The Museums of Amsterdam: Van Gogh + Foam

The Van Gogh and Foam museum are arguably my two favorite museums that I have visited so far in Amsterdam. The only thing that I do not like about them is that you are not allowed to take photos inside. I suppose this is a personal preference but I just love photos of museums and really hate it when you can’t take any! So I am sorry, this is a photoless post. :(

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I think what made me love this museum so much is the fact that you really get to know Van Gogh. Instead of having snippets of so many artists works like most museums, you are able to fully learn about his life and art. By the end of my tour I felt like I really understood him as an artist and was that much more appreciative of his work. The way they ordered his work is also very well done. You start at his earliest art and then eventually get to right before his death so you can really see his growth as an artist and how he developed his famous style.

When I first visited I wasn’t sure if the museum would only show Van Gogh’s work but I now know that this is not the case. They also show other artists work from Van Gogh’s time that he was either friends with or looked up to for inspiration. So you really get a full understanding of what the art world was interested in at the time. They also have multiple letters that he sent to friends and family that you can listen to on recording.

I’ll be heading back to this museum in a couple of weeks to see it with Sean and I don’t even mind. I’m not sure how to fully describe my experience in this museum except to say that it was satisfying.

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Foam is a photography museum so if you are not super interested in the medium then it may not resonate as much with you as it did with me. Upon entering the gallery I immediately realized how much I missed and love photography. I mean I take photos all the time, but I don’t really take care with them. I just snap whatever. Visiting Foam really made me want start taking photography more seriously again.

When I went they had exhibitions by Broomberg & Chanarin, Geert Goiris, and Regine Peterson. To be honest I really enjoyed all of them. They were very different from one another so it was nice to see a broad range of what photography can be.

I am definitely looking forward to going back when they change around their space.

What are some of your favorite museums to visit?

Until next time x

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Daily Diary: The Hague

DSC_0270 Last weekend my friend Chloe and I decided to do a day trip to another city in the Netherlands. After much deliberation (And checking of train ticket costs because the place I wanted to head to was 50 Euros…) we decided on The Hague or Den Haag. We set out early Saturday morning and arrived at about 10ish. Even though it was a cloudy miserable looking day I really enjoyed our trip. We mostly just meandered around the old part of the city, but it was nice to see all of the buildings and just chat. DSC_0271DSC_0272DSC_0274The Parliament buildings. We really wished we could go inside but alas, we couldn’t. DSC_0279Old with the new.

DSC_0309We did end up going to one museum, the Escher Museum. The museum showcases work by Maurits Cornelis Escher who I did not know I knew until I saw some of his designs. He is most famous for his impossible constructions such as the one that has a bunch of staircases in different directions.

DSC_0280I enjoyed the museum quite a bit, and a lot of his work especially. Another special feature of the museum was that in every room they would have a different crazy chandelier. There were ones shaped as guitar’s, missiles, and sharks. So weird and amazing.DSC_0287Belvedere. 1958.

One thing that we didn’t understand about the museum however, was why his work was being shown in that particular building. In every room it would have snippets of information about when the Queen lived there, which made for a rather strange juxtaposition. DSC_0295Metamorphoses II.DSC_0299At the end of the museum they had multiple rooms with interact illusion things… my English is failing me right now. Sorry!DSC_0318A church we happened upon. DSC_0325And a giant statue we wandered to while trying to get somewhere else.

I think The Hague is a very interesting city because the Dutch parliament and monarchy reside there. So there are a number of historical buildings to see. We didn’t end up going to the palace but I am sure it would have been quite a site!

I am really looking forward to more trips like this in the future! It is so much fun to get out of Amsterdam for a bit and see more of the Netherlands and hopefully soon, more of Europe.

Until next time x

Daily Diary: IJ-Hallen Flea Market

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Last weekend I was invited by one of my classmates to go to IJ-Hallen, the biggest flea market in Europe. I have been trying this new thing where I actually say “yes” to all the opportunities that I can get my hands on, so of course I couldn’t refuse. We met up at central station along with a couple of her other friends and headed out via ferry to the market.

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The market takes place in two big warehouses filled to the brim with stalls selling an assortment of things from clothes to old tins. It occurs only once a month so if you are visiting Amsterdam and want to take a peak you’ll have to time your trip accordingly. The next market is on February 28th but you can find more information about it here: http://ijhallen.nl/en/index.php

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I unfortunately didn’t buy anything because every time I thought about purchasing something I would convince myself that I didn’t need it. Stupid brain! The one problem with exchange is that I will inevitably collect a random assortment of things and not have enough room to bring it back to Canada. Better to stay frugal I guess. Its a good thing I am already good at that.

