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Amsterdam and The Hague

I left for Amsterdam on January 11 for work. I didn’t know exactly when I’d return.

One of my friends, Hans de Jong Luneau, from a project last summer took me to Media Markt to look for an inexpensive pocket digital camera since I forgot my larger but nice Sony. Media Markt reminded me of Best Buy – I suppose we’re exporting more of the bad things about the US. Anyway, I got an Olympus for 89 Euros – its a 3.2 megapixel camera and reasonably small and quick and easy to use.

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A view of a canal in Amsterdam
A night view of a canal
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A cool bridge railing holder
Some graphiti on a door in Amsterdam
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The ABN AMRO branch at Dam Square

My bank card stopped working internationally – called Aviva to ask her to help and clarify that she could get a cheap flight for next weekend, which didn’t work out, but Aviva did call the bank and get my card working again; fraud prevention is very interesting. Took a picture at lunch of a kitten eating off a customer’s plate in the restaurant.

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A restaurant kitten eating leftovers from a customer’s plate

On Saturday January 15, I took the train from Amsterdam to The Hague, with a quick change in Lieden, where I met up with Jan de Brieder, another friend from last summer (we had quite a project last summer, 7 trips to Amsterdam and spending a month and a half there). The woman across from me on the train had a blue iPod mini, and the couple across the aisle has a very well behaved dog in a knapsack looking out the window.We walked to the Mauritshuis and looked at the art – it is a wonderful museum and a must-see in my opinion. Vermeer’s “View of Delft” was amazing – its full of texture and nuance.

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A square in The Hague
The old government buildings
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The Mauritshuis
The rear of the Mauritshuis
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Another view of the rear of the Mauritshuis
from a postal card
“View of Delft” by Vermeer, at the Mauritshuis
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“The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Vermeer,
at the Mauritshuis
“The Young Bull” by Potter, at the Mauritshuis
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A fountain in The Hague
One of the government buildings in The Hague

We then walked around The Hague to try to see the famous panorama painting of the coast, but we were too late, so we stopped at a bar and had a beer and then had dinner at FAB, a very very nice restaurant.

I took the train back to Amsterdam, again with a change in Leiden (this one required going downstairs, but still easy).

I also got to take Saturday January 22 off, so I went to some of the museums I either haven’t visited or hadn’t in years. I walked across the main city to visit the Jewish Historical Museum (Joods Historisch Museum); its was a little hard to find, but once I found the Portugese Synagogue it wasn’t too hard. There were two temporary exhibits, one of photographs tracing Jews around the world, the second evaluating what it means to be Jewish. The last two exhibits are housed in an area that’s a reconstruction of the Grand Synagoge – I was actually worried for a second because it was Shabbat and I wondered if I needed a keepah (yahmulka).

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Facade of the Jewish Historic Museum

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The ticket for the Jewish Historical Museum

The I walked over to the Hermitage Amsterdam, the new offshoot from the famous Russian museum; from the Jewish Historic Museum its only a 5 minute walk around and across the Neuwe Herengracht. I waited over 15 minutes in line to get in to the “Nicholas and Alexandra” exhibit.

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The facade of the Hermitage Amsterdam
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Portrait of Nicholas II
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Ticket for the Hermitage Amsterdam

I had a sandwich at a little shop we used to frequent during a project 7 years ago. Then, I went to see the exhibits at the Rijksmuseum. As you can probably tell, I really like Vermeer – there is precious little of his work around, as he produced few pieces during his life. His painting “The Little Street” is unusual as he usually painted intimate moments in regular life, not street scenes or landscapes.

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These are mosaics on the side of the Rijksmuseum –
you usually can’t see them well due to tree leaves

 

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The main entry arch
One of the decorative water spouts
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Ticket for the Rijksmuseum
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“Still Life with Flowers” by Bollongier, at
the Rijksmuseum
“The Kitchen Maid” by Vermeer,
at the Rijksmuseum
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“The Little Street” by Vermeer, at
the Rijksmuseum
“The Love Letter” by Vermeer, at the Rijksmuseum

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“Woman Reading a Letter” by Vermeer, at the Rijksmuseum

I had a great Thai dinner at Sjaalman right by the Pulitzer at Prinzengracht 178.

The team I’m working with is great! We worked hard and had fun also, as you can see by the balancing act below, along with a picture of “The Bob” keychain given to me by Casper (he was stopped at 2AM as part of a general check on sobriety; he was sober, so they gave him the keychain):

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Ton built a bottle stack after talking about the coke can
art from the Maestro project

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The BOB is the designated driver that stays sober to drive everyone home
(its Bewust Onbeschonken Bestuurder in Dutch)

I got to fly home January 26; two weeks isn’t so bad and having a couple of Saturdays off really helped, cause I got to get Aviva a few gifts and see some of the sights. On this trip I read three books: Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold, The Saudis by Sandra MacKey, and Ajax: The Dutch, The War by Simon Kuper. I would recommend all three – I felt Smart Mobs begins to look at the convergence of communication and social changes, The Saudis reminded me of my stay in country, and Ajax was a frank read about the Dutch and Jews during World War II.

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