Monday, March 8, 2010

Amsterdam and Den Haag

I am a bit behind on blogging. My apologies. Even now as I write, I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of my friend Kelly to Maastricht in 2 hours! But that is another story that will come later! Amsterdam-- clean, friendly, quaint, liberal, orderly. Laid-back. The weather was unfortunately gray and rainy while we were there, but what can you expect these days in the Netherlands?

Let me back up. We headed to Den Haag (or "The Hague" in English) on Thursday night. Friday we had to be at a museum for a mandatory excursion for Dutch Art History.

We saw the famous "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting by the Dutch painter Vermeer. But we didn't even stop at that painting.

No, our teacher likes to focus on paintings like "The Bull" by Paulus Potter. Which, by the way, is HUGE. Like covers the whole wall, larger than life cow staring at you. So strange.

After the Art Museum, we had a lunch break in one of the little squares in The Hague. We took a cool picture of the city behind us-- the historical architecture behind us, but further back, the modernity of the skyscrapers in the distance. Cute, artsy, neat city. It is actually by the coast, but we never saw the coastline (way too cold and gray to venture out there).

We went from The Hague to Amsterdam. We got there in the afternoon and decided to go to the Van Gogh Museum. It was crazy crowded (afternoon on Saturday is NOT the ideal time to visit a world famous museum). But it was wonderful. Van Gogh is one of, if not my favorite artist. His post-impressionist style is so unique. Nobody else will ever paint the way he did. His paintings are so original and beautiful, yet his life was a struggle-- full of anguish and sadness. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the museum, so I took a picture outside.

On Sunday, we had a really cool experience. We got to go to church for the first time since we have been here. In Amsterdam, there was a church about 3 minutes away from our hotel. And it was in ENGLISH! Very important. The church was built in 1604 by Protestants escaping persecution. It was really cool to experience a church service in a church where Christians sat 400 years ago. Also, it was cool to just sing worship songs with other believers in Amsterdam, a place dominated by secularism.

Amsterdam was very clean, quaint, and laid-back. Wish we would have had better weather, but it was a great stay.

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