Looking back I realized it has been a long, long while since I’ve shared anything other than my thoughts with both my faithful readers. Back in the day I’d link up to posts on other blogs and scatter random pictures around. Well Christmastide is a time of sharing and there has been much in Blog Land that’s caught my often unfocused interest.
As to the random photos they are of a visit we made to the Rembrandt House Museum during our stay in Amsterdam in September.
My blog buddy Mitchell’s spouse was complaining about the cold in Málaga when they did a tour of the Christmas lights this past week. Apparently it was a frigid 15c (59f) and poor San Geraldo was freezing. As the temperature here was -15c I had little sympathy for them and even less when I saw Mitchell’s photos of the magnificent light displays.
This brought back memories of our New Year’s in Madrid back in 2010. They certainly know spectacular illumination in Spain.
A few times in the past month or so the Mainland has been cut off from the Island when the winds have been high and the Confederation Bridge has been closed. It can cause problems but nothing like what early Islanders encountered back in the days before the “fixed link” when winters pretty much froze the Northumberland Straits. Over at SailStait historian Harry Holman posted a report from 1876 when a crossing of the nine mile gap took from Sunday to Wednesday with the odd dunking in the process.
This happens to coincide with the announcement of an increase on the toll to cross to the Mainland. It’s going up by .75¢ for a two-axled vehicle, .25¢ for motorcycles and bicycles, and should you wish to walk across the 12.9 km (8 mile) span there is no increase. It remains a mere $4.50.
In a break with a forty-year tradition I did not polish my balls this year. I let Laurent do it! (Oh grow up! Honestly are you still in grade school?) Laurent wrote all about the preparations for Christmastide at the Beaulieu-Hobbs manse.
December 13th is Christmas Jumper Day – for those not familiar with the word “jumper” means “sweater” in the United Kingdom. It actually derives from the French jupe – which the French may want back come the new year.
For our brief overnight in Amsterdam after the cruise we choose the Quinton Zoo Hotel which as its name implies is close to the Artis Zoo. In other times the area had been the Jewish Quarters. A migration of Portuguese Sephardic Jews after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula had contributed to the growth of Amsterdam as a trading centre. It was to remain the centre of Jewish life and culture until the Nazi Occupation during the Second World War.
As we looked out our window I remarked to Laurent that the building across the street looked very much like a theatre, as indeed it was. But a theatre with a sad history. Built in 1891 the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre) was one of the more popular theatres in Amsterdam however with the Occupation because of it’s location the name was changed to Joodsche Schouwburg (Jewish Theatre). It did not serve that function for long and in 1942 it became a prison and deportation centre as Jews were rounded up and sent first to Westerbork or the Vught transit camps, and from there to the camps at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen or Sobibor. It is estimated that between 60,000 and 80,000 men, women and children were sent from here to almost certain death.
After the war it sat derelict and in 1962 all but the facade of the theatre was demolished. The space became a memorial garden, chapel and a Wall of Remembrance to the victims of the Nazi Occupation. The Wall does not list individual names but simply the 6,700 surnames of families that were deported and murdered.
October 12 is Old Farmers Day – now, now Steve don’t take it personally.
Hold on to your Sleipnir Dr Spo the Viking stuff will come shortly in the meantime there’s more to the Rijksmuseum than saintly wooden statues. Here’s a few more things that caught my fancy.
Having seen perhaps the most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum on our first visit – in juxtaposition with Franz Hal’s of the same name – it was interesting to see it at a greater distance and surround by the modern paraphernalia of restoration. Very helpful guides are in place to explain both the need for and the process of restoration. I had not realized the painting had been attacked several times and required extensive restoration in 1975.
Pierre Cuypers, the Rijksmuseum architect, designed this piano as a wedding gift for his second wife Antoinette. The gift reflected their deep Catholicism. The images on the piano case show two scenes from the story of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. It alludes the sacrifice Antoinette made in giving up her musical carrer for marriage. Rather oddly it took an extensive search to find out her name – the label certainly did not mention it and neither did most online biographies of Cuypers.
Two Mothers: When I first saw the title of this terra cotta by Frans Stracké I was a little puzzled and then I got it. As Laurent mentioned the labelling on the various pieces are great examples of what museum captions should be. I was fixated on the human and canine figures until my attention was drawn to the fisherwoman’s bad luck at fishing – she has only two fish in her pouch and her net is empty.
