Let’s just say that I was somewhat draggin’ on the morning of my second day in this naughty but adorable city. So I scratched my plans of getting up early to beat the lines at the Anne Frank House, and pressed snooze. Six times. When I finally drew back the curtains and saw that it was a seriously perfect day outside, I threw myself together, hustled down to the hotel restaurant, and proceeded to eat my weight in Dutch apple pancakes. And no, I did not take a photo, as that would have required letting go of the fork. (It was very much a Sophie’s Choice kind of moment. Except not really. Because when it comes to pancakes, Dutch or otherwise, what choice is there really?)
My first stop was the Rembrandt House Museum. (Apparently, I can not get enough of going to famous dead people’s houses. And as I type this, it has just dawned on me that America must be chuck-full of famous dead people’s houses, and that they are probably just as cool as European dead people’s houses. I smell a trip to Memphis, y’all!)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669) is widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest artists of the 17th century. While he was a brilliant painter and print maker, his mastery of etching, in my opinion, was the truest showcase of his talent.
The museum, the house in which Rembrandt lived and worked from 1638 to 1658, was really cool. It was beautifully restored on the outside, and meticulously restored and restaged on the inside. The result being a most accurate representation of what the house was like when Rembrandt and his family lived there, more than 300 years ago. This sense of stepping through time is what I so love about visiting these types of museums. The kitchen was my favorite of all the rooms. There was so much to touch! You could run your hand along the rough stone sink, the massive fireplace mantle, the sideboards and maid’s bed chamber, and the latch on the small door leading to the courtyard at the back of the house.
A man ahead of his time, Rembrandt bought the house in 1639 for thirteen thousand guilders, which was apparently a massive amount of money back then, particularly for an artist. He bought it on credit, and when he couldn’t pay it off, went bankrupt and lost everything. But he did leave us this awesome museum, a collection of beautiful and priceless works of art, and his stamp of genius on centuries of future artists. Which is why I’m sure that he would be totally psyched to know that in the summer of 2012, some jackass was getting all sorts of pissed-off because they couldn’t find a Girl With a Peal Earring magnet for their refrigerator in the museum store. And by some jackass, I mean me.
(Whatever, Internet. Until this trip, most of what I knew about Dutch painters I learned from Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. You don’t have to get up all in my grill about it.)
Speaking of ScarJo…. you know that she is so a post-baby Jessica Simpson ready to happen, right? I mean, that girl is stacked — and that just doesn’t end well. At least not by Hollywood’s standards. (For more on my deeply rooted envy and resentment of curvy girls, read here.)
Having settled for a magnet of the Dutch countryside instead, I made my way along the canal to a lunch spot I had read about on tripadvisor.com — the Greenwoods English Tea Room & Restaurant.
It did not disappoint. I opted for the weekly sandwich special, and was delighted to find the food fresh and delicious. The sun-dried tomatoes, in particular, were some of the best I had ever tasted. The décor was fun and hip, and the staff friendly and helpful. The restaurant also has outdoor seating right along the canal, but there was construction going on next door and so I sat inside. This one is a no brainer. Put it on your list for lunch on a sunny day.
Given how much there was to discover just by walking around the canals and surrounding side streets, I decided to skip the major museums. With the exception of the Van Gogh.
Vincent van Gogh’s story is fascinating. At the age of 27, with no formal training, he decided to become an artist. Literally, one day he just said, “hey, this evangelism thing just isn’t working out for me, so I’m going to paint some shit and then go sell it. Yeah, that sounds good.” And then he learned technique, created over 2,100 works, sold some, had a psychotic breakdown, got into a huge fight with Gauguin, cut off a part of his own ear, checked himself into an asylum, and died. All in just ten years. And now he has his own museum. If that’s not The Secret at work, I don’t know what is. If he were around today, he would so have his own show on the OWN network.
Like the Magritte in Brussels, the Van Gogh Museum allows you to truly immerse yourself into the story of a particular artist. You are able to learn much about his life, his development of his craft, and his relationship with, and influence on, the artistic world of his time. Me likey Van Gogh Museum. You go here.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening wearing out the soles of my Geox trainers. Exhausted, and a bit crabby, I decided not to over-think dinner and bounced to a restaurant across the street from my hotel, P.KING.
The food was blah, but things picked up when the new love of my life showed up to join me for dinner.
Actually, the best part of dinner were the ten minutes I had to spend looking at this guy’s non-existent ass when I first walked in.
I swear to you, he must have explained every single item on the menu to the two yahoos at the table. I’m guessing they had never eaten in a restaurant before because they were asking questions like, “what is soup”. I was on the verge of seating myself and taking my own order down to the kitchen, when I noticed something kind of neat. The restaurant’s satellite radio was tuned to an 80s station and Michael Jackson’s Beat It was on. There was a german teenager, and a woman who must have been her grand-mother, waiting ahead of me, and all three of us were quietly tapping our feet and bopping our heads along to the music. It was like at any minute now we were going to break into a mini-flash mob and Thriller-stomp-and-drag our asses all over the streets of Amsterdam. I loved the fact that we were three generations of women, from different parts of the world, sharing a moment of mutual love of the late King of Pop.
Oh Michael, you crazy-asss unifier you.