"" Writer's Wanderings: Haarlem and The Rijkmuseum

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Haarlem and The Rijkmuseum

This day we were scheduled to go to the tulip gardens but because it would be King's Day on the 27th, our itinerary was changed so that we would not be in the middle of all the craziness that would be involved in King's Day celebrations. Amsterdam, we were told, would be crowded and difficult to keep a tour group together. Oh and it would be very orange. King's Day is the celebration of the king's birthday and since he is a descendent of William of Orange, the one who conquered the Spaniards, orange would be the color of the day.

Our boat was docked in Haarlem but we would be going into Amsterdam and the morning would be a visit to the RIjksmuseum followed by a canal boat ride. The museum is very large but we only had time to see the 17th century painters, namely Rembrandt and his contemporaries. That was okay by me as that is one of my favorite periods in art.

We saw the painting made famous by the Dutch Masters cigar boxes. Actually it is a painting of a meeting of a board of directors of a guild.

The center piece of this wing of the museum was The Night Watch by Rembrandt. Our guide was quite knowledgeable about all of the paintings but spent most of his time on the Night Watch telling us of how Rembrandt was a standout in his time due to his portrayal of people in his paintings. Most painters of the time painted their people in posed positions, some that were significant for their positions in life. Rembrandt painted people in action more or less. Their features and postures were not posed and they were usually somehow interacting with each other.

Rembrandt had a group of painters, students mostly, who worked with him. Some were good at painting muskets or clothing or other parts of the composition. Rembrandt was the designer of the composition and painted the expressions and hand movements. Kind of reminded me of James Patterson who doesn't write all his books but puts his name on them.

There was one sculpture that our guide showed us from the 1500s because it was an amazing work with fine detail.

Once we were led out of the museum it was a bit of a drive to where the canal boat was. We recognized the place immediately. It was in front of the Movenpick Hotel where we'd stayed on our last visit to Amsterdam. It was also the place where our river boat would dock the following day. The cruise terminal for Holland America Line was right next to it and this is where we will end our adventures at the end of May.

Somehow the canal boat did not seem as charming as it had been the first time we'd done it back in 2009. Maybe it was the graying day or the traffic in the canal. If you've never done it before it would be great but perhaps I was just tired.

We got back to the River Empress in Haarlem around one which was a little later than usual for lunch but everything was ready for us. The afternoon walking tour was to take place at 2:15 so lunch was a little hurried for most people. Bob decided that rather than watch me do the laundry, he would go on the tour. We had been to Haarlem before and not seen a lot of it but basically it too is a city just a smaller version of Amsterdam. The Corrie Ten Boom place is there but of course tickets were impossible to get and I'm sure they could never accommodate large tour groups. The apartment is quite small.

I did our laundry so we would be prepared for the next week to come travelilng from Amsterdam to Paris to Avignon and then Barcelona. After that, we could get laundry done on the cruise ship leaving Barcelona.

For some reason the dryer didn't get very hot or else I set it wrong but it took forever to get the clothes dry. Eventually I did and by that time Bob was back and it was time to get ready for dinner.  We would be sailing during dinner again and arriving in Amsterdam in time for one more excursion.

Our excursion after dinner was to take a ride on one of the free passenger ferries across the river to the A'dam Lookout a restaurant and bar at the top of a hotel that afforded a wonderful view of the city and surrounding area. For a little extra, you could buy a ticket to swing out over the edge of the building just for the thrill of it. There were a couple of takers in our group but it was so windy and cold that we opted to just wait for the stories to be told later.

We watched the sunset and then headed back on our own to the river boat. It had been a long day and we wanted to get a good night's rest for our big day at the Keukenhof Gardens.

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