Atlantis Alumni

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Days in Amsterdam

Tuesday we spent mainly in travel: from the ship to the airport outside Barcelona, and then when we landed at Amsterdam's Schipol Airport, from there to our hotel in the city, the Banks Mansion Hotel. This is a very comfortable accommodation, decorated in early modernist style (think of furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright), and many amenities are included, such as a free mini-bar in the room, bottles of free cognac, gin and whiskey, and best of all snacks and wine daily in the lobby. The clerks are very friendly, and the hotel is also located right in the heart of the city. Last night we had dinner at Sumo, a grilled food and sushi ‘all you can eat’ restaurant across the street, though we only had 20 dishes. One can order 50, all for the same price. This morning we toured the wonderful Rijksmuseum, where the great art works of the Dutch Golden Age (Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Steen, Ruysdael and all the others) were seen in historical context since the remodeling of this national treasure. In the 19th century part of the collection we were surprised to see gems by Monet and French art nouveau craftsmen alongside work by Van Gogh and Toroop. We had a lunch at Wagamama and then after a short rest at the hotel walked down to the Stedelijk Museum, home of modernist/ contemporary art. More excellent works by Van Gogh, the German Expressionists, Kandinsky, Malevitch and Mondrian were the highlights of the collection for me. Jim also liked reading explanations on the websites for both museums, and he was able to locate these on his smart phone. Tonight we plan to eat at a French restaurant near our hotel.

Here is an explanation of the pics that Jim posted below. If you scroll down, from top to bottom: first the exterior of the famed Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum of art and history. Then the “Syndics of the Cloth Maker’s Guild” by Rembrandt, often called by old-timers “Dutch Masters” because the painting appeared on the cigar box in yesteryear. The painting is much larger than I remembered and the figures, like those in the “Night Watch” are life-sized. They startle the viewer with their immediacy. The next painting is of the corniche or coast in Monaco, by Monet, also a masterpiece in the Rijksmuseum. The pic after that shows the Stedelijk Museum, the museum of ‘modern and contemporary’ art. Finally a canal scene in Amsterdam with a 19th century mansion. Last night’s dinner at Fyra, a ‘French’ restaurant featured a lobster salad and raviolis stuffed with exotic ingredients for Dan, and a piedmont salad with egg for Jim, followed by a codfish. These were not outstanding dishes, though the wine, a Syrah from France was truly memorable. This morning (Thursday) we will soon be headed for the Van Gogh Museum.-Dan

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