Bible Museum, The Hermitage and a Blast from my Past
Yesterday I visited the Bible Museum here in Amsterdam and was treated to really unique art experience. There was an exhibit of paintings by artists who are developmentally disabled. It was obvious they’d received some instruction and exposure to sacred masterworks. I recognized some of the compositions as copies of other artists’ canvases, but executed in a much different manner. Still, there was a fresh energy in the work and some very telling expressions on the faces in portraits. Since my church has a ministry dedicated to special needs children and their families, I was impressed with the results of this program and wondered if something similiar might be done in Boston.
A large part of the museum was dedicated to a scale model of Jerusalem, a city that both unites and divides the three great monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There is a lovely garden behind the museum, a peaceful spot to contemplate the Holy Land, a part of the world that isn’t very peaceful.
Then I hoofed it over to The Hermitage, which is the Dutch annex of the famous Russian art museum. The traveling exhibit from St. Petersburg is focused on Alexander the Great. The ancient general was a favorite of Catherine the Great (possibly because they shared a last name? LOL). She even named her firstborn for him and the final canvas in the collection is of the little Russian prince dressed in imitation of Alexander the Great, complete with a little sword and breastplate. (No pressure there!) Catherine also collected antiquities from all the regions Alexander conquered, from Greece to India and all points in between.
Because it was raining, I had a late lunch at the museum, hoping the sky would stop weeping. I had a praise-worthy spinach and goat cheese quiche and something called “rocket salad” (which looked suspiciously like dandelion greens!) The rain never did let up and I slogged back to my hotel, dodging puddles and trying to hug the buildings so I didn’t get splashed as cars passed.
Then last night, we went for supper with a couple of my DH’s co-workers and it was still raining. We ducked into a bar, hoping they served simple pub fare along with several different brews. Instead, I was greeted by a pungent, sweet odor—one I hadn’t smelled since my college days. Sure enough, several guys in a booth were rolling joints, bold as brass. Marijuana is legal here in Holland, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. We headed back out into the rain (I’m not a good candidate for drug use. I have control issues. I like to be in control of me!) Eventually, we found a nice restaurant where my DH could get a cheeseburger and fries (which are served with mayonnaise here instead of ketchup) and I got a Dutch steak (topped with a spicy sauce) and salad (actual lettuce this time).
Today, my DH and I visited a couple of wonderful museums (yes, art lovers. That big blow up on the building is from a Vermeer! I’ve now had the honor of viewing 3 of the only 34 extant canvases from this Dutch master.) Tomorrow, we’ll head for Utrecht where we’ll meet up with Nynke (if you follow this blog, you’ll recognize her as a frequent commenter).
Then on Sunday, we’ll fly home and I’ll catch you up on Monday before some of my blog guests start visiting for the rest of the Moving Party.
Here’s the question to get us started talking:
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve encountered while traveling? If not while traveling, how about sharing something that surprised you in a book?