Painter Thérèse Schwartze was known for her portraits of Dutch royalty and the prosperous bourgeoise of Amsterdam society. With a touch of irony we know the name of the dog in this painting but not the French model who posed with him. It appears Schwartze started this painting in 1879 while a student in Paris and finished it five years later????
This rather foreboding figurehead graced the frigate Prins von Orange. Built in Rotterdam in 1828 the warship was armed with sixty canons.
And we end Willy’s tour with Intrigue – James Ensor’s rather grotesque if carnivalesque painting. His signature masked figures were an open challenge to bourgeois society of the time. Needless to say they did not meet with public approval.
I only wish I had more time to spend as I only saw two floors of two wings of this remarkable collection. Ah well the next time.
September 7th has a plethora of celebrations but I think I’ll forego World Beard Day and National Salami Day (oh grow up!) in favour of a favourite sport of Canadian drivers: Tailgating Day.
And Lurker was right – the numbering is confused – blame it on jet lag.
So here we are in Amsterdam. It has not been the least stressful of trips thus far. Our flight was delayed out of Toronto – and just as well as I wouldn’t want to have taken off in the thunder storm that closed the airport. The driver we had arranged to pick us up was a no-show and I am in current communication with the company who are refusing to issue a refund. There were a few problems with our hotel room – first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Booking.com but that is a story for another day. However we are here and we are alive.
Rather than go on with tales of woe I’ll simply share a few photos and the odd comment.
After a nap – a light snack to tide me over until late dinner.
The area is in the Museum area – art galleries, antique stores, cafes, and the odd – gasp – pot stop. No this is an art gallery!
Now this is the sort of lawyer you want to do business with!
There were three more of these however the titles were…. not the sort of thing you put on a family blog.
A very tiring day ended up in a pleasant wine bar called Shiraz. An arrangement of charcuterie – meats, cheese, croquettes, figs – and a tasting flight of some very nice wines put us in the mood for bedfordshire.
September 5th is Cheese Pizza Day – I’ll save the celebration until I get on the boat where they have a pizza parlour.
As I mentioned yesterday we are becoming – collective gasps!!! – tourists and cruise ship passengers next week. Our one big trip of the year – apparently the Costco run to Moncton doesn’t count – takes us to an not unfamiliar destination to start: Amsterdam. However after that point it is a case of “hic sunt draconus” in that Norway and the Norwegian Sea are not areas of the world we have ever explored or previously considered exploring. But explore we shall.
After a few days in Amsterdam, with a side trip to Utrecht and hopefully a meet up with our friend MJ, we board the newest of Holland America’s cruise liners – the Nieuw Statdendam and set off into the North Sea.
On past cruises we have always had a balcony but decided that as it seemed to only serve as a venue for photo ops we opt this time for a window. However as compensation we are aft on the top accommodation deck with a view of the oncoming horizon.
It’s a seven day voyage – which we feel is just the right amount of time – with two days at sea, two days cruising two of the major fjords, and three town stops including Bergen. The last will give us a chance to visit the home of Edvard Grieg. Our good blog buddy Mitchell is currently in Norway but above the Arctic Circle some 1,285 kms (800 miles) north of where we will be.
Our return to Amsterdam will give me – and the long suffering Laurent – a chance to catch a performance at the Dutch National Opera. It’s the oft-performed pairing of Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana – for some reason director Robert Carsen and conductor Mark Elder decided to reverse the normal order. Sadly Elder has had to bow up because of health problems but the presence of mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili has me breathless with anticipation.
The next day it’s off to London via Brussels on the Eurostar. Amsterdam has been recently added to the high speed network and the trip takes 4 hours and 50 minutes with an hour to change in Brussels. Approximately 25 minutes of that journey is spent in the Chunnel under the English Channel. We did it a few years ago and frankly it’s a bit underwhelming as well as underwater.
Two evenings in London, and here’s hoping a chance to say hello to our friends David and his diplomate. Then the good lord and Air Canada flight loads permitting we are back in Charlottetown. Just in time to welcome a few thousand cruise ship visitors.
August 30th is Frankenstein Day – make of that what you will? It is also Toasted Marshmallow Day – make of that a big batch of ‘smores!
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown