We checked out of the hotel this morning and left our stuff in the luggage room. Off to the Rijksmuseum but we need to find a place for breakfast first. On one of the nearby streets, it looked, from my map, as though there should be both shops and cafes so we headed in that direction. It's early enough that most of the shops aren't open yet and we didn't see too many eateries but we did see one that was open and it looked inviting. This is a trendy type shopping street, with the stores all designer type labels so the restaurant is a bit more expensive. Caffe PC is elegant but served up a very good omelette which gave us the energy to get through the morning and most of the afternoon.
Since we didn't buy a museum pass, we had to queue to get into the museum but the queues weren't too bad. You go through a security scanner first and then buy tickets. A couple of school groups arrived as we did but they went through a fast lane or one for groups at least.
Most of the museum is actually closed off for renovations and they have their 400 best set up in one wing as the Old Masterpieces exhibit. It's a little taste of everything, i think. In the entrance is a large painting of a group, some weapons and armour and a large model ship. There are beautiful cabinets and exquisite inlay and some wonderful silver pieces. One room is devoted to Delftware and some of that was really lovely too. There's a huge dollhouse that's full of detail.
The real attractions, however, are the paintings by the Dutch masters like Hals, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Rembrandt's portraits are stunning in their detail and realistic look and feel. One of an old woman had hands that looked like real wrinkled skin and veins and others had lace and pearl collars and decoration that looked like it would be real if you touched it. When you look at his portraits next to other painters who worked with him or used his style, you can see he really knocks the spots off everyone else! Of course the most famous, The Night Watch, is there and it's in a room of its own with cards to explain various bits and pieces of it that make it so special. It's very large and the figures in it are full of motion rather than just sitting or standing posed stiffly. It's very different from his usual types and it was a commission where all of the people in the painting paid to be in it.
Because of the abbreviated exhibit, we got through it all in about an hour and a half or so. Normally the museum would take you some hours to see everything, similar to others of it's size like the British Museum in London or the Metropolitan Museum in NY. We did some souvenir shopping in the small shop there. There's a larger shop that's shared with the nearby Van Gogh museum in the Museumplein square.
We didn't go to the Van Gogh though, as neither of us is all that keen on him but maybe next time if we get back again. When we left, we crossed the street and had a hot drink in a restaurant and did some souvenir shopping in a place a few doors down. From there, we walked across another canal, near Candela which is a lovely large green space.
We found ourselves in another restaurant ringed square called Eiders but decided we'd had enough. We took the tram back to the hotel, got our bags, and headed for the train station. We ascertained that the tickets, though two different sets (one dual pass and two singles) were for the same train, just different cars, found out where the platform ("spoor" is the Dutch word, in case you find yourself in a train station in the Netherlands) would be and went there to wait.
The train system seems to be pretty good. Any time we've taken them, they've been spot on schedule. Some of the intercity trains are two levels. This train must be part of the Belgian train system because the first class compartment was a bit different and we liked the seats better, which were a bit roomier even than the other train yesterday. There were few stops and the 2.5 hour journey seemed to go quickly as we talked about our experiences over the past few days and looked forward to a couple of nights in Brussels with a visit to Bruges. Again, just a little taste of both.