The Van Gogh Museum certainly eclipsed anything I felt at the Rijksmuseum. I certainly do not pretend to be an art critic or a proper art connoisseur, but I love history and that includes coming face to face with the artists I would have studied along the way. I am always envious of the way Europe has memorialised its past through its museums and ongoing restoration and maintenance of its monuments. This is something sorely lacking in Trinidad and Tobago. I pass the Red House twice a day and always with a bit of annoyance and sadness, as this historical emblem lays prostrate in the middle of a city that has seemingly forgotten about it, in favour of its new, more modern little sister on the Waterfront. This simply cannot be the way we treat our history.
What is even worse in our case as Trinbagonians, do we care to teach this new generation about where we come from? Really? In an SEA/CXC/CAPE driven education system, are we truly taking the time to teach our children where they came from and who they really are? The museums over here are filled with children, who can tell you more about the history of the works of art than you dare to believe. There were school trips and parents bringing their sons and daughters to school them on Van Gogh and his legacy. Quite admirable.
But this was an entry about my trip and not meant to be social commentary. For that, let's have drinks and discuss. Getting to Van Gogh was not without incident as this was a super fantastic rainy day and unlike my good fortune at the Rijksmuseum, this time I met a queue as long as the road itself. I looked at the sky in a bit of a panic as I tried to wager with God to just let me get inside before he opened the skies and poured all over Amsterdam. It was not to be. Drop drop drop came the rain and hello...black hair in the rain, not to mention getting a cold I did not want - I was out of there.
This was how I ended up buying the most expensive umbrella in the universe as the rain just refused to quit and my escape from the rain was soon stuffed with tourists in a similar predicament. With water now gushing through the roof of the tent of the roadside criminal, I mean, roadside vendor, I was left with little choice but to buy what I now refer to as my Collector's Van Gogh umbrella which cost more than the ticket to actually get into the museum to see the real works of Van Gogh. Priceless.
Spent an evening in the Vondelpark as well, beautiful green park in Amsterdam, where we came across a wedding and a free concert featuring a Ukrainian folk band. By this time, the weather had improved and it was crisp and warm, the beautiful flowers beckoned one to stay and one could sit with a danish hijacked from one's breakfast at the hotel and people watch as friends and families went by on foot or by bike.
Amsterdam is of course a city known for the plethora of bicycles. It took me almost the entire trip to get used to bicycle lanes, and I invoked the ire of many a pedal pusher as I was often caught unawares in the bicycle lane. As good as I am at blending in, this bicycle lane thing got me.
I still did catch that cold after the Van Gogh downpour, though but at least it was after my side trip to Belgium. No...this is not in chronological order at the moment.