Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Back from the Dam!

Yes, I have returned from Amsterdam, drug free (well, almost - paracetamol doesn't count, right?).  Despite a stinky cold shortly after arriving (hence the drugs) we tore through the city in a fine fashion.  The Van Gogh Gallery is simply one the best art galleries I have ever visited.  The Rjiksmuseum is rather good - although the progress of their refurbishment (started a decade ago and due to finish in 2030) makes the construction of the Embra Trams look like a model of efficiency!  The Hermitage (the Dutch outstation of the St Petersburg place) was OK.  To be fair, we did some museums as well: Rembrandt's House and the Anne Frank House were well worth the visit.  Rembo's place was interesting particularly for the very late Caravaggio on display upstairs - it's been in a private collection for the last 400 years and this was it's 1st public exhibition since then.  Unsurprisingly, it featured John the Baptist.  And Anne Frank's exhibition induced in me a deep, cold, icy anger: we must NEVER let dehumanising evil gain the upper hand again in the World.  Islamic or Christian or political fundamentalism which licences and affirms murderous oppression of any minority (Jewish, Christian, women, gypsies, gays, black, pink with green spots whatever has got to be fought.  I seem to recall my baptismal promises which I personally made as a 16 year old according to the Old Rite included the phrase "to beat down Satan under our feet".  Not a reference to a mythical creature with horns and a pitchfork, but to the reality of evil unchallenged in the hearts and minds of men, women and nations.  The house backs onto the Westerkerk and the Homomonument which is additionally poignant.

Other delights included a jazz concert at the Concertgebouw.  The Cloggies are most civilised and include a half time drink in the ticket price - wine, Orange Juice or sparkling water were the choices.  I can also strongly commend Ollieballen, dutch pea soup ("snert" they call it) and an interesting starter called bitterballen - think of a mini-chicken Kiev filled with stovies and you're there!  It was a great wee break and a lovely city.

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