Sleep was difficult for Susie. She was up twice and told me at 4AM that it was time to get dressed. She was wide-awake in the morning!
We did the normal things–rather slowly–and got to the hotel provided breakfast at 7:15. Before that, I called Corwin’s room and got him up, and he joined us a bit later for a slow consumed but good Europe Hotel breakfast: lots of pastries, cold cut, cheese, fruit fresh and in syrup, yogurt (local), and cereal. Coffee comes from a machine. The gal in the hotel, also from Ethiopia, showed me how to make coffee. I also then let my years at the Shoe company training take over and train-the-trainer ha,d me show Corwin how to make coffee.
Everyone working for the hotel or the Rijksmuseum is in uniform. Even the gals at the coat check were in black dresses supplied by the museum. Men in fitted shirts and ties and sometimes with suits supplied by their employer. Something you seldom see in American.
After breakfast, we took a Taxi supplied by the hotel to the Rijksmuseum as we had managed to get to 9.
We got there and soon found our way. We just got scanned in, electronic skip-the-line tickets, and headed up to see the good stuff on the second floor. Soon we had seen a Night Watch and the Maiden Pouring Milk. Susie was overwhelmed by the distances and the number of things to see. I was uncomfortable as I still had my heavy coat, and all the paintings were missing! The best Rembrandt paintings were in a special exhibit with Spanish masters.
(A 1/12 sized model of a Dutch man-of-war from the people who built the full-sized one)
We headed down, found the coat check and tickets for the new special exhibit, Rembrandt-Velazquez: Dutch and Spanish Masters. The staff at the Rijksmuseum saw us struggle and got us a wheelchair and helped move Susie to the new chair. The supply them at no cost! I then pushed Susie through a stunningly great exhibition. Paintings are placed side-by-side, and you can see the Dutch and Spanish styles and how they overlap and are different.
Even on Christmas Eve, the place was busy. From what I witnessed, the new thing is to take an image of a painting you liked or thought was famous. Anything from iPhones up to expensive digital rigs is allowed. Corwin took a photo of everything he liked. I got this blur pic of Rembrandts’ signature.
My feet, after four hours of standing and pushing, was getting tired. We left the display–I bought the book in case we want to review or share it. I wanted to see Van Gogh’s works. We got lost. The place is a maze. Directions and maps are not that helpful.
The map they give you shows all the levels available in multiple languages at the information desk. Speaking English with a smile when I address them. The map shows that each floor is a timeframe of Dutch history. Usually, Rembrandt is in the Galley of Honor on the second floor (1600-1650)–but they all are now on the ground floor and first floor (numbers here in Europe as zero and one–not American 1st and 2nd floors) in the Philips Wing. All easy to find, if not needed, elevators. We managed to work it out after a fashion. We did tour the Middle Ages displays three times.
Finally, we find the three Van Gogh. The crowd parts, and we see the famous self-portrait.
It is cruder than I was expecting, but the colors brighter than the photo suggests, and the face stands out and seems three dimensional. The rest of the paintings of this time, floor 1 (1800-1900), are bright and more my style. I could have any on my wall.
We find coffee some stroopenn nearby on floor 1. A German or a Dane guy helps us take Susie down the steps in the wheelchair. He seemed quite happy to help, and Corwin practiced a bit of his German.
Refreshed, we again view Van Gogh–I wanted to see the self-portrait again. Back into the elevator, which fits just two people and a wheelchair. Often Corwin takes the stairs while I ride down with Susie.
We then tour the middle age displays–the only way back. Charlemagne’s shield, a moose horn carved and made into a shield for your arm, gets my attention. According to the write-up, it is really a later creation, but it gets my mind for a Dungeon and Dragon item. This would make a new look for a magical shield. The reliquary items are always a bit odd. Usually carrying some body part. A 1400s chainmail set gets Corwin’s attention. There are a lot of arrow-sized holes in the chain.
Four plus hours of standing, pushing, getting lost, and being a bit on painting overload, time to leave. It took us a bit to find our way out and then to find where the taxi line is, but we got back to the hotel. Our hotel is next to the police so the Taxi driver did not want to drive us up and jump the curb, I did get one policeman in a car to beep at me as I was getting out and paying. No problem.
We then went next door to the Italian and Argentine steak place. Corwin followed after I sent a photo. He showed it to the desk at the hotel and they did not know the place. He tried some more hotel staff and they said, “Twenty meters away.” We had great food there once he joined us. We shared it all.
Susie rested while Corwin and I went to see the chess store. A gaming store on Christmas Eve in Amsterdam. It was about a 45-minute walk.
The chess sets were a bit more expensive and the same I could get on-line in the States. I did not buy one (getting a refund of VAT was not something I wanted to do). Corwin did point out if I was a true collector of Scythe, a board game I have just about everything upgraded on, I should purchase the Dutch version they have on the shelf. I decided I could live without the Dutch version.
We had a drink at a local bar and then walked back.
Corwin was headed back out to Cafe 420. I, running on little sleep, went to take a nap–hours later I started on this. So I think that is a wrap.
Happy Christmas Eve!
Michael R Wild
Inntel Hotel, Room 2266, Amsterdam