Day 4: Van Gogh

So we come to the highlight of the trip. Christmas in Amsterdam at Van Gogh Museum.

We start a bit later, Susie sleeps an extra hour and get me going at 5AM, and we do the usual things.

Breakfast is again at the hotel. The same Euro-hotel-style foods. Little less on fish, but still familiar. We burn through a few hours there. Corwin joins us. He is still in his Tibetan pirate style. He just needs a belt with various weapons and tall black boots. We have the hotel find us a cab and pop over to the same areas as yesterday.

The staff at the Van Gogh Museum help with getting Susie a wheelchair and this place as a special map called the Accessibility Map that covers how to get to everything by special and regular elevator. Yes, this is new but it does not allow for most photos. So the two takes are elicited! It is amazing that so many things are allowed in Amsterdam, but you can be busted for an iPhone photo of Van Gogh!


So we rushed on and discovered a special self-portrait section. Amazing and here are my only photos. Vincent honest painting of himself painting (he wrote the others were in fact advertising) and a photo of his palate and paints.

To see the palate was a bit overwhelming.  This is where the paintings were born.

There are special tube elevators and then regular ones. We soon discovered a new thing: Art zombies are all through the displays. We passed on the headgear and touchscreen device to get the story. With Susie in a wheelchair, we needed to hear each other so we forgo the already purchased equipment. What we found were all the points where the audio tour stopped there a herd of zombies waited. These visitors are hooked into the devices and are look at them and then look intensely at painting.  This undead of art ignores us as they appear to be completely unconnected to the real world and we have to push Susie slowly into them to get them to move-on or back up. We got used to pushing them on and they, being completely unconnected zombies, did not seem to mind. Very odd!

The glass and lights created glare on the paintings. When looking at most of the painting you had to stand at an angle to see the detail and colors. This made me a bit unhappy as I thought this could have been done better. Everything else was perfect, why not this too?

We spent four hours tracing Van Gogh’s life in paintings. The collection includes Monets and all sorts of paintings for contemporaries of Van Gogh that you can see how the work of other artists impacted and improved Van Gogh’s works. Often the write up near a painting of a contemporary would include notes of Van Gogh’s writings about the artist. We are dodging zombies the whole time.

We see towards the end the saddest paintings. There is one self-portrait, on loan and not part of the collection, of Vincent, bandaged after cutting off his ear. It is stark. Another is a painting by a friend of a happy (and whole) Vincent painting the sunflowers. This is within sight of a photo of Vincent Van Gogh’s grave. It was made as a memory of happier times. On the write up on the painting, it is mentioned that in a letter of Vincent’s he declares the painting to be a good likeness.

Food! They have a nice cafe and we had some great food there. I picked up the book that came with the tickets. It covers much of what we saw. Back to the paintings.

We take one last spin of Van Gogh, we thought, through the self-portraits and head to the special exhibit. This is three floors of works that impacted Van Gogh and taught him his craft. You can see Van Gogh copied various artists’ works but then put his own style to it.

Corwin and I are tired of standing and we have seen much of it. We collect our checked coats and get the walker back and get headed back.

Susie falls getting into the car and Corwin grabs her when she falls and twists her arm. Susie, while not hurt, is bruised.

As it is Christmas we headed over to Cafe Mooy, it is open, and have a beer and

We take a short rest. Off to dinner. Dinner is too much meat. We go to Formosa Argentina nearby.

Lastly, Corwin and I need to walk after too much food. I show Corwin the true red-light part of Amsterdam. Most of the shows are closed as it is Christmas. There is certainly a crowd that is looking for a night-life, but it is almost quiet.


(Yes, we are in the red-light district now–notice the sign is only in English)

I head back with Corwin.

Merry Christmas!

Michael R Wild

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