MONNICKENDAM to AMSTERDAM…
Friday-Monday, April 26-29, 2019
After sprucing up JUANONA with new bottom paint
and John’s repairing of the keel,
Jim carefully launched her
after Max taking a ride to the top of the mast for affixing the repaired wind instrument.
A successful launch and some good-byes
And, we’re off! Although, only for a short distance(16 miles) to Amsterdam Marina located a free ferry ride
across the harbor to the city center.
This marina offers great amenities, including, Anne, a bathtub (!), private showers, AND my fav: washing machines!
We took the opportunity to revisit some sites and explore new ones, such as Micropia, a museum focused on microbes.
And, where’s there an opportunity to use my most agreeable model…
A bit bizarre and one I’d recommend as a second (third?) tier museum; but, it provided some interesting tidbits such as the fact that all species on earth “share a single ancestor: an ancient bacterium… the same hereditary material within their cells: DNA.”
The museum featured a microbe body scan where Max discovered he carried 168 trillion microbes.
By selecting a specific body part details we found that the small intestine trains our immune system to recognize the good and the bad bacteria. And, that Brevibacterium linens, which digest dead skin cells such as between the toes resulting in stinky feet, also produce some of the strong-smelling cheese some of us enjoy. That can give one a bit of a pause…
Being a holiday weekend (April 27 is King’s Day, celebrating his birthday) we found some lines intensely long (such as the Rijks Museum) and the city crowded (typical, though, especially in tulip season). Remembering a great Asian restaurant we decided to get take-out for dinner
where we peered through the window into a tiny kitchen where three to four people managed to choreograph delicious dishes. And, incredibly (too) filling.
Continuing onto HAARLEM…
Monday-Monday, April 29-May 6, 2019
Knowing we could easily access Amsterdam and its sites from one of our favorite Dutch cities, we decided to head off to Haarlem, just a few bridges and one lock a further 12 miles down the canals.
Three years ago this city seduced us in the loveliness of the Netherlands, from the abundance of flowers to its famous Golden-Age Dutch master Frans Hals to its 16th-century charm, prompting us to apply for temporary residency and making Holland our winter home from 2016-19. It felt appropriate to return, making our stay here a full-circle.
We tied to the town wall on the other side of the windmill where we were on our first visit. And, the perfect introduction to Holland for our young friend, Sarah Arndt.
One of John and Leslie Arndt’s daughters, Sarah had worked as one of the program leaders shepherding 20 college students through a semester of accessing Ecuador’s, Malawi’s, and Italy’s food policies. With time between the end of her job and meeting her sister Hannah, she joined us adding a zest to JUANONA’s crew.
And, it was wonderful.
Seeing familiar haunts through the eyes of a newcomer inspires renewed appreciation for all we’ve experienced, and Sarah’s interest in different cultures gave us that gift. During her stay we toured Haarlem,
enjoyed local beers,
and requested poses, which she kindly agreed to do.
With a shared interest in Dutch history and art, we visited some of Haarlem’s museums–Frans Hals, Teylors, Corrie Ten Boom’s House–while taking in the city’s ambiance of what some call the small Amsterdam.
Our daily excurions would often begin as a trio, then duo, ending as singles when specific areas would draw us into solo journeys.
One example of our divergent courses began when we couldn’t get into the new David Hockney exhibit at the Van Gogh Museum. This led us to the Rijks Museum’s Gallery of Honor featuring stellar work by the Dutch Masters of the country’s Golden Age (17th century), with Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ covering the entire back wall.
Exiting we heard music drawing us to a group of street musicians. Having mentioned to Sarah we usually hear some beautiful classical tunes, I couldn’t identify these notes (not unusual for me). I decided to record it in order to ask some knowledgeable, musical friends, Melanie and Anthony. Then I heard a familiar tune and laughed…
yep, the score from ‘Game of Thrones’! Soon followed by the theme from ‘Mission Impossible’.
But, back to the Van Gogh Museum, one Sarah really wanted to see. So, while Sarah decided to take her chances of garnering a ticket from any possible no-shows, Max and I headed to the Neue Kerk (New Church) to see the World Press 2019 photographs. Finding that closed, we turned to the Palace just to the left of the church.
