Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Photos of Amsterdam; Our Visit Comes to a Close

Sharing about our trip to London, Paris and Amsterdam has been almost as good as going again. I enjoyed pouring over my notes, choosing photos to share and remembering. Thanks for coming along.

Below I've posted a few more photos that Paige took as we walked around Amsterdam together. 

All good vacations come to an end. The rest of the trip was basically heading home. We stopped and stayed overnight in London, but there wasn't time (or energy) for sight-seeing.

Now it's time for a Visits and Verse blog break. I'll re-group and then be back in two or three weeks. I'll be sure to put a note on Facebook. 

 See you then with more visits and verse. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Last Day of our Visit to Amsterdam

After the Van Gogh  Museum and the Rijksmuseum we noticed a sign for the Diamant Museum and Coster Jewelry store across the street. I imagined real diamonds on display, but I suppose that was a naive hope. Rather, at the museum you view replicas of famous diamonds and photos of the famous people wearing the jewels. Replicas of crowns worn by all sorts of royalty are on display. 

They also sell diamonds and jewelry there, of course.

And then that was it. We were done. Our last museum, the tenth of our European art museum-focused trip. We were sort of sorry we'd run out of time on our vacation, but it's always nice to go home. One last dinner in Amsterdam, some packing and then the journey home via London. 

Below are some Amsterdam shots. Paige hopes to go back some day and take some more photos. It rained plenty while we were there, and the sun was hardly ever out. Paige would love to return and maybe even live in Amsterdam for a while. She liked it that much. I liked it, too, but I'd prefer to live with Mark in Wisconsin.
All photos below by Paige.

I'll share a few more of Paige's photos of Amsterdam tomorrow. Have a wonderful Monday, wherever you may be.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus" Exhibition

When Paige and I were in Paris we toured the Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus exhibition at the Louvre. I learned so much about Rembrandt, his culture and his thoughts on Christ as a result of that visit. The exhibition included over eighty works of Rembrandt on the subject. What an experience!

The works gained attention not just because of Rembrandt's mastery, but because of his focus on Christ's ethnicity (it is assumed he used a young Jew from Amsterdam as a model) and Christ's humanity. The portrayal of Jesus as a real man with human emotions was revolutionary at the time.

That exhibition is now closed at the Louvre, but has moved closer to home. It is currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from August 3rd through October 30th.

PD via Wikimedia Commons
 Then it comes even closer to Wisconsin. "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus" exhibition will be at the Detroit Institute of Arts from November 20th through February 12, 2012.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be heading to the State Fair Grounds in Milwaukee later today. Sally and Mickey the horse will be showing in trail, hunter under saddle, showmanship, and equitation on Saturday.

Next week I'll share a few final moments from Amsterdam, and then our trip comes to a close. Thanks for taking the journey with us. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Nightwatch and the Rijksmuseum

Our visit to the Rijksmuseum was an opportunity to view paintings by the great Dutch artist, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1606-1669. 

Self-Portrait as a Young Man by Rembrandt. 1628.

Self Portrait. 1659.

Jeremiah Lamenting Over the Destruction of Israel.1630.
The Prophetess Anna. 1631.
The Stone Bridge. 1638.

Portrait of Titus. 1658.

The Night Watch is a huge work. It measures 149in.x178in and has prominent placement in the museum. It's the most popular work of art in the Rijksmuseum. In addition, they have over twenty other
paintings by Rembrandt on display.

The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It is also known as The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch or The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq. 1642.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The famous Rijksmuseum is a short walk from the Van Gogh Museum. I was there once before, when my high school choir was on tour in Europe. I didn't appreciate art much back in those days, so I was thankful for this opportunity to go again.

My favorite art history student before we visit the Rijksmuseum

Much of the museum is closed due to renovations, but the finest works are housed and currently on display in the Philips Wing of the museum. We found plenty to look at and were not disappointed by the impact of the renovations. We still saw plenty of Dutch art.
Here we go!
The interior   PD photo by Justin V.A.Slater via Wikimedia Commons
The paintings collection includes works by artists Jacob van RuysdaelFrans HalsJohannes VermeerJan Steen and Rembrandt and his pupils.

The Milkmaid by Vermeer
Portrait of a Young Couple by Hals

The Feast of Saint Nicholas by Steen
Yes, there are a couple Van Gogh works, too. Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat  1886-87
All photos of paintings today PD via Wikimedia Commons

The museum's most famous painting is by Rembrandt. I'll share The Nightwatch and other of Rembrandt's works at the Rijksmuseum in the next post.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Art of Vincent Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Here are a few of Van Gogh's paintings that are on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. They are posted in chronological order. Many of his most known works were painted in the last couple years of his life when he used more and more color. All paintings shown below are in the public domain and shown here via Wikimedia Commons.

Paige's favorites were the almond branch painting because it was painted in celebration of Theo's (his beloved brother and supporter) son's birth and is such a happy painting, and the Wheatfield with Crows because of the depth of emotion shown. Plus, she knew it was one of his last. I love many of his paintings and especially all his blues and yellows.

