amsterdam

Jul. 17th, 2013 11:59 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
[personal profile] clevermynnie
I had one last trip, to cap off a month in which I visited five other countries and filled two pages of my passport: to Amsterdam! This actually got planned further back than all those other trips, before I realized that I wouldn't be able to travel much in late July and August. But I really wanted to see the newly renovated and reopened Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum, so I recruited some like-minded friends from Dublin, and we headed over just for the weekend.

The museums were great, just so good. We went early to both and pre-booked tickets, because I had heard some horror stories about lines, but we had no lines at all! I loved all the Dutch golden age stuff--Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Steen, Ruisdael--and actually there was a lot of historical context that was really helpful. And the Van Gogh museum was great; I loved a lot of what I saw, but was especially surprised and pleased to find that Van Gogh had actually painted versions of two Hiroshige woodblock prints that we have up in our house. And I loved lots of the pieces they had, and the context, though I found the omission of any discussion of Van Gogh's mental state kind of weird in the areas that focused on his later life. And we went to this concert in the Royal Concertgebouw, which is apparently famed for its acoustics. They did some Brahms variations I didn't care much about, and then the Ravel orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition which is always enjoyable, but the really amazing part of it for me was Isabelle Faust playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. I saw the piece in the program and thought, Mendelssohn, cool, violin concerto, yes! But I didn't realize until the opening notes that, oh, I know this piece, when I was a kid we had a recording of Jascha Heifetz playing this and the Bruch violin concerto and we listened to it a lot on weekends. Hearing it performed in person was rapturous.



We also had a lot of fun poking around Amsterdam, going to little shops or outdoor markets, having nice food and beer, and just wandering up and down canals. I think I was a bit prejudiced against Amsterdam, which is part of why it took me this long to get there; it's often the favorite European city for people who are really into partying, who will enthuse about the open availability of drugs and prostitutes. And okay, fine, but that's not my thing so I kind of assumed I would not click with Amsterdam. But actually, there's so much culture and history there, and it's such a lovely place, that I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed being there! I would totally go back, though in the near future I will just be sticking around Dublin, where I can enjoy lovely summer weather and have ice creams and go swimming and spot urban foxes.
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