It rained all day, from trickle to downpour. Had I just arrived, I would have suited up in my raincoat, most easily dried shoes, and umbrella and hit the street, or called Uber and ducked the drizzle entirely in one of the museums, or the royal palace. But it was a Sunday, a day I avoid museums because everyone else is there, and the royal palace was closed. The famous fields of tulips would not be a pleasure in the rain. At mid-morning I went out to the Screaming Bean for a coffee. The streets were deserted. I suppose most of Holland had a hangover. I ended up sitting at a table on a cushy banquet in a mostly deserted eatery, and reading for pleasure. When I noticed lunchtime had arrived, I went for one of their top end (19E) item, Five Tastes, out of curiosity.
It was artful and delicious, and looked fit for the Stedelijk. A plus for me, it was more like 25 bites (yes, I counted). On the minus side, the lobster bisque was indelibly salty. Nevertheless, I was pleased to eat something rather less hearty than bread and cheese. When I left, I picked up some milk and fruit at the market and went back to the B&B, after I admired the orange juice machine. I want one in my local Publix!
I decided to take the rest of the day off – read and nap. We all need a day of rest, even the traveler. Maybe especially the traveler. This trip has required sustained physical and spiritual exertion. I’ve been well rewarded for my effort, but it has costs too. I’ve really missed the sustaining companionship and consolation of my significant other. One of the excellent things about being bonded with someone is the daily opportunity to appreciate what he brings to the table. You can’t miss ‘em if you don’t go away, but I sure have missed him.
Monday, April 28, Day 9
A woman on a shopping mission, I walked 30 minutes to the Monday morning Westermarkt in the Jordaan, following my progress on Google maps on my iPhone. I ended up doing this most of the time – getting my bearings on a paper map first, then plugging my destination in on my iPhone and glancing down to make sure I turned left or right. It has served me well.
I had fond memories of looking for a souvenir amid the trinkets and treasures on my last trip. A photo I took in this market became this painting, Vermeer Recycled.
This market is designated for cloth primarily, and sure enough, there were bolts of fabric and zippers for sale, along with shoddy but cheerful teeshirts extolling dope and sex, and cheap scarfs (2 for 4E). The other area of the market, near the church, is higher end, with vintage bits and pieces, handmade ornamentation (calling it jewelry is going too far and not far enough) boho clothing, boots and sneakers, books and leather bound journals, fruit and veg stalls, and (hey, I’m in Holland) cheese.
I started at the very beginning and was funneled along between the tents of merch. I really do hate crowds. Shuffling along, crammed cheek to jowl, personal space erased, I felt like one in a flock of sheep headed to slaughter. It made me nervous for my wallet and my iPhone, and I kept a tight grip on both. If I had been younger, I would have been nervous for my virtue. However, I entered the shopping fray with a will, flipping over dozens of plastic wrap packages to choose two tee shirts (2 for 5E ) from a bin* and four pairs of leggings (2 for 5E) printed with images of models from the seventies ( my era!) newspaper print, tigers and tattoos.**
*When I opened them later, they turned out to be worth rather less than what I paid for them but good for what they were. Tissue thin material and the XL fits like a Small, but they are for the girls who like thin and tight, so win win!
**Major score. Emily could hardly choose between them, she loved all of them so much.
Very shortly the merch in booths repeated with blocks and blocks to go. I broke out at the next opening and rushed towards the church end along the open street. Remind me never to get on the subway at rush hour in Tokyo. Many women in hajibs and abayas moving at a deliberate pace, were polite and noticeably courteous, while the Dutch women, generally jolly and optimistic, were ruthless shoppers. No ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon’ would induce them to step aside, and if they were zeroing in on something they wanted to purchase, they threw elbows like the NBA. A nation built on trade and tolerance, they take their haggling seriously.
From there, followed the Google maps directions to the nearest tram and journeyed to the Rijks. The Yellow Post-its I’ve loved to read were everywhere. A new guide to the museum’s collection was available, titled Art is Therapy, organized by Alain de Botton & John Armstrong. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/art-is-therapy
It’s genius. It’s taken the museum’s artworks and offered them in a new light, one that reminds us, using specific works paired with interpretive texts, how art can offer solace, insight, and encouragement. I snapped up the guide and begin the best treasure hunt ever, with big yellow post-its marking the spots.
Here’s an example – first the painting, of the interior of a church.
And here’s the Post-it text, cropped for just the English version.
Here’s a snippet of the philosopher’s manifesto: “… the focus should be less on where an art object comes from and who made it, and more on what it can do for the museum visitor in terms of issues that concern us all: love and relationships, work, status, memory and mortality.”
Isn’t that delicious? Even if you aren’t in Amsterdam or planning a trip there, you can download the free Rijks app that includes a guide to this exhibit, and listen as the text is read and an image of the art is shown.
Do it now.