Tour: Amsterdam – 9th June 2015

As part of our 3oth Anniversary celebrations we went on a very successful 5 day tour to Holland. It was invaluable to have Amsterdam as the base for exploring Holland’s cultural and artistic heritage and the glorious weather enhanced our visit. As well as a panoply of wonderful art in Amsterdam, The Hague and Haarlem, from the canals we could enjoy the historical gables as well as such modern architecture as the white aero-dynamic zigzag of the EYE.

En route we were able to sample some of Ghent’s medieval architecture but sadly the great altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bravo had suddenly been closed off. Our hotel was ideally situated in a pleasant suburb, not far from the museums and near some enticing restaurants.

Our wide-ranging itinerary included the revamped Rijksmueum, inspirational in its design as well as its acclaimed masterpieces and Rembrandt’s house fascinating in itself and for the demonstrations of how Rembrandt mixed pigments and made his etchings. In Haarlem, we were able to appreciate some of the best portraits of Frans Hals when we visited that museum.

However, for many the highlight was our visit to the Hague and especially the newly refurbished Mauritshuis, where we had the privilege of having the Vermeers and Rembrandts revealed by the expert art historian, Jane Choy-Thurlow who until recently was Area Chairman for NADFAS Mainland Europe. It was an added pleasure when she and her husband joined us for our final night’s celebratory dinner at a very atmospheric restaurant, with original Rembrandt etchings, set in five C17th houses in central Amsterdam.

Another highlight was our time at the Van Gogh Museum with its interesting design and beautifully presented works of the artist and those who had influenced him. In contrast, we were quite bowled over by the uniqueness of the Panorama Mesdag with its 360 degree capture of the village of Scheveningen. Different emotions were stirred by the visit to the Anne Frank Museum with its sobering history.

We enjoyed a very interesting guided tour of Delft’s Old Town on our return journey. Throughout the tour, our driver Kris had proved to be both charming and skilful, manoeuvring in the tightest spots and coping with the omnipresent bicycles. Not only the many treasures we had seen but the hospitality and friendliness of those we met in Holland, endeared the country to us.