Friday 9 April 2010

A View of Delft

A sumptuosly sunny day today after yesterday’s greyness. We went to Den Haag in the morning – great, elegant city, and visited the Mauritshuis Museum, which hosts, in a couple of rooms, around a dozen all-time masterpieces of painting (all by Vermeer and Rembrandt, although there’s a few interesting paintings by Hals, Van Eyck, Holbein, Bruegel and others).

Because The Hague is not on the main touristic routes (for the time being!) and it was a Thursday morning, we could actually see the paintings without having to elbow our way to the front. I spent five minutes gaping at The Girl with a Pearl Earring (which we saw before at the Vermeer exhibition at the National Gallery a few years back), and ten in front of Vermeer’s View of Delft, the real reason why we went all the way to Den Haag. The Rembrandt paintings were also very impressive, not just his self-portraits (which seem to be in every gallery in the world) but his famous Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.

After lunch we decided to see the real Delft, Vermeer’s city, and what a discovery it was. Without a doubt, it is the highlight of our trip so far. If you’ve never been there, we heartily recommend it. It’s a gem of a city – easy to visit, beautiful and surprising at every corner. The flower market was on, as well as a big market in the main square, between an impressive old building and the New Church – new as opposed to the older one a few hundred yards away – dating back to the fourteenth century.

After a brief stop at our hotel in Leiden, we were off again at around 7:00pm, this time bound to Amsterdam, which we had visited a few times before we had our kids. We were there in little more than half an hour, parked a couple of hundred yards from the Dam and had a lovely dinner at Gauchos – which, funnily enough, I think is the same chain we have on the riverside in Richmond.

So this is Holland in a nutshell – a lot of life, history, culture, variety, and all very close at hand as it’s a relatively small country. We are loving it.


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