Tue 22 Oct - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rijksmuseum...a mandatory destination in Amsterdam...

Today we set out early to make sure we got to the Rijksmuseum when it opened at 9am as we had read that it could be busy later. On the way we found a bakery that did fresh bread rolls with ham, cheese and tomato (so much better than a Burger King "sandwich") and we ate them at Starbucks while enjoying a cuppa.

The day dawned sunny and mild and the front of the museum looked lovely in the light. Hans looked pretty good too (hmm...), although he's a bit hard to see in this photo (yep...).

We timed it well and joined a queue for entry just before the museum opened. The lines were already building and we queued a few more times - for tickets and for checking in Hans' backpack.

We read our map and headed straight for the 2nd floor where Rembrandt featured heavily as with other Dutch masters of 1600-1700's.

This is probably the most popular painting in the Rijksmuseum. It is called Nachtwacht (Night watch) and set Rembrandt apart as he included a sense of action and movement, not a formal posed scene. It had so many details the museum provided a 2 sided card to pick out important elements.

We stood and admired it for at least 10 minutes.

In 1975 a deranged man slashed the painting damaging it badly. It was restored but one slash mark still shows as a straight line above the dog. Hard to see, it is there in black, but the restorers did an amazing job.

The room is full of paintings of national guardsmen and on a large and grand scale. You have to stand back to get the whole scenes and fortunately we had room to do this as we were early. We passed back through this room at 11.30am and it was packed. You could barely move, let alone get close to any paintings.

Rembrandt was not a shy and retiring type - he painted himself and his son, Titus, many times. Our own self portrait with his self portrait... perhaps ours is not quite as valuable as his...

Looking back down the Gallery of Honours towards the Night Watch painting. The room is impressive and also has paintings by Van Meer, Hals and some other well known Dutch painters.

We moved on into a room that featured some statues and glass wear dedicated to drinking games. Apparently the Dutch were well known through out Europe in the 1600s as heavy drinkers (has anything really changed?).

The characters all in this room appeared to be merry...

Special drinking game glasses including one that has a dice in the stem - the number the dice shows when you lift it is how many times you have to drink from that glass and finish it.

The Rijksmuseum had one room that seemed to be dedicated to more erotic paintings, which caught our attention.

Even with classical themes, like Adam and Eve being sent from Eden, they were fairly clearly depicted although in this painting it appeared that someone a long time ago had tried some censoring of Adam's bits...olden days pixelation? And Eve is covering her modesty too. Hmm...

Some history is mixed in with art - these woolen hats worn by Whalers were found on skeletons in a very old grave only in 1980s up at Svalbard, Norway. They were still intact and still on the skulls of the whalers.

Ahh...Zweden. There was a section dedicated to Dutch overseas and this painting showed a cannon factory in the south of Sweden.

We liked this picture for being honest about how the Dutch Protestants felt about the Catholics - the Protestants are on the left bank including the rich and scholarly, and the Catholics are portrayed on the right bank as being fools, austentatious and greedy.

Both are fishing for souls in the river and the Protestants are apparently winning! Note also the trees on either side as well as the colour of the sky. Hmmm yet again...

Di had to take a photo of this hound for both Bev and her Mum. The eyes say it all.

Further into the museum there was a section on the Dutch naval power and included this amazing to scale (1:72) model ship and also the read signage of an English vessel that was seized by the Dutch in one of their many wars with England.

The collections are series of art and court pieces, also furniture and porcelains. This dollhouse was to scale in all details including ceramic jugs and jewellery.

We eventually got to some pictures of scenes we recognized - Amsterdam has not changed much. This is the Royal Palace at the Dam Square. Hans wondered where the fun fair and Ferris wheel had gone...

Canal houses nearly all look the same today.

Some canal bridges too.

