Amsterdam- Recollections Day 2

Breakfast in the hostel.  Corn flakes (European’s must love them, hotels and hostels alike), raisin bread, cold cuts and cheese, fresh orange juice, and really bad espresso.  As much as I love hostel breakfasts, their coffee is terrible.

Went to check out Waterloopin Market.  Lots of tourist tchochkies, bike accessories, some antiques (bad quality and overpriced), some vintage clothing. Pretty cool if you lived in Amsterdam or close enough to easily transport things home.

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Happened upon the Rembranthuis, Rembrant’s primary residencebefore his bankruptcy.  Recreated furnishings based upon his bankruptcy records (yay archival research!) He was a bit of a hounddog.  After his first wife died, he had a housekeeper/nanny that he kinda shacked up with for many years.  She eventually got tired of the situation and he got tired of her.  She sued stating that he promised to marry her, he claims he said no such thing.  Legal battle ensues as she is trying

to get some sort of alimony.  Court sides with him and she is left with nothing but her pay for her time with him.  Soon after he takes up with another pretty young thing, but this time he does actually marry her.  However, his expenditures are fair outweighing his income and in the last years of his life he is forced to file bankruptcy.  He outlives his only son by one year.  Kinda a sad end to such an artistic genius.  Unlike Van Gogh, Rembrandt was a natural artist.  He originally was to study medicine, but instead went to art school.

The museum is very well laid out.  You enter on the lowest level, where the courtyard and kitchen were.  The kitchen counters and sink were very low, the audio tour claimed it was because people were so much shorter then than now.  I know that I’ve heard this before, but I feel like I’ve also heard that it was a skewed number, like the average life expectancy in the Middle Ages.  Sidenote: the average age in the Middle Ages is low (thirties) due to several factors (infant mortality, war, childbirth), but if you survived certain milestones (infancy, childhood diseases, for young men it is war, for young women it is first childbirth), people lived almost as long as we do now.

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Anyways, the cook slept in the kitchen, in what looks like a cupboard.  Apparently, in the seventeenth century, the Dutch, and perhaps others, believed that if one slept laying flat you would experience a rush of blood to the head and die. So, in order to combat this threat, they slept in short beds and propped themselves up with massive pillows.

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Rembrandt’s studio is laid out according to a painting of his portraying himself painting.  It is a bright room with shutters to adjust the light, and plenty of space to set up an easel and subject. In this space there is also a desk and stone for mixing paints.  When I walked in a women was in the middle of explaining the different sources for colors.  Afterward she demonstrated mixing the powdered minerals and linseed oil.  Very interesting.

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When I finished in the Rembrandthuis, I headed over to the Oude Kirk.  Originally built in the late Middle Ages and into the sixteenth century.  All of the stained glass windows are gone as is most of the sculpture. Iconoclasm makes me sad.  There happened to be a exhibit of World Press Photo award winners.  I think the same exhibit was in Chicago or Seattle, because it felt familiar.  In the church I noticed that there was a cafe, and being peckish I stopped in for an espresso and a pastry.  However, I was greeted by a beautiful carrot cake.  I soon discovered that this was the first day being open for this little cafe in Oude Kirk.  Located in the old priest’s dressing quarters, the cafe is a lovely respite while exploring the church.  I hope they do well, because their espresso was well brewed and the carrot cake divine.church suffered under the Iconoclasm of the Wars of Religion in

After this I spent the day wandering in the Jordaan, a lovely neighborhood just outside of 2013-05-18 05.28.122013-05-18 05.37.21

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the touristy central canals.  There was a large market, small local shops and yummy places to eat.  I found a lovely little Italian place, Assagi.  Great pizza and a wonderful Montepulciano wine.   I love good wine.  Hell, I love bad wine.  I just love wine. After finishing my meal, I wandered my way back to the hostel for a rest.  Later, not wanting to spend the evening in, I found a near by cafe (not coffeeshop) open until 0100 and had some wine, a Tempenello, not nearly as good at the previous wine, and read for a bit.

Amsterdam…recollections – Day 1

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Arrived from Brussels. The train had overbooked first class, so I had find an empty seat and hope no one showed up to claim it.  I had enough time to enjoy a seat, eat lunch, before we arrived in Antwerp and someone showed up and want their seat.  So I  had to move to jump seat, but it wasn’t too bad…I had a window at least. I got a bit lost when I first arrived in Amsterdam, but found my way.  The hostel is perfectly located, far enough south to avoid the RLD(Red Light District), but not out of the way.  Downside… I was on the third floor, no elevator…that’s a lot of stairs.  Upside: Bottom bunk! Yay.  Naptime!
I woke a few hours later and decided to go to the Van Gogh museum for their Friday night late hours.  Glad I did.  They had music(live band), wine, and it was not too crowded.  Lovely atmosphere overall. I learned that Van Gogh was not a natural artist.  He worked very very hard to develop his skills.  It is clear that he really wanted recognition in early career, because his signature is very large and fairly prominent on his early works.  His style began with very dark muted colors,  and it was not until he visited Paris and met the Impressionist that brighter colors entered his color palette.

Bread and chocolate for dinner.  Mmmmm.  Healthy, I know.