Potato Eaters April 1885     An early work

Still Life with Bible April 1885

Self Portrait with Straw Hat 1887

Self Portrait with Felt Hat  winter 1887-88

Pair of Wooden Shoes, Arles, March 1888

Vincent's Bedroom in Arles  October 1888

Vase with Irises against a Yellow Background, May 1890

Blossoming Almond Branches,  Saint-Remy February 1890

Notes below are from vangoghgallery.com: 
Originally painted as a gift for his brother Theo’s newborn son, Almond Blossom is an oil on canvas painting inspired by Japanese prints with a blue background and almond branches covered in blossoms in the foreground. 
After the birth of his nephew, Van Gogh wrote the following in a letter to his mother from February 20, 1890,
“I imagine that, like me, your thoughts are much with Jo and Theo: how glad I was when the news came that it had ended well: it was a good thing that Wil stayed on. I should have greatly preferred him to call the boy after Father, of whom I have been thinking so much these days, instead of after me; but seeing it has now been done, I started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, big branches of white almond blossom against a blue sky.”
Theo named the newborn Vincent after his brother, and Vincent seemed quite proud to share this painting with him as it was a symbol of new life and the coming of spring.  In a letter to his brother Theo from March 15 of 1890 Van Gogh wrote,
“My work was going well, the last canvas of branches in blossom – you will see that it was perhaps the best, the most patiently worked thing I had done, painted with calm and with a greater firmness of touch.”

Wheatfield with Crows,  June 1890       One of his last works

Next we are on to the famous Rijksmuseum.

Monday, September 12, 2011

We Visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Paige and I took a taxi to the Van Gogh Museum the next morning. It was to be a day of three museums and I wanted to start out with fresh legs. The taxi cost was quite reasonable so I was relieved and glad for the decision.

Paige has a heart for tortured souls with artistic gifts like Van Gogh. He has always been one of her favorite painters. She’s shed tears for him, and this visit was no exception. Tears welled up (and Paige rarely cries) as she reminded me he only sold one painting in his entire life. Here we were in a museum filled with his work, viewing it along with hundreds of visitors from all over the world.  And only one painting sold in his lifetime.

Our visit to the Van Gogh museum was one of the highlights of the vacation. Paige knew the history behind some of his works and I enjoyed hearing the stories. The museum atmosphere was so pleasant—we loved our visit. We had great fun in the gift shop afterward, too.

Photography is not permitted in the Van Gogh galleries, but some photographers have been allowed permission in the past and some allow public domain usage via Wikimedia commons, plus many of the paintings are no longer copyrighted because of age.

Here's a bit of a tour in case you haven't made it to the Van Gogh Museum yet:

The Van Gogh Museum.   We purchased our tickets at the hotel, so there was no wait in line.
photo by Warrox via Wikimedia Commons

Van Gogh Museum interior
photo by Jan Tito, Dordrecht, ND via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Nick Sprakel, Utrecht, ND via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Nick Sprakel, Utrecht, ND via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Nick Sprakel, Utrecht, ND via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Minke Wagenaar, Amsterdam, ND via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Nick Sprakel, Utrecht, ND via Wikimedia Commons

Next post--A bit more of Van Gogh's genius. Then we head to the Rijksmseum.

Friday, September 9, 2011

We Visit The Scossa Restaurant in the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel

Let's talk food. 

Paige and I had walked all the way to the Anne Frank House, stood in line, taken the tour, and walked a longer way back so we could see more views and get some photos. By the time we reached the hotel, my legs were tired. The much younger Paige was tired too, so we opted for dinner at one of the restaurants in the hotel. 

The Scossa Restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine and the posted sign read "casual attire." Hurray for casual attire!

The Scossa Restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes. We sat at a table for four like the one in this photo.
photo via www.marriott.com 

Another restaurant photo.
photo via Marriott.com
The ambience was pleasant, the service excellent and Paige loved her Gnocchi with artichokes. I'm sure the Risotto was great, but it was my first time ever trying it and I discovered I'm not a big Risotto fan. My scallops on top were awesome, though. I loved those. As usual, I ordered a bottle of still water and Paige ordered sparkling water. (Whenever you order water, you need to indicate whether you prefer sparkling or still. This has been our experience everywhere in Europe so far, I think. I don't recall ever getting free water like in the US. You usually pay for it by the bottle).

What would you have ordered for your evening meal? Here's the selection of their main dishes:

Pasta and Risotto’s

Risotto Milanese € 17.50
Saffron risotto with seared scallops
Wine suggestion: Tormaresca, € 8.00
Chardonnay, Puglia, Italy

Garganelli ‘Bolognaise’ € 17.50
With truffl e and fl aked pecorino
Wine suggestion: Antinori, Pèppoli Chianti Classico, € 11.00
Toscane, Italy

Papadelle of wild mushrooms € 15.50
Mascarpone and roquette
Wine suggestion: Boeckel, Pinot Gris, Elzas, France € 9.00

Gnocchi with artichokes € 15.50
Grilled peppers and chorizo
Wine suggestion: Tormaresca, Paiara Rosato, € 4.50
Puglia, Italy

