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Entries about amsterdam

Museums in Amsterdam

By Hannah

sunny 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Crowds at the Rijksmuseum

Crowds at the Rijksmuseum

We took a second stab at Amsterdam today, visiting the world renowned Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House. We decided against bikes this time, though.

Rijksmuseum is a huge and imposing place. During the two and a half hours we were there, we only saw one and a half floors. Whenever this sort of thing happens, we always say that it's something else to see when we come back. The first painting we saw was "Nightwatch", Rembrandt's most famous work. Even with the hordes of tourists swarming around the canvas, it was still impressive. Like the Mona Lisa, the people surrounding it sort of fade away as you take in the painting. From here, we moved through numerous seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works, pausing to admire them but not for too long, as we knew we had a lot to cover. I was constantly being tapped on the shoulder and told that it was time to move on to the next room, which I resented but accepted. It wasn't going to be like our Louvre visit, where we spent the better part of a day wandering through the galleries.

There were dozens of portraits and still lifes, as well as a number of everyday scenes, like women praying, reading letters, and picking lice out of their children's hair. Among the paintings were beautiful Delfts Blauw pieces and extraordinarily detailed furniture with inlaid wood designs. There was one room with a grand model ship in the centre, and another with delicate glass table pieces once belonging to the wealthiest families of the era.

Art sample from Rijksmuseum

Art sample from Rijksmuseum

We left the museum too early in my opinion, but I was outvoted three to one. Perhaps this was better, though, as we found ourselves waiting in line for nearly an hour in front of the Anne Frank House. We had expected this, however, and were willing to wait it out in order to see this incredible piece of history. Most of us had read her diary, and I, for one, had had a lot of trouble picturing the goings on of the Secret Annex. The tour gave us a clearer view of what the families' lives were like, and how the fear of being found behind the blackout paper, of the discovery of the secret staircase behind the bookshelf, would've enveloped them at all times. Every room had a quote or two from her diary written on the walls, and the room that Anne had stayed in was covered in pictures and magazine clippings that she had pasted there over seventy years ago.

At the end of the visit, we saw three of Anne's diaries out on display, including the red and white checked journal that she had first written in on her thirteenth birthday. There was also a section of the museum on Anne's life before she and her family had gone into hiding. Each year was marked with a photo of her, whether sitting in a classroom, posing for her passport or laughing with her family. A video of interviews played, the friends and classmates of Anne. They described her spunk, her bossiness, her charm and her zest for life. She had a boyfriend, a best friend, and many others that remembered her with a smile on their face accompanied with a knowing look in their eye. She was such an ordinary girl, and had all the potential in world. This idea, I think, is what really strikes home with people all around the world, reading her thoughts, anecdotes and perception of the world in more than 70 languages.

We entered into two very different realms of history today.

Posted by KZFamily 11:22 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam house netherlands frank anne rijksmuseum Comments (2)

Dam Bikes!

BY ABBY

sunny 18 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Each bike needs two locks

Each bike needs two locks

Today our plan was to go to Amsterdam and spend time in the city, so that we wouldn't feel like we missed out on the actual city when we went to see some museums later in the week. Getting there was relatively easy, and the tram and metro were pretty uncomplicated. We went to rent bikes so that we could get around the city, but not have to worry about parking. Amsterdam streets are very busy, with both bikes and cars, but we were glad that there were bike lanes on almost every street. In Holland it is very common for people to use their bikes as a main mode of transportation, and we really saw this in Amsterdam. We decided to start off in Vondelpark, a very popular park for people to bike, and to bring their dogs and small children. The park itself was beautiful, and there are green trees everywhere. So far in Europe we have noticed that most parks and gardens aren't as well kept as we are used to back at home, but this one was definitely an exception. We stopped for a while in the park to have a picnic lunch, as it was really nice out. The sun hasn't been shining much this trip, if you don't count our month in Kas, so we are trying to take advantage of the nice days that we've got.

After we had gotten used to the bikes in the park, we decided to head out into the city. Our first stop was Museum Square, where we found the "I amsterdam" sign and a variety of museums. We locked up our bikes and walked around for a little, taking pictures in front of the sign and of the buildings nearby. After this quick stop we biked to Dam Square to see the Royal Palace, losing my mother on the way.

Biking in such a large, busy city was definitely an experience, and even though we had a couple of mishaps (two crashes, two people lost and many wrong turns) it was still fun in the end. You can tell who the locals are, just by seeing how they deal with the number of people in cars, bikes and on foot. We saw people texting and talking on the phone as they rode down the street, barely looking up as they went. But we aren't the only ones who see the busyness of it all, as I heard one English tourist exclaim, "Bikes.. everywhere!" as we passed.

It was about three o'clock when we returned our bikes, and walked back to Museum Square where we bought some juice and Magnum bars to enjoy in the sun. When we were finished we went to the Van Gogh Museum for a little change of pace.

Van Gogh: Self Portrait

Van Gogh: Self Portrait

I found the museum quite interesting, even if I didn't like all of the work that was displayed. Most of the dark pieces weren't to my liking, and some of the bright pieces, like "Sunflowers" weren't either. One whole floor was dedicated to colour, and how they were discovering how the paint had faded since the time they were painted. Another section was on how Van Gogh used his canvases, as x-rays show that he would reuse canvases he had already painted on, when he didn't need the picture anymore. It was common for him to use the front and backs of canvases, so there were some pictures showcasing both sides. Just a few days ago we bought a cartoon book about Van Gogh's time in Paris, so I'm excited to learn more about him. My favourite paintings of Van Gogh's are "Almond Blossom", "The Potato Eaters", and "Starry Night" (which, unfortunately, wasn't displayed here).

We did a quick grocery shop as we left the museum, but from here it was back to the car. We spent the evening watching a few West Wings (what did you expect?) and then were off to bed. We were all pretty tired from today, both from the exercise and the stress of it all, but after everything, I can still say it was a very full and enjoyable day.

Posted by KZFamily 04:21 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam netherlands holland sunny biking van_gogh Comments (3)

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