Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two more museums before flying home

For our last full day in Amsterdam we decided to once again take advantage of our museum passes and head to the Amsterdam Museum, a spectacular building that was the site of the city Orphanage from 1580 until 1960. The orphanage was home to thousands of children. Today the museum showcases the city of Amsterdam through an interactive exhibition called, "Amsterdam DNA," which tells the city's history based on burghers caring for the less fortunate, the Dutch East India company, ships sailing to Asia and America, freedom of conscience, Cruijff and Rembrandt, slavery and war. It was an excellent presentation showing all the good and not so good occurrences in Amsterdam's past.

Our last visit was to the Rembrandthuis museum, the actual house where the great artist lived and worked for 20 years. He bought the house at the height of his fame in 1639 but lost it when he went bankrupt in 1656. When all his goods were auctioned off an exact inventory was kept that has allowed modern curators to accurately recreate the house interior. Wandering through the seventeenth-century rooms it was easy to imagine yourself back in Rembrandt's day, with small beds enclosed in cupboard-like structures and giant walk in fireplaces.

In Rembrandt's printing room we watched children enjoying a hands-on etching demonstration while in the main studio we saw the various stages in the creation of an oil paining. The floors were connected by a single narrow curving staircase, and there was something new to discover at each level.

By now it was late afternoon and time for us to take the bus to the airport. We enjoyed our time in Amsterdam. The public transportation was excellent and it was very easy to get around on foot. However for locals the most popular mode of travel is by bike. It seemed that everyone had one of these sturdy, utilitarian bikes that they rode at great speed along the bike lanes that lined every major road. As pedestrians we had to keep our wits about us! It is interesting to note that we didn't see any obese people probably thanks to the use of the bikes. Generally, people looked healthy. We didn't see many people smoking or leaving restaurants in between meals for a cigarette. Next time we will explore Holland beyond Amsterdam.

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