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes € 17.50
Grilled chili prawns
Wine suggestion: Masi, Levarìe Soave Classico, € 8.00
Veneto, Italy

Meat Dishes

Duck breast with Seville orange and € 22.50
a cumin gremolata

Roasted mushrooms, asparagus and gnocchi
Wine suggestion: Chateau St. Michelle, € 6.50
Stimson Estate Merlot, Washington State, United States

Veal Piccata € 21.50
With mozzarella, Parma ham and sage leaves
Wine suggestion: Boschendal, Lanoy Cabernet € 7.00
Sauvignon / Merlot, Franschhoek, South Africa

Rack of lamb with Mediterranean herbs € 23.50
Oven roasted garlic and a red wine jus
Wine suggestion: Beronia, Rioja Reserva, Rioja, Spain € 9.00

Chicken ‘Tagine’ € 23.50
With prunes, cinnamon couscous and almonds
Wine suggestion: Lapostolle Grand Selection € 7.50
Semillion, Rapel Valley, Chili

Grilled ribeye steak (250 grams) € 26.50
Wild mushrooms, green beans and roasted garlic
Wine suggestion: Beronia, Rioja Reserva, Rioja, Spain € 9.00

Fish Dishes

Catch of the day € 22.50
Daily fresh fi sh from the market

Baked Cod with braised fennel € 21.50
Anchovies, bucatini and saffron sauce
Wine suggestion: Tormaresca, Chardonnay, € 8.00
Puglia, Italy

Roast Sea Bream € 23.50
With capers, lemon, sauce antiboise and
a warm potato salad
Wine suggestion: Boschendal, Chenin Blanc, € 6.50
Franschhoek, Chili

Grilled tuna with piperade € 24.50
With herb salad and olive tapenade and
balsamic vinegar
Wine suggestion: Boschendal, 1685 Sauvignon € 6.50
Blanc Grande Cuvée, Franschhoek, South Africa

Side orders

Choose your side order: € 3.50
Country style fries, roast potatoes with
Rosemary, vine ripe tomatoes with red onions,
roquette salad with parmesan cheese

More of Amsterdam next week. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Walk to Visit the Anne Frank Huis In Amsterdam

After a short nap, we left the hotel with map in hand, having been steered in the right direction by the concierge. The Westerkerk (Protestant Church in the Netherlands) has the highest church spire in the city, and Paige used that spire to direct us. The Anne Frank House sits directly behind the beautiful church building. I wish I'd known at the time of our visit that Rembrandt van Rijn is buried in the Westerkirk Church.I did know that Anne mentioned the spire and bells as a source of comfort, but I was shocked at how close the church and the hiding place were.

A typical Amsterdam view as we walked to the Anne Frank Huis.

We weren't the only ones out that day. Beware the bicycles. They are everywhere.

We turned the corner and met the queue. No waiting in line in Europe--it's the queue. Queue up!

A closer view of 263 Prisengracht Canal . At its rear is the Secret Annex. 

The canal in front of the museum   (photo via www.scrapbookpages.com)

Another photo I took later as we walked. We were so happy the rain had stopped so we could take some pictures.

I think this was a view across the street from the side of  Westerkerk. Sometimes when you cross the road, there's a bike lane, a tram lane, a bus lane... It can get confusing.

The Westerkerk is a gorgeous building and the final resting place for genius, Rembrandt van Rijn. The Secret Annex is directly behind it and ever so close.
  photo via Wikipedia Commons

The sun came out for a few minutes after our time at the Anne Frank Huis.

The Anne Frank Huis is a museum located at 263 Prisengracht Canal. In 1940, Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father, moved the offices of his companies to that address. In a courtyard at the rear of the building is the Secret Annex where Anne Frank's Jewish Family and four others hid from Nazi persecution. They moved to the annex on July 6, 1942 and lived there until they were discovered by the Germans on August 4, 1944. Of the eight that hid there, only Otto Frank, survived the war.

In her book, The Diary of Anne Frank, the young writer reveals honestly, from her perspective, what life in the hiding place was like. I've read the book four times, once within the last year or so. It's on my Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time list.

The Diary is on display at the museum   
photo by Rodrigo Galindez via Wikimedia Commons

Anne's Diary

Visitors who have read the book before visiting the museum will definitely benefit. The crowds and the queues affect the whole atmosphere. One reviewer on www.trip advisor.com stated, and I agree, that because of the crowds a visit becomes more of a pilgrimage than a museum visit. I found it was best to visit with low expectations, then go to a quiet place later and reflect on what I'd seen. For me, it was marvelous to become a witness with my own eyes and see what I'd read about for years. Fascinating and sobering.

A statue of Anne Frank in Amsterdam, near the Westerkerk

If you have read the book, but haven't had a chance to visit the museum there are opportunities for online virtual tours, and it'll be without the crowds:
The official museum site is @ http://www.annefrank.org/

There are other easier-to-view tours on youtube, but some of the comments left by viewers are so atrocious I couldn't post the links here. Tours abound online, and I even found a short video of real-life Anne Frank before her imprisonment.