Never having been tempted to tour this site, the short entry line enticed us in, and we’re glad we did. The palace is a stunning example of the imperial style created during Louis Bonaparte’s brief reign as King of Holland (1806-10) during his brother Napoleon’s occupation of the area (1806-13) .
Initially constructed in 1648-55, this building served as the Amsterdam’s Town Hall and came to represent Holland’s independence from Spain and the end of the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648).
Designed by architect Jacob van Campen and featuring over 100 sculptures by Antwerp sculptor Artus Quellinus, considered in the same league as Italy’s Bernini, the building was pronounced the eighth wonder of the world by the residents of Amsterdam.
Beginning with the impressive Citizen’s Hall,
we wandered through 21 rooms–many containing the original furniture from Louis’ time.
Now, it’s a tourist attraction as well as the official reception Palace of the Royal House of the Netherlands (one of government’s three palaces). It also is where foreign dignities may stay during their welcome here.
With the Tribunal room located on the ground floor we discovered an MDT (Max Disaster Tour) site. In this surprisingly small but elaborately sculpted room judges reviewed and announced death sentences four times a year. Here the accused would be tried, sentenced, and the type of execution chosen – hanging, strangulation, beheading, or drawn (big ugh).
This led upstairs to the Justice Chamber where all knelt in prayer upon which the accused stepped through the window to the balcony (installed during Louis’ times) where he/she was executed.
Max and I also saw the special exhibit at the Hermitage, a small sister museum to the one in St. Petersburg. Catherine the Great (1729-96) began collecting art and in 1764 displayed it in the ‘Small Hermitage’. Her grandson Tsar Nicholas I expanded it by building a larger museum 88 years later. This was renamed the State Hermitage Museum after the 1918 Russian Revolution. In 2009 Amsterdam opened its Hermitage, a sister museum we’ve frequented often when in Amsterdam.
Unfortunately we had only an hour before closing but the art was tremendous, and some was intriguingly juxtaposed with two similar items yet from two distinctly different time periods. One example being the statue of Egypt’s King Amenemhat III with the affable bust of Catherine the Great; both were created during their lifetime and both reflected the monarch’s desires to be approachable. Catherine’s even smiling!
The exhibit included a wide range of items, from a rather disturbing portrait, ‘Donna Nuda’, by Leonardo da VInci…
to a wasp-waisted dress worn by Tsar Nicolas II’s mother, Empress Maria Fyodorovna (1847-1928)…
to a musical desk created for Catherine the Great.
With a video demonstrating this lyrical desk’s sliding doors and hidden drawers we ended our too-brief tour and began our trek back to JUANONA.
Memorial & Liberation Days (Saturday & Sunday, May 4 & 5, 2019)
On the weekend we observed the two-minute silence at 8pm. Initiated at the end of WWII this joint event has grown into recognizing the sacrifices of all who have died to protect the freedom of others.
We thought this time would be extremely powerful if surrounded by a stilled, hustle-and-bustle crowd; but, unable to locate one we wandered into St. Bavo, Haarlem’s imposing church anchoring its main square. There we stood with a small group as they tolled a bell up to the time,
then listened to the quiet sound of thankfulness to be where we were because of the sacrifices by others.
The next day the mood flipped 180º from the somberness of memories to a fiesta associated with Liberation Day. Since 2016 this time has been a keynote in our Dutch experience and truly the one that cinched our decision to use this delightful country as a home base. Yet, unlike in Amsterdam’s Dam Square 2016, this time the celebrations mainly offered loud music, food and drink carts, and a horde.
As you can see from an overflowing receptacle,
the public urinals came in handy with Max demonstrating his single-hander.
And, a mixed signal with a young entrepreneur dressed as a hot dog selling hamburgers…
Sarah, too, found it underwhelming in culture and overwhelming in crowds as she tried it out after a day in Amsterdam.
Back aboard we enjoyed another evening of shared meals, some augmented with treats from Sarah, and conversation
then retreated into our private thoughts and projects as the late evening sun turned to night.
With a decent weather forecast we decided to give Sarah a taste of canal cruising then sailing in the open sea. Tomorrow: On the move again with favorable winds, and even better, more friends to see!