Rain and Rembrandt


The day started out cold and wet (and remained cold and wet) so it was as good a day as any to visit the Rijksmuseum and see the Dutch masterpieces of the Golden Age.  En route we saw a pair of coots building a nest with sticks and litter on a tree branch in the canal.  Along another canal we saw a flock of baby coots and Mama Coot came up to tell us not to get any closer.

Having purchased tickets for the Rijksmuseum online we were whisked to the front of the line and went through security.  The security guard smiled and gave me a thumbs up when he saw James the Red Engine among the things taken out of our pockets.

Highlights of the Rijksmuseum:

  • A seated cupid with a mischievous grin who resembles our own mischievous little boy Peter.
  • Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters – Peter enjoyed finding the horses, the dogs, the man who fell on his face, and the little girl running to her daddy’s arms.
  • The Dancing Lesson – children teach a cat to dance.  Followed by Steen’s next masterpiece, “Children bandaging up scratches to the arms and face.”
  • The Threatened Swan – this was Susan’s favorite.
  • And of course Rembrandt, Rembrandt, Rembrandt!  We’d prepared Peter for this trip by getting a child’s book about Rembrandt from the library.  We brought the book along so he could match the paintings to the book and he was very excited to find The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild and The Night Watch.  I was showing Peter one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits and Peter surprised me by saying “and there’s his mother reading the bible” which indeed it was.

Despite his precocious interest in Rembrandt, Peter is still a toddler so soon he was most interested in riding the elevator.  Then things got all confused in the museum because “someone took ill” according to the guard and paramedics rushed in.  All very exciting for Peter.  I went to the coat check and Peter lay himself down on the floor besides Susan in the lobby.  A woman asked if he was worn out and Peter said “The Night Watch!”  Peter’s reward for good behavior in the museum was to be able to run around the Museumplein and stomp in puddles.

Next we walked to the charming De Pijp district and found a kebab shop where we got two falafel plates and a pita kaas (cheese pita) for Peter.  Peter enjoyed singing “Peter’s Pita!” as he ate.  He also worked his charm on the man running the kebab shop who gave Peter a lollipop.  After lunch, we strolled through the Albert Cuyp street market, Peter chanting “lollipops for everyone!”  The market tents had a great variety of foods, clothing, shoes, handbags, and tourist junk.  We stocked up on strawberries, broccoli, and Dutch cheese.  Peter enjoyed the very large birds (herons?) who were stalking the fishmonger stands.   After that we returned to Peter’s favorite playground and then went home for a nap.

In the afternoon/evening we took a walk from Dam Square to the Jordaan neighborhood.  A man fed pigeons in Dam Square and brought some close to Peter to check out.  Later we saw the pigeon man throwing seed at unsuspecting tourists so that they ended up getting flocked by pigeons.  In the Magna Shopping Center we sampled some free green cheese (it was good) and Susan and Peter rode up and down the escalators.  A highly-energetic Peter ran circles around us while I tried to read the descriptions from the tour book.  At the Homomonument, a marble triangle dedicated to the persecuted homosexual people, Peter walked around the triangle singing and dancing.  We finished up in the quiet Jordaan where we dined out at a charming restaurant called Restaurant Vliegande Schotel that specializes in vegetarian cuisine.  Susan tried to order in Dutch but the woman told her “Oh no, you must speak English!”  Nevertheless the food was delicious.

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