Thursday, April 16, 2009
Waterways of Holland and Belgium - Day 9
We woke up this morning in Amsterdam again. This was another day when our schedule was turned around. Originally this was the day for Keukenhof Garden, but instead we did the art museums. We had a choice of the Rijksmuseum, which is currently undergoing restoration, or the Van Gogh Museum. Harry & I chose the latter, even though I've never cared for Van Gogh's artwork, and I am glad we did. We saw the "Colors of the Night" special exhibit, and had headsets for explanations of what we were seeing. In that exhibition we saw "Starry Night" and "Cypresses", the one painting I had sort of liked. Both paintings were far more impressive in the original than in any copy I've seen of either of them. After that we went to the upper floors to see other paintings, and I discovered a couple that were very powerful, both portraits. The first was "Portrait of an Old Man", which portrayed so much emotion that he looked alive. The other was the portrait of Madam Ruillon. also full of life. She is the one character who is identifiable in the dance hall painting. I was surprised to see that Van Gogh painted in many styles. And one famous painting that I felt was really ugly in person was "Sunflowers" In the end I had to agree that this museum was a better choice than the Rijksmuseum, even though I had enjoyed that museum 40 years ago when I was last in Amsterdam. This museum visit was a good lesson in gaining appreciation with more in-depth knowledge. Maybe the Rijksmuseum will be the right choice next time we're in Amsterdam. One neat thing about this city is that it has built an underground bus garage which enables tourists to have easy access to both museums, without clogging parking lots or moving traffic.
Our bus took us on a tour of the city prior to dropping us off at the museums, and we went through other parts of the city on our way back to the ship. There is much in this city that is beautiful and unique. One of the unique things is the buildings that lean at odd angles because the wooden pilings they are built on have sunk. The example in the photo is an old synagogue.
Lunch was a wonderful buffet. What made it wonderful for me is that I had the choice of a couple of Indonesian dishes, which our eastern European chef did quite well.
In the afternoon we did the one optional excursion we had chosen, a cruise on the Amsterdam canals. We had been told that it would include wine and cheese, which it did. When we got on the boat, each table had three bottles of wine (one each of red, rose, and white), and a small plate of cheese and party mix. This experience with French wine proved that there can indeed be bad French wines, no matter what the old adage says. The other negative about this cruise is that it was very difficult to take good photos from the boat, unless you were sitting next to an open window, which meant only one person out of the four at a table could do so. These things aside, we definitely did enjoy seeing Amsterdam from the canals. One thing that had been notably missing from the Dutch countryside and cities was mobile homes. However, we did find several on the canals of Amsterdam. The difference between a land tour and a canal tour is not as marked here as it is in Venice.
The grand finale to this day was baked Alaska for desserhet, with the usual parade. The diffference was that this was the best I've ever had. We had local entertainment tonight, also - a Captains' Choir, which was passable musically, but of limited interest.