Chinese New Year was quite early this year – end of January – so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some cooler weather in and revisit Amsterdam. Being that I had a bit of extra time this trip, I planned on hitting up Rotterdam and Den Haag as well. I missed seeing them the last time I went and, being that they’re both less than an hour train ride from Amsterdam, they make for perfect day trips if you want to maintain Amsterdam as your base of operations.
I love Amsterdam. Well, all of the Netherlands, to be precise. The Dutch have an appreciation for everything that I love in life. Like most of Europe, history and culture is in abundance. The people are fantastic, and the fact that I have friends who live there certainly helps. The Dutch definitley understand a proper work/life balance. Holland has been a centre for publishing for centuries and as such, the populace have a love of books, evident in the many bookshops, book markets and museums dedicated to books. Being able to head off to a proper art museum or photographic museum is pretty amazing, in my mind. I went to the Rijksmuseum twice during this trip and twice the first time I visited and still, I found new things to see or just appreciate again. There’s a pretty big motorcycling scene as well. I could go on and on, but suffice to say, if you’ve not been and these types of things sound good to you, I highly recommend you put it near the top of your list of places to go.
As mentioned, I had planned on heading off to Rotterdam and Den Haag during this trip. And I did. A word of advice: the museums of Rotterdam are closed on Mondays. Guess which day of the week I went in order to discover this? Yup. Monday. Urgh! It wasn’t a complete waste of a trip though. Rotterdam is still pretty cool to just wander around.
I had far better luck in Den Haag. I managed to get to several of the places I had in mind. The Museum Meermanno was closest to the station, so that’s where I began. The museum used to be the home of a family of book collectors and most of the books on display are from this family’s collection. As a book collector myself, seeing the centuries worth of first editions they have on display was pretty exciting. How’s a first edition of Copernicus grab you? Galileo, perhaps? They have an exhibit on offensive books going on the first floor until March. I can’t really think of a more offensive book than a signed edition of Mein Kampf. Though, the colonial-minded books depicting the people in Africa were pretty off-side as well.
I could have stayed in their rare book room for hours (days if I actually had access to the volumes) but I only had the day so I hopped on the #16 tram and headed up to the Fotomuseum and Kunstmuseum, conveniently located side by each. The Kunstmuseum (Art museum) had a Monet exhibition going on. That day must have been a special one for the grey-haired set as the place was packed! The Monet exhibit was interesting but primarily focused on his water lilies. I actually found the permanent Bauhaus exhibition on the ground floor to be more interesting, and sadly, largely neglected. The Fotomuseum is well worth the trip, by the way. They have an exhibition of Dutch photographer Eddy Posthuma de Boer going on until April 26th. I had no idea who he was until seeing this exhibit but I’m glad that I know about him now.
There’s my trip to Amsterdam in a nutshell. As usual, I’ll let the accompanying photos do the rest of the explaining.