Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

July 16th Rijksmuseum - Amsterdam

After another delicious hotel buffet breakfast we take the train into Amsterdam arriving when the Rijksmuseum opens.

We pick up our audioguides and race upstairs to the main galleries that we know will be crowded with tourists shortly. For nearly an hour, we manage to stay ahead of the throngs of tourists and view many fine old Dutch masterpieces in near empty galleries. All three of us pose in front of Rembrandt's impressive Night Watch and we immerse ourselves in the rich collection of Vermeer paintings.

Rijksmuseum Gallery
Art, Rembrandt's Night Watch

Marty John, Rembrandt's Night Watch

Art is so moved by the Vermeer's that I see tears welling up in his eyes. We examine the Girl with the Pearl Earring and Woman Reading a Letter and although John has not studied art, he is fascinated and listens intently to the audio guide. We are delighted to see him so appreciative and he tells us that he wants to study Art History. This trip, especially the museums in Italy, has whetted his appetite.

Four hours into our visit, we break for lunch in the museum cafe. The service is frustratingly slow but the food is good and an hour later we are recharged and continue onto other floors and galleries of the museum.

Ship model
 John, wrinkled but appreciative

One of the floors features a collection of curiosities and Art and John spend an hour immersed in ship models, locks and keys and all manners of contraptions. I am absorbed by a wonderful collection of baroque pearl jewelry and art nouveau jewelry.

Art Nouveau baroque pearl pendant
Baroque dragon amulet

Angel chaffing dish
We continue towards a wing featuring a first rate exhibit of Asian art and Japanese prints and as closing time nears, we do some frenzied backtracking, riding the elevators up and down to various floors and wings of the museum that we might have missed. This is when Art perceives that we are being watched and possibly followed by one or several of the guards. I am so absorbed in the art that I haven’t noticed but in retrospect, we are an unusual and somewhat disheveled trio and we have been in the museum since opening. Either many of the guards look the same or one has been assigned to watch us.

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Pearl diver, Japanese woodblock

We did not expect to spend the entire day in the Rijksmuseum but when the museum closes, we return our audio guides and collect our belongings from the lockers and allow the museum guards to relax.

I have visited Amsterdam on several occasions and when I was a girl, I remember my parents taking me to a  Rijsttafel dinner in Amsterdam. Dutch Indonesian colonists brought this cuisine to the Netherlands. A Rijsttafle dinner is a pageantry of a dozen or more small plates of meat, vegetables and rice all flavored with various spices and presented in brazier-type heated dishes. I am insistent that we splurge on one of these meals and after some inquiries and cross referencing our guide book, we choose an upstairs restaurant for our Rijsttafel experience. In a similar fashion to shared Chinese meals, the  three of us choose one of the prix fix menus. An array of dishes are brought to our table and we enjoy one of the best meal experiences of our trip.

Rijsttafel dinner 
We cross back through the Red Light district on our way to our train stop. The streets are crowded with people carrying plastic drink cups and ogling the working girls in the windows.

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