The second chapter of my European adventure is well under way!
I arrived in Amsterdam on Monday night, which was an adventure in and of itself. My flight from Scotland was delayed, which was okay, it just meant I got to my hostel later than expected. Getting from the airport to they city’s center was an easy train ride, followed by a half-hour walk through the dark streets. I got to my hostel at 11 PM and promptly went to sleep.
Two full days proved to be all I needed to check all the boxes in my “To See” list.
Yesterday was spent in art museums. My first stop was the Rijksmuseum, which is the Dutch national museum. I spent a few hours wandering the galleries, soaking in the country’s history through paintings. There were a few of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings in the collection, which were amazing to see in person.
I lingered for a LONG time in the Van Gogh Museum, which might just be one of my new favorites. I feel like I appreciated the collection more than anything I’ve seen in quite a while. Going from room to room reading about Van Gogh’s life and viewing his art, I actually felt like I was getting to know him. It was more than just empty information. I feel like I encountered a flesh and blood man. The collection was impressive–there were at least a hundred of his works on display. (To think that, in the States, just having one is a big deal!)
This morning, I got up early… but not early enough to beat the crowds at the Anne Frank House. I arrived right at opening, but the line was already stretching down the street and around the corner. Half-expecting this would be the case, I brought my Kindle and read a book during the two-hour wait. The museum was definitely worth it. To walk through the Secret Annex (entering through the original concealed door), to see Anne’s handwriting in person, to watch videos of her father reflecting on the experience… it was incredible. I was deeply moved. At the end, they had a book with all the names of the Dutch Jews who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis… the book was the size of a Bible. Over 10,000 names. That really hit me–I can’t even wrap my mind around those kind of numbers.
My second stop today was the Rembrandt House. Although not as moving as my first stop, I thoroughly enjoyed touring the rooms and studio of one of my favorite painters. Like Van Gogh, I learned a LOT about the artist that I didn’t know before. At the end, there was an hour-long video (produced by the BBC) about his later career. I watched the whole thing… partially because my legs were tired from walking all day, but mostly because it was fascinating. They examined several of his paintings in-depth, which gave profound insight into the painter’s methods.
Aside from grand museums, it’s been enjoyable just walking around Amsterdam. It’s a great city, filled with beautiful buildings and picturesque canals. The city definitely has its dark corners and dodgy bits, but I was able to avoid them.
Also, bikes! There are bikes everywhere! I have to continually remind myself to watch out for them, lest I get run over.
One of my favorite bits has been meeting locals. I had a long discussion with a man in a cafe this afternoon–he told me all about Dutch art, history, and even pointed me to some lesser-known museums (which I will have to visit if I’m ever back).
So… that’s Amsterdam!