It feels like we left years ago to travel to Europe on this latest vacation of ours. It has to be said that when you live on a small Island like PEI with its tiny population of 150K, you need to leave at least every 6 months simply to see something different.
This trip saw us travel to The Netherlands, Norway and the UK, plane, boat, train. I also want to acknowledge that in our 41 years together, our personal private travel is always arranged by Will who covers all details and always makes our travel interesting and fun.
We are well travelled and have been for 40 years, many places we visit are known to us because we either lived there at some point or been there numerous times in the past. So when we return to visit what we had not seen previously or re-visit places we want to rediscover. On this trip like others we stumbled upon wonderful restaurants and wine bars.
We left Charlottetown two days prior to our flight from Toronto to Amsterdam. We do this to avoid delays and cancelled flights out of Island, the weather in the Maritimes can be unpredictable and high winds or a storm can see cancelled flights. So we flew to Toronto and stayed at 1 King West which is a great hotel at reasonable rates and the staff is so nice.
I King West is at the cross roads of the 5 big banks in Canada, BMO, CIBC, TD, Nova Scotia and RBC all rivalling to have the highest tower or in the case of RBC infusing gold dust into its glass walls. It’s a nice area to be in and close to lots of bars and restaurants.
Amsterdam was our destination some 3 days prior to the cruise departure. It has become an expensive city like London, it remains a wonderful city to visit and is a pleasure to wander through the canal neighbourhood.
Our hotel was on Prinsengracht or Prince Canal. Of course like many cities in Europe, Amsterdam has thousands of people riding bicycles and lanes reserved to them along all streets. Not to forget that gasoline is $3.50 per litre + 23% VAT which is very expensive if you are filing up. We complain in PEI because our gas is $ 1.20 per litre and our VAT is 15%.
Of course in Amsterdam there are lots of coffee shops, good restaurants and wine bars but also lots to see and visit. We wanted to visit the RIJKS Museum, the last time we were in Amsterdam it was partially closed due to a multi year renovation. It is pronounced RIKES and the name means Imperial, until fairly recently the Netherlands had a huge colonial empire spanning the globe.
Here I am in front of the Rijks Museum around 09:00am, a little chilly that morning. We spent 2 days visiting the magnificent collections, you have to take your time to appreciate all that there is to see.
Another view of the Museum as we walked around it.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the most visited Museum in the Netherlands. It houses over 1,000,000 pieces of artwork, documents and other important items associated with Dutch history. Although the museum as an institute has existed since 1800, it was originally founded in The Hague. The Rijksmuseum is currently able to present and display around 8000 objects at a given time and regularly changes its exhibitions throughout the year.
I took a few photos of the exhibits inside the museum, it is very varied, from paintings to sculptures, fine porcelain dishes, silver objects, wooden model ships, The Netherlands has a rich naval history, etc…
Charity the Educator by Italian artist Lorenzo Bartolini, sculpted in Florence 1842. Here we see a woman in the role of the Virtue Charity as Educator with two children pointing to a book encouraging the older child to read. This sculpture was part of a theme in Tuscany at the time on fostering education.
The view from the Batavian Embassy in Paris, C.1801 by Josephus Augustus Knip. We see Place de la Concorde in Paris with the two famous building Hôtel de la Marine and Hôtel de Crillon before Napoleon had the Obelisk of Luxor placed in the square. The Ambassador of Batavia, Rutger Jan Schimmelpennick commissioned this painting. Batavia was to become a few years later the Kingdom of Holland created by Napoleon for his brother and a few years after that the united Kingdom of The Netherlands under the Prince of Orange Nassau, William I. However the union did not last in 1830 the southern part separated and became the Kingdom of Belgium.
This room exquisite room of lacquer panels and fine Chinese porcelain was created by Elias and Tobias Nijmegen in 1695, the walls mounted with Chinese screens of coromandel lacquer. It originally stood in the Court Stadtholder Palace of Leeuwarden. It formed part of the apartment of Princess Albertine Agnes of Orange Nassau and she used this room to sit and drink tea imported from China, which at the time was a luxury.
The Rijks Museum also has special exhibits and one was by Erwin Olaf who matched his own modern photos with old master paintings and gave a narrative of what it meant to him. It was fascinating because you were drawn into the dialogue with the artist and invited to reflect on what he was saying.
Berlin Portrait 1, by Erwin Olaf. I took this picture in the museum and unfortunately it is not of good quality. What drew me to this photo was the boy who strangely looks like me, our parents when we travelled abroad made us dress formally, jacket and tie and this photo brought back memories of those times when I was around 12 yrs old.
Here Olaf tells the story of being in an airport lounge and looking around at all the parents and their children. Olaf says he realized that the children had all the power, they moaned and complained, they controlled the holiday, virtually determining what was going to happen. Olaf says that he had an inspiration: he would work with those children and let them rule and banish the adults from their world.
Portrait of a girl in Blue, Johannes Verspronck, c. 1641 Oil on canvas. Here Erwin Olaf selected this portrait of a little girl from a very wealthy family and says; I think that this is one of the most extraordinary portraits at the Rijks Museum. I learned that sometimes you need only minimal means to achieve great power of expression. When you photograph you use a mechanical aid to register someone’s gaze but here Verspronck brings the subject to life by simply adding a dot of white paint in her eyes. She really is looking at you.
What I liked about this oil portrait is its delicacy and detail of the dress and how exquisite the paint brush is, it is so real you believe it is fabric you can touch. I agree that her gaze is full of life.
My visit to the Rijks Museum made me truly happy, the place is uplifting and confirmed why I so enjoy working in art galleries and visit museums. There is so much to learn and appreciate.