Day 12: Van Gogh Museum and Cycling in the Parks

you're something out of a dream, messing with my head
and I've been looking for you ... are you hiding?
'cause I like the way you're calling to me, your spell upon me
you're something out of a dream and I like it, though I fight it

Celeste - Ezra vine

Before we begin, let me just introduce you to this nice song and a really nice video from Ezra Vine. You know how I like it when I found some really nice unknown songs and put them into my playlist. No? I think I wrote about that in a post before. You didn't read, well ... okay ... so anyway, somehow I found this song in YouTube and it's so catchy and the video is just so really nice. I like it a lot a lot, a whole lot. I like the graphics in the video and what do you know, it shows a character travelling. I googled Ezra Vine and couldn't find much about him. It seems he's from New Zealand. I'm not sure why he doesn't have more success. So anyway before we begin, please look at this first. You may end up playing it on repeat :)

Okay so day 12 didn't start so well. Actually on day 11, I was already having problem with my body that made me quite demoralized and sad. On day 12, I was awoken at around 4 AM because of a sore throat. Usually drinking help because sometime my throat just gets dry, but it didn't. I had a throat lozenge to help me get back to sleep. By the way, let's back up a bit. There's a day tour from Amsterdam that would take you to Antwerp and Brussels. In the earlier stage of planning, I was on the fence about doing it, because again I wasn't sure I want to be in a full bus on long drives and visiting cities don't really appeal much to me, but I just put it in on the plan anyway. However when it's time to book things, the date wasn't available. It's weird that you can still get disappointed about not getting to do things that you're not so enthusiastic about in the first place, but that's what happened to me. I told myself it's a sign from God. You did ask Him to help you make good decisions. My earlier plan was to take that day tour and that would leave me my last day to explore both Van Gogh Museum and Rijkmuseum. A plan that even then I knew would be hard on the feet due to all the walking that I would have had done (--> what kind of grammar is this? It somehow sounds correct to me even though it's quite unnecessary to add had). So anyways, without the day trip, I was able to do Van Gogh Museum and Rijkmuseum on different days and that way I didn't have to rush so much and I had more time to rest and to wake up late. God knows better and it really worked out well for me. As it turned out a less ambitious plan is necessary since my body was showing signs of breaking down that last few days.

I chose to do Van Gogh museum on day 12 because googling told me it's better to book the ticket online since the queue can be long. It's so in demand that when you book online, you have to choose a time slot. I chose 10:30 AM. This is why I chose to do it on day 12 and not the last day because I was thinking that I would just take my time to wake up on my last day (in anticipation of not being able to sleep in the night flight) and also to pack my things properly. With a scheduled entrance, you kinda still have to make sure you wake up on time and manage to get there on time. Getting there wasn't so problematic. I got the 2-day travel ticket. I think it took me awhile to find the machine, but I got it done. I had googled on the tram so I didn't have difficulty on that too. When I arrived there was a queue for tickets, but not very long. I don't know if it's because it's still early. Since I had my ticket, I could go in straight. The staff really checked your time slot. I needed to put my backpack in the cloakroom and you can't take pictures in the museum. So I was basically hands free that I decided to get the audio guide. You can book this while buying your ticket online. I don't know if you get a discount when you do so. I didn't because I wanted to save cost, but when I was there I thought okay why not. The audio guide is pretty good because it has a screen so you get additional multimedia explanation. Let me tell you something weird, or perhaps me being weird. One time the local TV here showed a TV programme about the life of Vincent Van Gogh. It's not really a drama, but it has Benedict Cumberbatch portraying Van Gogh on some parts of the programme. In my audio guide, I chose English (obviously) and the more I listened to it, I wonder if Benedict Cumberbatch was doing the voices for Van Gogh. It sounded like him, but I could be so wrong.

The museum is quite informative because it tells the progression of Van Gogh's arts from when he began to the last year of his life and of course we learned about his personal struggle with mental health too towards the end. I couldn't take pictures, but the museum web has all his collections so the ones I put here are from there. This is not the first time I saw Van Gogh's works. However in other museums where I have seen his works, it's always been works from his later years so to see his early works like this one below, The Potato Eaters, is quite interesting. The dark colours remind me of old masters works like Rembrandt, which Van Gogh did admire. He didn't get good reviews for this one. It is indeed perhaps not that ... hmm, how do I put it, when you see the people faces and such it's perhaps not an accurate drawing of the people. I think someone told him, it looked like caricatures. That being said, the way the people were featured in the painting do represent the hardship and simple lives of the farmers, something that he wanted to achieve. Gosh, I am so not knowledgeable to become an art critic. I feel rather embarrassed putting my thoughts there.

As you progressed through the years, you'll see that his style was changing too. I particularly like this set of paintings. They are being put side by side. Since I didn't have any pictures, I forget if these 3 make the set, but I think they do. They are paintings of flowering trees and all were done in Arles. Comparing this to the The Potato Eaters, you can see his style were changing, especially in the colours and this happened in the span of 3 years. The titles are: The Pink Orchard, The Pink Peach Tree , and The White Orchard.



