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Published: April 24th 2019
Back in Amsterdam, Easter Sunday morning. Fran and I were on a mission. Actually, it was Fran’s mission, but as usual, I followed along, however, this time with enthusiasm. I had come across an article about five lesser-known museums that we shouldn’t miss. Fran proclaimed that our mission would be to visit all five on this Easter Sunday as they were all open. What attracted me, in addition to the museums themselves, was that they were located in every quarter of the city. Maybe we could walk off the fois gras et al from last night's meal. I could also exercise my manly imperative to navigate. I could say, “follow me” to Fran and she likely would. Perfect. Map in hand, Google maps as backup, we left the dock and walked almost an hour to our first stop; not a museum, but a café, one of six ringing Rembrandt square. Rembrandt gets a lot of play in Amsterdam. I don’t know if we were in the only Rembrandt square, but this one was busy and even the street cleaners were out working. We picked the café because it was crowded. Most of the time this is
a reliable approach if no other information is available, and we were just looking for a bathroom and a cappuccino, not a fancy meal. We took the only available table outside despite the fact that it seemed as if everyone at the cafe was smoking. Cigarette smoking seems still be more prevalent in Amsterdam than in the US. We were downwind of a couple of chain smokers. They appeared oblivious to our distress. They probably weren’t. Outside, at a café, they were entitled. We drank quickly and moved on.
Our first museum was the privately owned, Van Loon Museum. This museum is a grand house on a canal, built in 1602 by one of the founders of the East India Company. There is a house, a garden in the back and a coach house. Descendants live in the upper floors. A lot of the museums in Amsterdam are private. This one shows furniture and art from that period. It gives us an idea of how the .1% of Amsterdam lived. The sundial in the garden was one hour off. Daylight savings time and all. OK, a bit interesting – a bit.
Next on the list was another grand
house in another district, the Museum Willet-Holthuysen. The house is said to brim with paintings, ceramics, glass and silver. It really gets great reviews. Hmmmm. We decided to be flexible with our mission and substitute the Foam Photography museum for Willet-Holtuysen since it was right across the canal from Van Loon and easier to pronounce. All the exhibitions were from international contemporary photographers and they were almost all portrait works, spanning nice, happy, cute little kids to a naked anorexic young woman. Looking at the anorexic woman made me think about something very serious; lunch (I know, not politically correct; can't help it; I'm a cretin).
We went back to Jansz in the Pulitzer, and sat outside, eating more of the best oysters in the world and burgers. We were treated to a classical violin concert by a group of young students and we watched the people go by. I love watching people go by. Watching reminded of Fran’s mother. I loved her dearly but when she watched people go by there was always, ALWAYS, a remark. Fran and I both learned from her to try not to do that. Try being the operative word.
Onward to museum
number four; the Verzetsmuseum (Museum of the Resistance). This was way on the other side of the city, and it took us about 45 minutes to get there. We walked through a nice shopping area, an area full of coffee shops, the Amsterdam kind, where coffee is the secondary product and pot the primary one. We walked through residential areas and a university. The streets were mobbed and all the stores open. Easter in Amsterdam is different than in the US.
The museum is in a building that used to be a Synagogue before WWII. This museum purports to take the visitors through the history of the Netherlands during World War II, from the German bombings, to the army’s quick surrender, to the Nazi occupation, to resistance and then liberation. It was done using photos and objects along with recordings that we listened to on hand-held devices. The displays were mostly chronological. Almost immediately, I felt a hard stab of skepticism. Being in an old Synagogue I was thinking about the Jews of the Netherlands. I was thinking about Anne Frank. Of course, the history of the Netherlands during the war could not have been straight forward as it
was in the displays and oral explanations. The museum did acknowledge the plight of the 150,000 Jews living in the Netherlands before occupation, 78%!o(MISSING)f whom were murdered, either in the Netherlands or deported to concentration camps to be murdered. 78%!<(MISSING)b>. Nowhere in the exhibition was there any discussion or acknowledgment of any complicity by the Dutch people. It was all the Germans. Right. There is a lot of focus on the Dutch resistance which, from what I observed at the museum, was very little, very late. I don't mean to disparage the real resistance. It's just, well, I'm sure you get it. We spent a lot of time there and by the time we both were finished, the idea of going to museum number 5 was not so exciting. We were hot and thirsty, and I was a little wound up. And we were still about a thirty-minute walk back to the ship. We declared victory.
Walking back to the ship we considered stopping for a beer but like horse to barn, we quickened our pace while anticipating a beer in the shade on the top deck. On the route back we saw a group of kids jumping off a bridge into the, what appears to be freezing and not so clean water of a canal. Kids don’t care about that stuff, do they? We walked by the gorgeous, new science museum which had this sloping roof, packed with sun worshipers. And then we arrived back at the ship, having walked over 7 miles. Dinner, sleep, and packing followed.
We left the ship for the very pleasant Schiphol airport Monday morning. After an uneventful 8-hour flight we arrived back in NY.
Tuesday morning was glorious in the City. Fran took another photo, this one of our building from one of our favorite paths in Central Park. Not bad, huh?
Well this was fun. Hope you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for reading.
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