Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday May 22

Well, today begins the European Adventure! Early this morning I arrived in Brussels and then took a train up to Amsterdam. I was a little nervous about making a connecting train but it turned out that the platform I needed was about 8 feet away from the one I got off at. What luck! The Belgian countryside was gorgeous to watch rolling by. The architecture of the homes is so much different than what I am used to seeing and it seems that everyone has a bike! I saw a few fields of poppies on my way in but haven't come across any tulips yet. Hopefully that will be an adventure for tomorrow. I arrived in the Amsterdam Central Station in the afternoon and made a stop at the tourist information center for a map before checking into my hotel. After that, I decided to go ahead and see the Rijksmuseum. It took me a little while to figure out the tram system but I think I have the hang of it now. There are 2 tram lines that conveniently deposit you almost at the Rijksmuseum door! There were many artists' names in the museum I recognized from my studies but also many I did not. I was taking notes on several paintings and was asked if I was studying for something. In a way I suppose I am but it is more for my own benefit than for a grade, which is a nice change! Some old favorites included Frans Hals, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Le Lorrain (who I was a little surprised to see there). Others I would like to know more about are Philips Konick, Jan Steen, and Johannes Torrentius. I also saw various large and unique pieces of blue and white Delftware as well as amazing silver works. My favorite in this category was a violin made from the ceramic material, it was beautiful. The Rembrandts and Vermeers also caught my eye; how could they not? I was not expecting the Vermeer paintings to be the size they were, but they all still have the same serene effect. "Woman Reading a Letter" by Vermeer was actually the first painting I ever saw by him in a book, to finally see it up close was absolutely amazing. The Night Watch was also incredible to stand in front of. The painting hung opposite a large Frans Hals, and was clearly winning the popularity contest, similar to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. There were so many details in the real thing that I had never noticed or stopped to consider while looking at small pictures of the painting. I am still amazed I have finally gotten to see some of these works of art. Tomorrow I am taking a day trip out to the Hague and Delft to see the Mauritshuis. Until then!