Date: Wednesday, October 06, 1999 5:43 AMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Sept 24-27: Amsterdam...and the Last Water Hole.
Oops...last e-mail was just Sept 22 and 23...here is 24th and onward.
Sept 24, 1999
Headed out of the Last Waterhole Hostel...stored my bag at the trainstation...and went to meet Kim, who is a student and works at Gary´s Muffins...met up with her...hugged...and was very happy to see her...she was awesome...made me feel very welcome. She got off at 5pm...would meet later.
I walked through the city...past the incredible canals and scenery...this is a truly lovely city that is too often overlooked for simply having a drug and sex reputation.
...I also had a mission...my passport was full of stamps...and I either needed a new one...or an insert of additional pages (YEAH! This is what every traveller loves...a passport full of stamps...I had gone through my first!). The Guide book showed it near the Van Gogh Museum...so I walked across the grassy park area towards where the US consulate was supposed to be...and then I saw it...
The US Flag!
Now...I am not sure that I can describe it to you...but a chill went up and down my spine when I saw it and my consulate...a little touch of home. I went to the gate and buzzed to get in...noticing that the sign said that they were only open 8am - Noon...and it was 1:30pm...on a Friday...they would not be open until 8am on Monday! I explained my request with the voice at the other end of the buzzer...then the gate opened for me...I was once again on what is considered to be US soil! I know it sounds like it is a uniquely American thing...but I bet people from Australia/New Zealand...or anywhere feel the same way. Anyway, I met the guard...he took my passport...and asked me to wait in the courtyard...hoping...
10 minutes later, he returned my passport...with new pages inserted! I was moved...I said thanks...and he replied...thank your government. Now, I believe that it is not often that we truly call on or government to assist us...but in this case, I had...and they came through with flying colors (pun intended)...I was estatic! I walked out...and had a photo taken with me, my US passport, my consulate, and my US flag...God Bless it! (guess I miss home a little more than I let on sometimes...).
Then I went and visited the Van Gogh Museum...which had been recently renovated. Now, some of you (in Los Angeles Cargo) will recall all the fun we had shipping the Van Gogh Collection into LA with our good friends at Masterpiece while this rennovation was going on...I had missed the fiasco...ummmm...I mean show...in LA...so I was pleased it was back in Amsterdam.
I learned that Van Gogh had not been a natural artist...he was truly a student of art...and took it up only at the urgings of his art dealer brother, Theo, who was basically his patron and supporter. He took years to
develop his style...did lots of sketches...the first work he considered a completed piece was called the Potato Eaters...a very somber scene. He would send many letters to Theo telling him of what techniques he was trying to develop and what he thought about various works of art and what he had been thinking when he painted them...so you can both see the picture...and read the words that the artist had written describing his feelings, emotions, and techniques...the museum has something over 700 letters...while
working, Van Gogh often found it hard to find models to sit for him...this is why he did so many self portraits, trying to develop his technique...he would always sit for himself...cool, eh?
Anyway...I love his work...as with the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, you can see how Van Gogh developed his technique and style as he aged and gained experience...it is fascinating.
I then got my backpack and met Kim...we shopped...we had some difficulties when she said we should cook dinner...but that she was a vegetarian...but it was solved when she said she was a vegetarian who would eat ground beef if it was in lasagne...go figure.
...anyway...we went to her place...she made dinner while I talked to her...she insisted that I not help...she had probably read about my cooking fiasco in the Aran Islands and wanted no part of it. Dinner was great! We watched a wierd Danish program called Big Brother...it is like MTV Real World/Road Rules...except that it is something like 10 people...in a compound...not allowed to leave...no TV, no contact with the outside world...and every 2 weeks one is forced to leave as voted by viewers...the final person left will receive a huge sum of money...strange, eh?...then we
headed out on the town.
We walked around the Red Light district...and ended up at the Last Water Hole with Greg, Chris, Beth and Fabiano...played pool late into the night.
Sept 25, 1999
It was soooooo nice to wake in a house...sure it was the couch...but that meant it was not necessary to move to watch TV...for a backpacker, a remote control, a couch, a TV, and especially a washing maching is HEAVEN!
Kim went to work...I had a big fat bowl of Corn Flakes and watched European MTV! ...ahhhhh...bliss.
...then headed out and hit the Riksmuseum. It is a very nice museum...many works of art, as you can imagine...lots to see...but I didn't feel the pull of the Van Gogh Museum...I think I really like Museums that specialize in one artist...now, I realize this is not always practical...but it is what I
prefer...so sue me.
