Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Amsterdam Thoughts

The first thing I noticed about Amsterdam was the filth. I don’t mean the legal drugs or the prostitution. I mean the trash. The similarities between German and Dutch had me thinking that the cultures would be similar as well. And, they may be. I don’t think I got a good measure of what the culture was really like. But the trash was everywhere you looked. That was decidedly not Germanic.

Once you get past the trash, and the outrageous prices for public transportation, the city was really pretty. The areas of town with the canals are impressive. And the way the buildings all tilt different ways as though there isn’t a single level in the whole country is quaint.

The real highlight of Amsterdam for us was the Van Gogh Museum. The only other opportunities I have had to see a single artist so thoroughly presented were at special exhibits. Here you had four floors of the work and the life of one man. Whether you like his aesthetic or not, it is fascinating to see his philosophy of art and his technique change and grow over the few years he worked.

Outside of Amsterdam we saw more sites, some more memorable in all likelihood. One afternoon we popped over to Volendam. It is a little fishing village that has become more of a cliché, tourist trap. For all its artificiality, it was really fun. We intentionally parked in a neighborhood known as the Doolhof, which apparently is Dutch for labyrinth. You could certainly get lost in the narrow pedestrian “streets” and drawbridges there.

Finally, we had to go to Haarlem to see the Corrie Ten Boom house. Having grown up as an evangelical in the seventies that is the first thing I think of when I think Holland. It was a little bizarre showing up for our tour and realizing we were surrounded by people from all over the world who were all a part of some sub-set of a smaller sub-set of our sub-culture of evangelicalism. But the story and the history of what went on there is amazing to hear again. It is too bad that this little story is so overlooked by the world at large. And in comparison to the more touted Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, it feels a lot more authentic and not as commercialized.

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