Van Gogh was very close with his brother who's like his patron. His brother died not long after him and in fact it was his brother's widow and son who rallied and worked hard to make sure Van Gogh's works get to be well known and he be as famous as he is today. He actually didn't get that much fame and fortune when he was alive. The last years of his life is kinda sad. The audio guide told us it's not the mental problems that made Van Gogh a brilliant artist and managed to come up with such imaginative works. It's despite of that struggle. That time being in the previous century, the treatment for this was quite hard. It included things like really cold bath. At that time, he could only paint when he felt good enough to paint. I did feel sad hearing the Van Gogh in the audio guide talked about the sadness and depression. I really like my visit there. It gives you a complete understanding of who Van Gogh was and the process and progression of his works. One of the first area I entered was this collection of his self portraits. The audio guide told us how he looks kinda different in each painting, with different eye colours and such. It's really interesting, it's like he's seeing himself differently each time or perhaps he tried to portray himself differently each time. Do get the audio guide when you go there, it will enrich your visit. I have to say though, you may have certain idea of what the famous works of Van Gogh are and you may be somewhat disappointed on not seeing them here because they're actually in other museums, but here you'll get to see so much more and perhaps fall in love with new things :)

After that, I wasn't finished yet. The Van Gogh museum also has temporary exhibition and when I was there it's about print works which is also very interesting. It covered quite a few things like how back in the days people actually collected books with just prints in them. Back then when entertainment was not like what it is now with TV and Internet, rich people liked to just go to their study in the evening and relax by seeing the artworks in their print books which were quite fancy by the way that they're leather bound. There's also posters which featured ads or things like cabaret show. The ads perhaps as it is now, often didn't feature the product prominently but instead striking images with attractive girls. The posters for the shows also featured works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The audio guide taught me a bit about him, how he's actually from a rich and respectable family and how his family didn't really approve of his close relationships with the cabaret world and prostitutes. Well you can understand that because of how he looked, he didn't have an easy life.

I spent a long time in the museum. I think I left at 3 PM something so I had a late lunch. I still had things planned for that day. One was to cycle around Vondelpark and if I could make it, to Rembrandtpark too. I was nervous about it because cycling in Amsterdam is quite intimidating for people who don't cycle much like me. Seriously the last time I cycled was last year in Hyde Park. Dedicated cycling lane is great but dedicated cycling lane with roads next to it with cars still make me nervous. I always think I shouldn't give in to fear so off I went to the nearest bicycle rental to Vondelpark. The guy there was quite friendly, but that being Europe, they closed shop at around 6 - 6:30 PM. It's fine actually because I still had like enough time to cycle around the park. I opted for 2 hours if I'm not mistaken and you needed to give them your passport. Even the short distance between the bicycle rental place and Vondelpark made me nervous but luckily there were other cyclists (there always are) so I just followed them and made it to the park. Inside the park, I felt less stressed because there's no cars. The park was full with people. It's quite a warm day and I think there's just many people enjoying the sun. There's a pond and fountain, usual stuff in the park. The thing about cycling, I actually didn't stop much to take pictures, I just went along my way.

I made it to the gate at one end of the park. I had googled the route to Rembrandtpark and since I was good on time, I thought I should really do it. Going there made me really nervous because we're really going through streets with cars. Thank God for dedicated cycling lane and other cyclists. If I had been alone, I would have felt so self-conscious and I would have questioned myself a lot, if I had been doing this right. I think the thing that made me nervous the most about cycling on the streets is crossing the street when the light is green. As the light approached red, I got nervous because I was thinking if I was stopping too early and blocking people who wanted to hurry and then when the light went green, I wondered if I was going too slow and again blocking people behind me and I was also nervous that I was not going to make it before the light turned red again. Luckily though, I think I did alright. It was quite a long ride before entering Rembrandtpark but I made it. Rembrandtpark also has ponds. It felt to me like it has more greeneries and with less people, it's definitely more peaceful there.

There are some art works in the park and I was looking for a a particular statue that I wanted to see, but I just couldn't find it. I saw it in google, it's a statue version of this painting, but tried as I may, I just couldn't find it :( One of the statues that I found was this big dog statue. I didn't try to get up there. Maybe if I had been walking it would have been different.

Like in Vondelpark, I didn't stop much to take pictures, I just went around and around. Then I made my way back to Vondelpark, cycled the parts that I didn't cycle before and I went back to the bicycle rental place. I did spend close to 2 hours. It was really fun and I'm proud that I completed a challenge that really made me nervous. The day was still not over yet. With the day tour to Bruges, I got a free canal cruise tour, so I made my way to the dock which was near Central Station. Luckily I didn't have to wait long. The boat was quite full and there's a group of Chinese tourists too. Earphones were given so that you can listen to the audio guides. Maybe I was already quite tired from the day, but I didn't find it to be particularly interesting. It supposed to be 1 hour, but in reality it was around half an hour. I didn't mind it because I didn't pay for it, but for people who actually bought tickets, I don't know if they found it worth doing.

One thing which was interesting and I had heard this as well from the day trip the day before is the fact that the canal houses have pulley on the top of their houses. First of all, land in the city was (and still is) expensive so they couldn't really built big houses back then by the canals. So their houses were quite narrow and they had to built up. Back then being the olden days, they only had staircases, no lift. There's also the danger of flooding so the houses are raised, like my house in Jakarta. To bring heavy stuff into the house, especially to the upper floors, each of these houses have a pulley at the facade of the house, right at the top and the houses also have big windows. So they used (use, still do I think) these pulley to transport things in. I thought that was ingenious and I was like why have I never heard of this before. This is what my house in Jakarta needs because hauling things up the stairs is just insane. I've experienced that. If ever I get to build my own house in Jakarta, I want to have this. I'm curious about the physics of this, how did they construct this and make sure heavy objects can be lifted safely without dragging down the top front of your house and how do you attach the rope. Curious! :D

:) eKa @ 9:48:00 PM •

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