Editorial Note: OK...I must admit...the following few days are hard to reconstruct...I am typing this on the 6th of Oct in Prague...trying to remember the 25th of Oct in Amsterdam...not easy...so please excuse any
errors I make for the next 3-4 days...kinda hazy.
I then went to the Rembrandthuis...Rembrandt's House (Note...my spelling is becoming otrocious (see...did it again...)). It was interesting...short on Rembrant's paintings...long on his stuff...let me explain. See...Rembrandt was somewhat eccentric (go figure for an artist, eh?). He had bought this huge house (because he was somewhat successful during his life...but, taking on American attributes...he bought it on credit...mortgaged up to the hilt...and went bankrupt in the process...but that is later) and filled it
with stuff. Since he was an artist, he loved to have stuff around to paint...so he literally bought swords, shields, pedestals, antlers, ferns, roman statues...you name it...he bought it...and also loved other artist's
works as inspiration. He even bought sketches and drawings from other artists...then touched them up by either erasing what he didn't like...or drawing on the work an additional sketch...so you see many things that were done by someoneelse and he had added to it. Interesting guy...house is OK...but not worth the steep 17.50 Guilders entry fee.
Kim and I went and had Mexican Food in the Gay part of Amsterdam...quite the experience...then hit the Last Waterhole...and crashed.
Sept 26, 1999
Woke...another bowl of corn flakes...and off to the Scheepvaart Museum (Netherlands Maritime Museum)...it was interesting...lots of history on how the Dutch had once ruled the waters...and a restored sailing ship...G'marky, I thought of you crewing on the Columbus ships as I crawled around the
ship...good thing you are shorter than me...I almost knocked my head off several times in the short passages and steep stairs. Also thought of this silly Dutch guy I know in Los Angeles who lives on a boat...wouldn't he love to sail one of these old square riggers! ....probably NOT!
That night I went and saw the movie GO...it is by the guys who made Swingers (YES...still one of the best movies ever made...if you don't agree...you have never lived in LA!...rent it now!). GO wasn't quite as good...but was still funny and amusing.
Caught up with Kim and the crew at the Last Water Hole...see a trend here???
Sept 27, 1999
Woke...more corn flakes...went and viewed the Anne Frank House.
It was incredible. Now...it is hard to say that I had a great time at this place which remembers a family that was in hiding from the Nazis in WWII...but it was a very memorable experience. I was personally moved by the site. They had obviously restored quite a bit...and infact, they were going to officially open a new wing of exhibits the next day...but we still got to see it.
I can't even describe my emotions in the house...there are Anne's quotes written on the walls which describe what she was feeling...seeing...and experiencing. It should not be missed if you visit Amsterdam. As far as I am concerned, it is more important than all the other museums combined.
...in the museum, I also met a very interesting person...her name was Jennifer (like that is a surprise for those of you in the know...) from Cleveland. She works at the Cleveland Museum of Art and was fascinating to talk to. She was in Amsterdam because she had escorted a big art shipment
into and was going to escort out of Amsterdam back to Cleveland (yes...for those in AA cargo...I met one of those darned art escort people!). You can bet I gave her an earful of how much I always enjoyed working with art shippers...but sadly I am no longer with AA Cargo...so to be helpful...I told her if she had any problems to call Mike, Bill, Lillian or Don at LAX! Always glad to give you guys THE BUSINESS!
She had worked with Egyptian art collections and told me lots of stuff about them...we talked endlessly about art and shipping stuff and politics...a really wonderful gal...and named Jennifer...but...2 months happily married (%#*!#$@!!!) with a rock the size of gibralter...c'est la vie...hmmmm...wonder if she has a sister...
...ooops...I digress...anyway...I had to run to catch the train to Munich...bought the Diary of Anne Frank (NOTE: I am now (as of Oct 6) about 150 pages into the book...it is a very interesting book...I encourage all to read it)) and left.
Went back to the apartment to grab my stuff...and hit the train station.
NOTE: Kim, thanks for the awesome hospitality! Really enjoyed hanging with you...we must do it again sometime...let me know if you ever go to Texas! Hope it worked out with Chris! Sorry I couldn't spend more time meeting Hannuka...maybe next time.
Hit the 7pm overnight train to Munich!
Met 2 guys from Seattle, and a guy and a girl from somewhereelse (in the USA) but I can't remember where...oh, well...we were off to Munich and brain activity was not at the top of anyone's list. We had a sizeable party going in our traincar...and it was eventually packed with about 9 people...we had
a stereo going...it was quite the scene.
Somewhere along the way the conductor came along and brokeup the party...so we all crashed with visions of little beer steins dancing in our heads...for tomorrow...we would hit OKTOBERFEST!