Friday, 30 September 2011

Amsterdam (Day 2 - afternoon cont.) - the 23rd September 2011

After having walked out of the Van Gogh Museum, we sat at a Café for a little while, so as to decide what to do next. Soon after we were crossing the Museumplein said to have been landscaped in  1953 and later redesigned in 1990.

Rijksmuseum seemed to be a permanent presence, irrespective of the direction we looked at. Its magnificent façade imposed itself ... even in the distance.

To our right stood the Stedelijk Museum entirely devoted to modern Art from the mid 19th century to the present day ... but all we saw was its1891-1895 Neo-Renaissance palish stone and red brick façade decorated with several rather impressive figurative sculptures of the past.

We then strolled in the Vondelpark, which was founded by a group of philantrdopic cittizens in 1864, having later been named after the 17th poet Joost van den Vondel. It has a profusion of trees and lakes. According to the city guide book it became  a sort of mecca for the hippies in the late 60s and nowadays it is said to still gather quite a  lot of people on open air concerts.

One of the lakes was surrounded by red baloons, which gave the whole scenario an air of wedding like festivity.

We then walked back to the Singelgracht and along it pass the 1902 American Hotel, well known for  the Art Nouveau interpreted approach of its façade.  

We walked a bit further to the right till we reached the Stadsschouwburg, which hosts theatre and dance performances and finally the Leidseplein, where we were told groups of street performers  usually gather to amuse both tourists and passers-by ... which is exactly what a group of break-dancers was doing ...


It must have been around seven when we left the Leidseplein and walked along the Singel  towards the Reguliersbeestraat to have something to eat before going back to the Hotel.

We stopped briefly at the Tushinsky Theatre, which caught our attention and more so when we read about the Jewish tailor from Poland whose obsession for films led him to build this magnificent and exquisite Cinema in 1921. He was later  to perish in Auschwitz without having realised how admired his creation was to become.

We walked home via the Rembrandtplein, a former butter market in whose centre stood the 19th century statue of Rembrandt ... we felt like sitting at one of the Cafés that surrounded it, but it was getting late and  we had a long day ahead ... we had realised that three days would clearly not be enough to see all we wanted to ... but we were determined to try to see and visit everything we might within the  limited amount of time ...

As we were getting ready to go to bed I looked out  of the window and surrendered to the night beauty over the Amstel ... Couldn't resist it and attempted to capture it in one last picture ...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Amsterdam (Day 2 - afternoon) - the 23rd September 2011

Soon after having visited Ann Frank's House-Museum and because we were on  Prinsengracht we  decided (as suggested in many guide books) to "explore " its 3 km length canal on foot and some of the other  Grachtengordel Canals. Said to have been designed for warehouses and artisan's housing their beauty is now enhanced by the numerous Cafés, Art galleries and houseboats.




Bicycle parking boats

We then reached the picturesque Bloemenmarkt, where vendors are said to have sailed up the Amstel  in the past to sell their flowers and bulbs directly from the boats. Although the  flower stalls are still floating it is hardly noticable.

Prior to arriving at the Museum Quarter where we had planned to see one Museum, we came across a painting on a street stall depicting a version of Van Gogh's potatoe eaters which I found to be quite interesting.

I felt that if I were to visit the Rijksmuseum I would have to spend more than a mere afternoon there, not only because it houses millions of works of Art, but mainly because the Dutch paintings, the 17th century sculpture and decorative arts on the first  floor could easily "distract" me for endless hours, this being the reason why we decided on  the Van Gogh's Museum.

 Rijksmuseum facade


Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh's paintings housed in this Museum, which opened in 1973 and most of which were ammassed by his brother Theo were really impressive. I had expected it to be entirely dedicated to his works of Art,  but soon realised it also housed other artists as well.

At the Museum shop I managed to buy a book on the letters he wrote to his brother Theo,  similar to one I had bought at an auction  a long time ago and which was stolen from me in 1979.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Amsterdam (Day 2 - morning) - The 23rd of September 2011

We left the hotel fairly early in the morning, so as to be among the first to visit Anne Frank's House -Museum.

Walking along the Amstel river heading towards the Western Canal Ring we came across the 1841 Neo-Classical  Mosen en Aäronkerk, whose towers have been inspired by the Saint Sulpice in Paris. It is said to have replaced the old original house of Moses and Aaron that hid a clandestine church in a period when Catholics no longer dared to hold services in public.

Soon after we came across the Zuiderkerk with its  rather impressive clocks, pinacles and columns, though we were told it ceased to function as a church in 1929.

Strolling along the Western Canal Ring inevitably made me think back to what I had read on the fishing settlement that took place there some 400 years before ...

A small deviation took us into the Nieuwezijds Vooburgval with its magnificent old buildings amongst which the 1895-1899 Magna Plaza shopping mall, once Amsterdam's Head Post Office, was the most impressive to look at ...

... though we were soon back into the Prinsengracht  area, just across the  1631 Westerkerk, one of the first Protestant Churches to be built in Amsterdam. Outside it there is a small statue of Ann Frank and turning to the right of it ... the secret hideout she and her family used during the plight of the Jews of Amsterdam.

The whole story of her  tragic fate is poignant but more so when you enter the  annexe  behind the swinging bookcase that was used as camouflage and get to "experience" what it must have been like for them to have had to live in permanent fear of being heard by the warehouse workers underneath.

(to be continued)