dimanche 30 mars 2008

Mo' Amsterdam

I stayed at the Downtown Guesthouse, which was great. It was in a nice area, the canal belt, between downtown and the museum district, which was quite convenient, and there were lots of restaurants close by. I also became particularly fond of the resident cat.The cat pretty much lived in the room I stayed in.I went to Utrecht on Saturday to take a tour of the Rietveld Schroeder house, the pinnicle of the de Stijl movement in the 1920s. I studied it in a design class in college, so it was fantastic to see it up close. Rietveld was very practical and designed it to be extremely user-friendly. For example, the interior walls could be slid around to change the space on the top floor.Here is a few street shots of Utrecht.On Sunday we went to the Rijksmuseum and admired the Rembrandt and Vermeer. Although much of the museum was closed, they left the most famous works up. Rembrandt totally blew me away. One of the things he did was to make small scratches on the canvas with the back end of his brush, to make hair look real, for example. Plus both of those artists were such masters of using light. Vermeer's work was less dramatic than Rembrandt's, but was in fact very serene to look at in person. One of the works that the Rijksmuseum does not have is Girl with a Pearl Earring-- they had a small sign saying it is in some museum in the Hague.

On Friday we also went to the Van Gogh museum. There were many works there that I had never seen before. The museum states that the disease that he suffered from was epilepsy, which may be true, but it doesn't explain how he also 1) cut off his ear, 2) attacked his pal Gauguin with a razor, and 3) shot and killed himself. It seems like there just might be a little more to it than just epilepsy.

On Friday we also went to the Anne Frank house, which was, of course, heartbreaking. While we stood outside in the line, we reflected on the fact that there are still so many problems in the world which can be chalked up to Hitler. In particular, why has Germany not stepped up more in taking action to promote peace in the Middle East? There wouldn't even be an Israel if it weren't for Hitler. Sure, Germany was weak for many years, but now that it is united, it is wealthy and strong. I don't expect miracles, but I do think they could and should do more.

We left Monday, flying through Geneva. There was lots of snow in the mountains.

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