After 2 hours we needed a break, exited the collections and went to the cafe. We got a great table on the balcony overlooking the main atrium entrance of the museum. We shared a nice piece of apple cake and enjoyed our coffee (Hans) and juice (Di) and our break until the bill came...€14! Hmm... Swedish prices...?

However, the cost of refreshments was not putting off the crowds. The cafe was very popular.

Back into the collections on the first floor. First up a very ornamental clock, and it still worked, with the little ships at the top of the face rocking with the pendulums motion.

An art gallery in an art gallery.

Interesting weapons. The top two are portable cannons that were mounted on a tripod when used.

These portraits are from during the Ottoman period with which Holland had a good relationship. Ok, who has the missing painting?

Napoleon Bonaparte's brother, Louis Napoleon was made the king of Holland when Napoleon conquered the country. We learned yesteryday on our walking your that he only lasted as King for a few years before Bonaparte sacked him. During this time Louis genuinely wanted the Dutch people to like him so tried to learn Dutch to speak to them. Allegedly, his Dutch was initially so poor that he told the people in a public address that he was the "Konijn van 'Olland" ("Rabbit of 'Olland"), rather than "Koning van Holland" ("King of Holland"). He became forever known as the Rabbit King.

"The Battle of Waterloo"... Of course. This, the largest painting in the Rijksmuseum, shows that epic battle when finally the tides turned against Napoleon. Lots going on here...

The Duke of Wellington hears that Prussian forces are on the way for support and the Dutch Crown Prince, later. King William II of the Netherlands lies wounded on the stretcher to the left on the painting earning him the nickname "Hero of Waterloo". So that's where the pub name came from...

Little did we know that we could thank Napoleon for the metric system being applied universally through continental Europe. He more or less enforced it upon the Dutch during his rule and its uniformity and consistency then spread across to other countries. Di inspects the measures...

This painting by George Henric Breitner depicts the Single Bridge under which we passed during our canalboat cruise yesterday.

Rijksmuseum had yet another of those Vincent Van Gogh self portraits. Still, they are very cool...

Study of the one who studies...with a Monet painting in amongst the other great works.

Around 1pm, we called it a day at the Rijksmuseum and left. Four hours was enough for us and the crowds built further - we could only imagine what the crowds would be in the peak periods of July and August as there were now lots and lots of people in the lobby. Get us out of there...

And we did, to the open area / park at the back of the museum. "I amsterdam" / "I am sterdam" is the tourist slogan and in red and white colours as per below, we thought it was pretty effective. They certainly run it versions places here. The museum is in the impressive building in the background (bit a bit small for the crowds it attracts).

Here we put the D in Di. No, it should be Di in D...

We wandered back towards Hotel Mozart, picking up yet another Kroket (croquette) along the way for a snack as the apple cake earlier had been quite filling.

As we both felt a bit knackered, we stayed the afternoon inside our hotel room and just chilled. Blogging , reading and researching our route to Noordwijk.

For dinner we wanted something simple, and a €5 pasta or pizza seemed the best option for us. We wandered into a nearby Italian restaurant promoting this option but we found once inside the €5 price tag was a fake - only for a few very basic pastas - everything else was €10 plus. Annoyed we walked out.

We returned to our Italian restaurant of Sunday night, Ristorante Italiano Venezia, where they have about 20 pizzas and 20 pastas for €5 each, and were much happier with our choice. In addition, they have the typical little Italian decor which we love - including a tea towel with the Italian map. Fantastic. Reminded us of out favourite pasta place at home, Il Gondilere.

Hans ordered a calzone, same as what he had on Sunday as it was excellent then. Ready to attack...

Di chose spaghetti carbonara and reported it was as good as Il Gondoliere in Manly too (just a smaller portion which was fine by her). And she was very happy with her delicious dinner.

So, we ended up paying €14.75 including the cost of mineral water, same as last Sunday.

Very satisfied, we returned to base. UEFA cup games in football are on tonight and tomorrow night. So, in anticipation of that and the fact that we have cable TV in our room, we log off. Good night.


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