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Published: August 3rd 2014
It's hard to believe we have been in Holland for nearly 2 weeks - with nearly 2 more to go! I'm starting to think it's just not enough time! Onward, we go...
Den Hague is home to Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and we must visit her. She lives in the Mauritshuis Museum which is named after a man who had entirely too much money and loved to flaunt his conspicuous consumption. Included in the collection are works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Steen, Holbein and other Dutch Masters. This time, we opt to leave the car at home - bad parking memories sparked a spike in the learning curve and we will take the 20 minute train instead. We are in the suburbs, after all.
As we walked toward the Mauritshuis through the House of Parliament courtyard (don't worry - it's ok. People do it all the time), we see a few people gathered by a small door. A cameraman is at the ready, as are a number of black town cars and a police motorcade. The cameraman says he "doesn't know" who he's waiting for, so we decide to wait, too. The crowd thinks it will be the
prime minister since he has been a very busy man lately with the Malaysian airline incident, and sure enough, 4 minutes later, out walks the PM of the Netherlands. He shakes hands with some of the men who walk out with him, is whisked into the town car, and the motorcycles lead the motorcade down the street. No pomp, no circumstance, and most interesting - no choosing or thinning of the smallish crowd. I'm sure there were some ssecret service types lurking about, but the gathered crowd was just a group of people who happened by. Very open and accepting - as the Netherlands continue to prove.
Excitement over, we walk towards the Maurithuis mansion, soaking in the sights. First stop, Fabritius’s Goldfinch - the same as the book by Donna Tart. A small crowd is gathered around the tiny bid sized painting which is now a favorite and quite an attraction. (not as big an attraction as the famous girl who lives here, but getting close). While small, the Goldfinch holds its own in a gallery filled with Rembrandt and Holbein. Up close, you can see the tiny little brushstrokes that make up the wings and it's almost
as if you are looking at a real bird. Fabritius was killed in the famous gunpowder explosion that leveled the town of Delft in 1654, so we pulled ourselves away from the goldfinch to find Vermeer's View of Delft. This painting is so serene and quiet with shadows up front and light shining on the town behind. It's easy to imagine why he never left Delft.
Also right there is Diana and her Companions - the goddess Diana in an quiet moment with her handmaidens. It's a little darker, and almost voyeuristic with us peeking in on an intimate act of feet washing.
Ahhh...The Girls with the Pearl Earring. She was not a real person, rather a "tronie" or a kind of stock character not intended to be recognized (unlike a portrait). Most of Vermeer's painting portray these tronies and the simplicity of every day life. Once again, the use of light and shadow mesmerize us and all we can do is stand and stare.
Time to,shake our heads, leave the beautiful world of Rembrandt and Vermeer, and enter the beautiful world of Den Haag. We had heard about the most elegant Pizza Hut- yes, Pizza Hut,
ever and it was right around the corner. Chandeliers, heavy furniture, mirrored walls- and people eating pizza. Den Haag is a nice miss of old buildings and new architecture, and once again, the 2 blend seamlessly. We walk through a China town area and now 3 styles blend seamlessly. Andhooray for the public urinal- a pee station with no privacy. And for men only.
The next day, we head for the shore in Sheveningen- another suburb of Den Haag located on the North Sea- 20 minutes by trolley so no parking woes. Sheveningen reminds me a little of Tel Aviv- giant beaches, hotels right on the boardwalk, beach chairs and umbrellas to rent. But the water? All similarities end there. Ice cold! We plow out to the shore - no easy feat since my foot is a mess and quite swollen (I dropped a shopping pull cart on my foot THREE times in one trip. My foot is bruised and swollen and I'm limping around). But I endure and push on- must dip feet in the North Sea. The beaches are so large the city has put up little "parking" signs so one can remember where their towels might
be. Back to the boardwalk to some frites and an experiment with the fishy spa. Little fish nibble your feet clean and it tickles! A little weird at first, but mostly we laughed. Others came in and we laughed with them, too. My foot was really killing me at this point, so back on the trolley to go home to rest. Off to the north to Texel tomorrow
First stop, Haarlem and the weekly market featuring cheese! We bought some fresh salami from the real sausage king, and sampled fresh off the griddle stroopwafel. The flowers are amazing and I just stand there and breathe it all in. The old town of Haarlem is hmmm...quaint? But it still has a different vibe than Delft or Leiden - I can compare it to the difference between the beach towns near me- Cardiff, Leucadia, Encinitas, Del Mar, PB- all so different, yet still the beach. We browse for a bit then head to north to Alkmaar.Tons of shopping in Alkmaar and once again, very quaint with a different feel. We stayed so long in Alkmaar that the drive to Texel now is out of the plan. We make it to Edam
Wall Sconce Mauritshuis
A little creepy, but it worked
for a dinner that included Edam cheese and headed back to Den Haag and Leidschamdam. Exhausting!
Tomorrow- back to Amsterdam and looking forward to the arrival of friends, Meecy and Rhonda!
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