Sunday, 15 September 2013

To Dutchland!

Two lovely things already this weekend, and later today we're going to this!

On Friday, we went to the Dutchman's friend's wedding in Rotterdam. It was an evening event, with a Baptist-esque ceremony - all in Dutch, so I had very little idea what was going on for an hour - complete with a band with bongo drums and electric guitar. The reception was fun, lots of drinking and pretending to understand conversations, a capriana bar, and a salsa workshop! There was no sit-down dinner, but I did eat a deep-fried meatball croquette thing, which was an experience I won't be forgetting in a while. The cupcakes were chocolate sponge with vanilla cheesecake and vanilla sponge with strawberries baked into the middle. Obviously I tried both, to be able to give a full report.

That night we headed on to Amsterdam, to stay with the Dutchman's brother and his girlfriend. (They live at the top of a house right on a canal - a beautiful flat with gorgeous views, but man were the stairs steep!) The reason for going to Amsterdam was to visit the Rijksmuseum.

Oh, oh, oh, I was not disappointed. It is a beautiful, imposing building, which they have completely re-done inside. It's all white walls and clean lines - which reminded me, although I know I'm being massively parochial, of the way they re-did the Ashmolean. There's a cycle tunnel through the middle of the building, which breaks the ground floor in half, but also gives, along with the skylights, a lot of light to the internal space.

What I liked most about the Rijksmuseum was the Masters' Gallery, where the Dutch Golden Age is celebrated. The walls above the paintings are covered with murals naming famous painters, and it was quite marvellous to see famous paintings in the flesh. However, what I also liked was the fact that it is obvious, at a glance, where the most famous paintings are, from the crowds huddled round - see above photos of this for The Nightwatch and the Vermeer hangings. We had so much fun. Not only did the Dutchman get involved, at my behest, with a militiaman painting, I also got a lot of strange looks for posing, pretending to weep, in front of the stern carving of the Royal Charles, captured and pulled triumphantly back to the Netherlands by the evil Dutch as their prize for winning the Battle of the Medway. Unfortunately this photo has now been lost because I stupidly thought that if the camera said it had finished uploading it would have actually finished uploading and therefore did not check before deleting the photos off the camera. Cockfetch. Memories of tasty oude kaas (literally 'old cheese') sandwiches and Dutch Apple Pie are comforting me.

I love Rotterdam, because it is where the Dutchman studied and where many of his university friends still live. When we go there it is always for a social occasion, and I've always had an excellent time. I like Amsterdam (despite the fact that it has been tipping it down on both the times I've been there), with its pretty canals, but I definitely feel like a tourist, and have still got so much to see. We must go back to the Rijksmuseum, as we didn't get a chance to see the more modern exhibits, and I want to go to the Anne Frank house. I love Dutchland, it's laid back and friendly and full of interesting things. Including my boyfriend. (Boom.) If you're interested in Dutch art, or the infamous ten year renovation of the Rijksmuseum, I highly recommend Andrew Graham-Dixon's BBC documentaries, The High Art of the Low Countries (in three episodes) and A Night at the Rijksmuseum.

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