Dutch my boy!
by Evans Yonson
Barcelona – When Aaron and Ben visited me here sometime early this year, they immediately opened the idea of going to the Netherlands while it’s wintertime. As the semester was about to end that time, I said yes and booked my flight to Amsterdam the next day. As always, I went to Dutch capital without any particular plan but to discover and see what this city has to offer. I knew then that it’s the city where sex, drugs, and rock and roll find its most potent meaning. I’ve heard about the canals. About the coffee shops. About the marijuana-laced brownies. About the prostitutes on window display. But there are more things to learn and appreciate.
Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ most populated city, derived its name from dam in the Amstel river: Amstellerdam. With a population of 1.4M inhabitants, Amsterdam is another European city with canals. These canals were consciously built in the early 17th century with the future in mind then. Today, the canals are used mainly for tourism, most of the time. The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 20% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, with 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level. Significant land area has been gained through land reclamation. With this type of soil, the Dutch has their traditional clogs made of wood (also famous in clay to loamy countries like Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania and Sweden).
One of the most important museums that one should never miss in Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum. It’s probably the only museum in the world that houses more than you could ever imagine number of self-portraits of Vincent Willem Van Gogh. He is the infamous Dutch post-impressionist painter of the Sunflowers, the Irises, The Bedroom, and The Starry Night. If you know Don McLean’s song, Vincent, it is about Vincent Van Gogh’s life and paintings. I have seen The Starry Night in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where it is permanently displayed. Visiting this museum is a feast for those love paintings with vivid colors and strong emotional impact. There are more than 200 paintings on display not counting other artists’ works. Throw in Paul Gauguin, too.
A few corners and bridges away from the hostel is the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is the highlight of one’s visit to this museum. However, another famous Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer, is displayed here. Vermeer is famous for The Milkmaid, The Astronomer, The Girl with a wineglass, and the Girl with the Pearl Earring. Since I was more interested in Rembrandt, not that I found that I found Vermeer’s boring and it’s not, we moved to Rembrandt’s house and workshop on the other side of the city in Jodenbreestraat.
The Rembrandt House Museum used to be Rembrandt’s residence and workshop from 1639 to 1656, when he went bankrupt and had to give up everything. The museum now houses most of Rembrandt’s etchings, which I find very elaborate and meticulously drawn to its minutest detail.
The Dutch really know how to get high naturally. In especially designated streets people can come in and smoke to their hearts’ delight. Drink till they drop. Have the best sex in their lives. But I got my high seeing Rembrandt’s etchings in his house. Staring at the Irises up close. Appreciating Gauguin at the nearest possible point. The gentlemen really know their arts very well. I’ve read somewhere that there are other famous Dutch painters waiting for my gaze. More Dutch boys expecting to be appreciated. Certainly another reason to go back to Amsterdam.