the reasons why tourists love to come here.

Bikes galore. Over 600,000 of bicycles pedal through Amsterdam.  An Amsterdammer will at least own 3 bikes.

Bikes galore. Over 600,000 of bicycles treadle through Amsterdam.

Sit back and enjoy while I share my fun and exciting trip to the land of tulips.

Classic touch on a modern Dutch architecture

Modern Dutch architecture with a classic touch.

MUSEUMS

My first destination was the Rijksmuseum.  Opened in 1885, the Rijksmuseum is Holland’s best and most visited museum. It has Rembrandt’s, Vermeer’s, and other fine painters’ masterpieces displayed in its amazing galleries.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

Floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows in Rijksmuseum

Floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows in Rijksmuseum

The Night Watch

Night Watch

Rembrandt’s Night Watch (1642) is a series of seven similar paintings of the militiamen commissioned from different artists in Amsterdam.  The painting’s original title is Archers Under The Command of Captain Frans Banning CocqThe Night Watch title was only given years later after the painting’s dark effect of evening.

Impressive hallways and galleries in Rijksmuseum

Impressive hallways and galleries in Rijksmuseum

Next stop is Van Gogh’s Museum.  Staring at this genius’ paintings may be very well similar to traveling through his troubled mind – sometimes dark, sometimes soft, and sometimes a riot of colours.

Interior of Van Gogh Museum

Interior of Van Gogh Museum

As mentioned in my Instagram, I think Van Gogh may have become self-obsessed and vain for painting many self-portraits, due to his mental illness.  Although, he explains in one of his many letters that he didn’t have enough money to pay for models.   One of the more interesting self-portraits is the one with a bandaged ear that he sliced after a big fight with his friend and co-painter, Paul Gauguin.

Enlarged "Sunflower of Arles" in the main lobby of Van Gogh Museum

“Sunflower of Arles” at the main lobby of Van Gogh Museum

Ironically, most of Van Gogh’s  art exhibits didn’t sell much – or anything at all – during his life.  It was only after his tragic death that his works became a worldwide phenomenon, thanks to Johanna van Gogh, an art dealer.  She was the wife of Vincent van Gogh’s younger brother, Theo van Gogh.  Theo died when he was 33 years old, only six months after Vincent’s suicide.

“The Bedroom” is a painting of Van Gogh’s own bedroom in the “Yellow House” in Arles, France where he lived for a short while.

Floor 1 is where you will find Van Gogh’s earliest works and masterpieces including the euphoric colours of  Sunflower of Arles and IrisesIf you take a closer look, you will notice the thick and bold fluid brushstrokes, as if the master himself just freshly painted it.

I only have photos of the hallways inside Van Gogh's Museum and its main lobby as taking photos inside the galleries are STRICTLY prohibite.

I only have photos of the hallways inside Van Gogh’s Museum and its main lobby as taking photos inside the gallery is STRICTLY prohibited.

Vincent van Gogh painted at least 2,000 mind-blowing paintings throughout his painting career.

Floor 1 (or second level from the ground floor) of Van Gogh Museum.

Floor 1 (or second level) of Van Gogh Museum. In Europe, floor 0 is referred to as the ground floor.

The last floor shows the paintings of his final years, including a tribute from some of his close friends.  Vincent van Gogh finished his painting, Wheatfield With Crows, before he committed suicide on 29 July 1890.

Anne Frank Huis (pronounced just as how we say “house”).  As you may know,  Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl who hid in the “Secret Annexe” together with her parents and her only sister for nearly two years to avoid being caught by the Nazis in the early 1940s.  This was during World War II.  The “Secret Annexe” used to be her father’s former business office and warehouse.

Door sign

Indeed it was an emotional experience for me to visit Anne Frank’s hiding place.  The “House” shows all the living quarters of the occupants: all eight of them – Anne’s family and friends.  You will have to pass through the original bookcase used to conceal the staircase leading up to their secret hideout.  Also, the original manuscript used to translate her diary is still there, although only a replica of her red plaid diary is shown due to its fragility.

