During the Golden Age of Holland, art experts estimate that 20 million paintings were created here. Many of those masterpieces are now in places like the Rijksmuseum. And perhaps none are more perfectly Amsterdam as Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675).
Art fans everywhere tell me that you can enjoy Vermeer’s work in the museum, then later find yourself walking through the same scene that was captured on his canvas. And I guess, that becomes one of those “aha!” moments. And just for a brief moment, I have stepped back into the 17th century.
No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the Rijksmuseum for the Rembrandts. Many consider his Nightwatch to be the greatest artistic accomplishment of all. My meager artistic eye cannot argue. I always make a point to see it when I am here.
I have been fortunate to see many van Gogh exhibitions over the years, here and back home. But the van Gogh Museum here is the best way to enjoy his famous work. Housed here is the largest collection of the world’s most famous artist. He is my favorite, too. Over 1.6 million visitors end up here, so it is wise to buy a ticket with an entrance time. The collection of paintings numbers over 200, with an additional 500 drawings, most having been “collected” by his brother and primary sponsor, Theo van Gogh.
Yet, world famous art is just one of the many treasures of this great city. My favorite concert hall in the world, the famous Concertgebouw is located a mere 3 wood away on Museumplein. This concert hall draws over 800,000 visitors a year, with about 650 concerts yearly, in nearly perfect acoustic conditions. Would you believe the architect, Dolf van Gendt, was known to be completely devoid of musical talent by his family? This was a period, in the 1800s, when the science of acoustics was still a mystery.
Some illustrious names to perform here: Louis Armstrong, Richard Strauss, Yo-Yo Ma, Vladimir Horowitz, Sting, Gustav Mahler, Yehudi Menuhin, Cecilia Bartoli, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Bela Bartok, and honorary conductor, Bernard Haitink.
But, who wants to spend the entire day indoors, at museums and concert halls? Another 3 wood away is famous Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest, and most popular. In 1864, a group of prominent Amsterdam formed a committee to found a public park. The bought 8 hectares of land (now 47 hectares), and hired architect Jan David Zocher. Little did they know about twelve million people would visit and enjoy the park annually.
Can you believe Vondelpark is just about across the street form our hotel? They have rules against nude sunbathing, however topless sunbathing is OK. But nothing is said about nude cycling! As you might expect, it was a hippie hangout in the Seventies, when I first visited. And for Lexi, dogs are welcome, on leash of course. Yet both gay and heterosexual sex is allowed in the park!
Notice that I have not even mentioned the Red Light District, the Old or New Sides, the Canalring, or de Pijp??