26 March 2009

Amsterdam & Den Haag

At approximately 3 am last Friday morning, my friend Mary Beth and I caught the St Andrews Direct to Edinburgh Airport in order to catch our flight to Amsterdam!!! We arrived in the Netherlands around 8 am local time, and we had the entire day ahead of us. 

the "i amsterdam" sign in the Museumplein
 near the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum

We dropped our stuff at the hostel (a canal boat!) and then hit the streets. Throughout the whole fast-paced weekendm, we visited the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum (where Starry Night is), the Anne Frank Huis, the photography museum (FOAM, where there was a wonderful Richard Avedon exhibit), and the Stedelijk in De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam (the New Church), where there was an interesting exhibit about religion and spirituality in modern art. 

We also took a day trip to Den Haag, otherwise known as The Hague, which is surprisingly a nice beach resort for the Dutch during the summer. Most people just think of it as the location of the International Criminal Court, but other than a bunch of UN flags on a bridge, you wouldn't have known that's where it is. We saw the Kurhaus, a very large and famous hotel, and the Mauritshuis, which was having an exhibit on Vermeer, so there we got to see Girl with a Pearl Earring

the Kurhaus from the beach in Den Haag

It was incredible how much famous art we were able to see in one weekend! I had absolutely no idea that Amsterdam was chock full of these wonderful pieces. At the modern art exhibit, I saw so many pieces or artists that I had studied last semester in Art History: Rothko, Pollock, Barnett Newman, Josef Beuys, Kandinsky, Malevich, Yves Klein, and Mondrian. I was a little museumed-out at the end, but I absolutely loved seeing everything! It just leaves you in awe. 

While there, we also took a canal boat tour, wandered around, saw the Amsterdam library (bibliotheek) which was incredibly modern and awesome!!! I could have spent a long time in the library. We saw the Sex Museum, which was seemingly just a lot of printed porn dating back to the 1870s, and we walked through the Red Light District around 1am. You can mentally prepare yourself as much as you want, but it won't help you when you actually get there. Lots of drunk and/or high middle aged foreign men running around and hitting on prostitutes, who are behind glass windows and doors in bikinis with a bed behind them. It was so surreal, and definitely on the sketchy side. 

I am most likely leaving plenty of stuff out, but I am in a rush, as today I have to pack for spring break. Tomorrow morning, Katy and I are jetting off to Prague! We will be there until April 2, when she will go to Perugia and I will head to Rome. After a couple days there, I will return to Scotland and St Andrews on the 5th! I'm only gone for a week, but our spring break lasts twice as long: I don't have class again until April 14! And 4 days after that, Butler is having their trip to Isle of Skye, and that same weekend, the family comes to visit!!!!! Woo, this is going to be a long but exciting month! 

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