The Queue outside Anne Frank Huis

The Queue outside Anne Frank Huis starts past the corner of the right building

A short video clip of what transpired in the concentration camp during WWII is shown as you go along the house tour.  Dead bodies are either scattered everywhere like fallen leaves or piled up like a hill of rubbish.  Literally skin-and-bone prisoners are weeping and walking like zombies begging for food. The clip reminded me of the movie Boy In Striped Pajamas, which I saw few years ago.  It was set during WWII where a Nazi’s son befriended a Jewish boy in a concentration camp.  The boy was later on incinerated together with other prisoners.  The scenes in that movie are very much like the ones I saw at Anne Frank’s House, and it is even more disturbing and deeply saddening to know it actually happened in real life.  You can almost already picture how Anne suffered an awful death while she was a prisoner in that camp.

Anne Frank's statuete outside the museum

Anne Frank’s statuette outside the museum

On a happier note, her father Otto Frank survived the Auschwitz and it was through him that Anne’s diary was published and revealed to the world what it was like to hide and suffer during WWII.  These remnants are a reminder to us that a war never did anyone any good.

At 8pm, the Queue outside Anne Frank Huis is still very long.

At 8pm, the Queue outside Anne Frank Huis is still very long.

My own copy of Anne's diary.  I got this book in Cebu during our trip last November 2013.

My own copy of Anne’s diary. I got this book in Cebu during our trip last November 2013.

Museum het Rembrandt Huis.  It is said that the great painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, bought this house during the success of his renowned painting, Night Watch.  He paid a huge sum of money for this house, amounting to 13,000 guilders, which at that time was a very expensive property.  Eventually, he went bankrupt and was not able to pay the mortgage of the house causing its sale including his other possessions.  He lived the remaining of his life in a rented house until his death in 1669.

Rembrandt Huis circa 1606

Rembrandt Huis circa 1606

Small bed box

This small bed box is thought to have belonged to Rembrandt’s maid as it is located in the kitchen.

According to the kind museum staff, people in the olden times slept while half of their upper bodies were leaned against the wall because they were so afraid the blood circulation would go up to their heads and they would die.  Also, the people before weren’t as tall as they are now.

Narrow staircase leading to the upper floors of the house

Narrow staircase leading to the upper floors of the house

The kitchen on floor 0

The kitchen on floor 0

The living room where Rembrandt received his guests.

The living room where Rembrandt received his guests.

I asked the staff whether the things in Rembrandt’s house used to be the same things he owned.  But, of course, the answer is no.  We have to remember that he sold his house along with the other things in it.  However, there is a depot in Amsterdam that sells really very old housewares (and they cost a fortune).  The staff didn’t mention whether it’s an antique shop, but anyone who’s fairly wealthy can buy from the depot if they want to decorate their house with old stuff.  The kitchen decors and other things that we see in the picture are still as old as it can get.  The walls and the paintings are authentic.

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

Royal Palace of Amsterdam.  This is where the Royals of Amsterdam live.  When it’s not holding any important and private function, anyone can come in and admire the grandiose palace.

Citizen's Hall

Citizen’s Hall

These shiners will stun you

Majestic chandeliers adorn the halls of the palace.  Just by looking at all the regal possessions, you can be certain of how wealthy Holland is in terms of art, culture, and money.

One of the royal chambers, if I am not mistaken

One of the royal chambers, if I am not mistaken

The furniture and artworks that was left behind by King Louis after he was dismissed by his brother, Napoleon Bonaparte during the early 18th century can still be very much seen in the palace – all 1,000 pieces of them.

On the third floor, a  reconstruction of the Night Watch and other series of the civic guard paintings hung on the walls of the Small and  Large War Council Rooms respectively.  The portrait hung in this very exact spot between 1715 and 1808 before it was moved to the Trippenhuis and now the Rijksmuseum.

Tip:  All of my museum tickets are pre-booked two weeks before my trip.  If you’re planning to visit any of the museums mentioned, buy your ticket weeks ahead to beat the queue at the ticket counters to save an enormous amount time.

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