We packed so much into our lovely day yesterday that today just turned into a slow Sunday with no particular plans. The great thing about being in a city you know well is you don’t feel obliged to visit all the main sights. Anne Frank house is just round the corner from our hotel but we went there years ago. It’s a ‘must’ and I’m glad I’ve been for it’s a very moving experience. But I don’t feel the need to go again. Which considering the large queues all day and every day is probably as well. We did think though that this trip we should visit the Rijksmuseum. I’m not really a big gallery fan. I prefer to go for shortish visits to see a particular exhibition, which is why I have annual passes to many of the main London galleries, allowing me to pop in for an hour or so or to see a special show. When away on holiday though, there isn’t that luxury. The Rijksmuseum however was reopened in Spring 2013 after a 10 year major renovation. Really, we couldn’t miss it. So after breakfast we slowly made our way through quiet canal side streets – quiet because it’s Sunday and it was quite early – and paid our €15 entry fee to go inside.
I was pleased to see some Vermeers again. We went to a major Vermeer exhibition in The Hague almost 20 years ago and my view of this artist changed. Seeing his paintings for real was a revelation and I fell in love with the tranquility and incredible light of his work. My son bought me a print of The Milkmaid at that time and, now framed, it’s in my study at home where I see it every day.
I was a bit taken aback that the crowds were taking photos of everything with big SLRs and smartphones. So I took this one. We didn’t last long in the museum though. It was all too overwhelming and too much hard work for a Sunday on holiday. Coming out, Nicola remembered a good and interesting cafe in the nearby De Pijp area called Bazar, so we headed there. It was once a church and now converted into a cafe, it sells Turkish-Middle Eastern food. It’s a great space and fun for lunchtime.
Nicola suggested we take a slight detour to see Begijnhof, a courtyard of tiny houses and gardens that was built originally in the 14th century to house a lay Catholic sisterhood. The original buildings were destroyed in a fire but one wooden house, No. 34, dating from 1528, remains.
The houses are lived in – though not by lay sisters now, I think – and it’s a peaceful place and good to see. It’s free entry and open until 5pm. From there it was a short walk back to our hotel to rest our well walked feet for a while. Nicola tucked into her book and after a while I headed out in search of coffee. And more apple pie. Wow! It was good.