July 8, 2015
Then came the attempt to exit the city of Utrecht.
We only did four laps around the apartment, actually coming right back to where we left twice, before we figured it out ourselves. Jeeps had given up and lapsed into a sullen silence after asking us to ‘turn around when possible’ dozens of times as the bridge closure and construction foiled her again and again.
Eventually we figured it out ourselves and got on the road back to the IBIS Hotel near Schiphol Airport Amsterdam.
As we drove, the sky opened up and buckets of rain sluiced over the car. It didn’t matter to us, we were on a mission.
We checked into the hotel, chucked our luggage on the floor and left for Den Haag (The Hague) in our unshaven and unwashed glory.
As we drove, we braced ourselves for the inevitable parking fiasco. However, we had done our homework well this time, having plugged in the coordinates for one of the larger parking garages near the city centre and Jeeps, having eventually recovered from her failures in Utrecht—which were not her fault—delivered us smoothly to a car garage, with plenty of room for parking.
Our enthusiasm was only momentarily dampened—literally—by the prospect of walking a few blocks in the sheeting rain, but we donned jackets and made the trek, vowing to buy a brolly very soon.
First we went to the Mauritshuis …
Which is at the end of a series of courtyards or a square (plein) which includes the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights), the main building of the 13th century Binnenhof used for the state opening of Parliament, official royal receptions, and inter-parliamentary conferences.
And also leads to the Prince William V Gallery…
The courtyard is built in the middle of a canal seen just over the walls.
It appeared there was to be a concert of some kind held there later. I could not find what concert or event it was.
Then, you enter rooms with wall upon wall of paintings, and all thoughts of the outside world vanish. The photographs I took can never, ever do justice to seeing the real item. To truly appreciate them, you must go and stand before them. Having now been, I would encourage everyone who has any interest in beauty and art to go at least once in their lifetime. It will enrich your soul.
This was our first up-close encounter with the masters. Speaking for myself I was blown away. I am not one who likes a lot of impressionistic work, although it is beginning to grow on me at a late age; however, I have always loved the masterpieces of works in light and realism from artists like Reubens:
An artist I had not heard of (showing my blatant ignorance) is Jan Steen, whom I have now come to enjoy greatly, as I saw many of his paintings in Holland. He always has a humourous bent to his paintings, which sometimes are also allegories or morality pieces.
Here is the famous, now made more famous due to the bestselling book of the same name:
The stunning Vermeer: Girl with Pearl Earring, which I was surprised to discover (me being an art illiterate) is a tronie; a painting of an imaginary figure and not an actual portrait.
Plus this Vermeer: View of Delft
Note the detail of the people …
Oh, to see all the Rembrandts. I love his work. Another tronie: Man with a Feathered Beret
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholas Tulp; 1632
Portrait of Rembrandt with a Gorget; circa 1629
Self-portrait 1669, the year Rembrandt died, so this may be the last self-portrait he did. Rembrandt made more self-portraits than any other 17th century painter.
A rare painting by any master of the day: two men who at the time were called ‘ Moors’.
For me, The Old Lacemaker is another stunning work of colour, light and expression.
The Bull or The Young Bull, a painting by Paulus Potter, is perhaps the most famous painting here:
To give you an idea of its size …
And the detail …
So much more artwork, sculptures, furniture ….
We left the Mauritshuis after a couple of hours, taking some more photos of the outside and canal area.
We wandered through the Ridderzall and Binnenhof, heading towards the Prince William V gallery.
I noticed an open door to my right. I sauntered in, all touristy-like, expecting to find a nifty little art gallery or exhibition.
Instead, inside was a glassed-in security area and a very startled guy sitting behind it, who after recovering his composure, said grimly through a little round hole: “Yes! We can help you?”
He did not look helpful.
“Oh hi,” cue the patented sheepish Canadian smile.
“Just wondering what this is … ?”
He drew himself up, squaring his shoulders. I half-expected a salute.
“This … this is the Prime Minister of Holland’s office …”
I almost said, “Oh, can we have a cup of coffee with him?”
But of course I didn’t. I thanked the man very politely and backed out, very gingerly, keeping my hands clearly visible.
Well, it did explain the security…
On we went without being arrested.
Outside the Prince William Gallery …
… there were some food kiosks.
At one, was a Heron, patiently waiting for something to eat. He appeared to be a familiar figure to the locals.
We entered the gallery …
… to see some more amazing paintings.
Here is one, painted in the 1700’s, stationed near a window, out of which you can see an almost matching view.
This huge painting greets you as you enter the main hall. It is a beautiful study in perspective and shadow.
Oh, Art everywhere …
One can get overwhelmed.
After a couple of hours of art saturation we made our way out.
Den Haag ,seen in the clearing daylight outside, is another lovely Dutch city set within the framework of a modern metropolis.
Statues and sculptures everywhere …
… even on newer buildings, almost as a casual afterthought.
Now … at some point during this fray into the world of art appreciation, MLW received an email from Friedrich, advising he was not going to refund any money because he had told us of the expensive parking issue.
“True enough,” said MLW. “He did warn us about that, but I guess I am going to have to let AirBnB know all the rest of what is wrong with the place.”
She felt bad about it, because she had planned to take the other matters up in a personal email to Friedrich, so that AirBnB wouldn’t give him a black mark and our eventual review might be slanted more favourably.
But now the gloves were off.
As Daffy Duck would say “ Of courth you realithe … thith meanth war!”
We returned to our vehicle in the now-dry weather and drove back to the IBIS, with MLW madly thumbing a reply to AirBnB on her phone.
At the hotel, we had an excellent supper and (big Bonus here) an actual martini and fell into bed exhausted. No dreams of spiders or serial killers invaded our sleep.