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My favorite part of the market was looking at all of the graffiti on the walls of the warehouses. I am beginning to notice just how much graffiti there is in Amsterdam and I love it! I’ll have to make a post solely on that in the coming weeks.

I definitely enjoyed my first time attending this flea market and think I might go again (and hopefully buy something…). This made me excited to visit other markets in Amsterdam, so you may be seeing some more posts on those :)

Until next time x

Daily Diary: Oude Kerk

DSC_0800A couple of days ago I ventured out of my dorm with a mission to see Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam. Thanks to a couple of mishaps and my not liking classes, I now only have two courses this semester, which means I have a lot of free time on my hands. I have no idea what I am going to do with myself! I really need to get a new hobby… But until I find that new hobby, I have been trying to busy myself with touring Amsterdam.

I started my day by taking the sprinter from Diemen to Amsterdam Centraal, and then went by foot to find Oude Kerk. Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get lost once or twice on my way there, but I made it eventually. It was actually rather shocking because I think that Oude Kerk is right next to the red light district, so I found myself once again trying to hide my camera and get out of there as fast as possible. DSC_0809DSC_0756DSC_0734

Oude Kerk is the first cathedral that I have ever visited and it was stunning! I could have probably spent hours standing in there looking at the columns and stained glass windows. My personal favorite thing to look at was watching how the sunlight shone through the windows and made intricate shadows over the rest of the church. So beautiful. DSC_0737DSC_0771DSC_0735

The craziest spiral staircase I have ever seen. Insane.

DSC_0722Until the 29th of March there is an installation in the Cathedral by the video artist Tony Oursler. It was very strange to see an 800 year old building paired with a video installation. I actually didn’t like it very much to be honest. It ruined the serenity of the place, especially because the recordings and videos were so haunting to listen to.DSC_0790

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Rembrandt’s wife Saskia’s grave.

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After my visit at Oude Kerk I thought I might wander the streets of Amsterdam until I found a nice cafe to sit in, drink hot chocolate and write. Instead my plan was diverted when I saw a fry stand (I don’t really know what they’re called..). I had yet to try these vlaamse frites, but every time I am in Amsterdam I see hoards of people eating them, so I knew I had to try them. They are just simple french fries covered in a sauce of your choosing. I opted for Belgium mayonnaise because I think that might be the traditional sauce so I wanted to try that first. And oh. my. gosh. They are amazing! I am seriously craving some write now… I know that every time I go into Amsterdam now if I see one of those stands I am going to have to test my will power to not buy more.

Afterwords I planned to walk around more, but it was so cold that I ended up going home. Some Canadian I am, eh? I hope that everyone likes this new idea for a post. I decided to make a “daily diary” series to share the places and things I get up to on the days when it is something interesting.

Until next time x

My First Few Days In Amsterdam

DSC_0676Hello blog! I have finally made it to Amsterdam after months of anticipation and stressful applications. When I first entertained the idea of going on exchange, I always thought that as soon as I arrived in the foreign destination of my choosing I would be happy and it would be easy as pie. Now that I have been here for about five days, I have come to realize that this isn’t the case at all. I knew that I would miss some people, but I did not know that it would be to this extreme.

I did not know that I would get this homesick and actually want to buy a plane ticket almost as soon as I arrived to return to Canada. I did not know that things like getting a SIM card for my phone or buying a train ticket would make me so anxious. I did not know that I would feel this lonely, even after spending a whole night out with one of my room mates. But even after all of those things, I am learning to cope. I have to, or else my whole stay here will be absolutely miserable.DSC_0685

It has only been a few days but already I am feeling better. There are still ups and downs, but I am hoping that the downs will become very spread apart soon and that the ups will be even better. Already I have gone to central Amsterdam and found where all of my classes are. I wandered the streets and saw the canals. The architecture is amazing and definitely something you could spend all day looking at. I even accidentally wandered into the red light district, but quickly left. It felt weird to be walking there by myself and I also had my camera out (you’re not allowed to take photos there).DSC_0673

One of the things on my Amsterdam List was to ‘be bold, be adventurous.’ And I think I am managing that quite well so far. I am learning to say yes to more opportunities and not only hide in my room.

The other night I went out with one of my room mates to a gay bar called SOHO in Amsterdam. It was fun and my first experience clubbing. I find it rather amusing that my first experience clubbing was at a gay bar but what the heck. Good times!

I road on the back of a bicycle for the first time! This I think is something that might occur a lot in this country of bicycles.

I went to my first borrel, which is a Dutch event where you go drink and chat with people. Quite lovely for just a quiet evening out, and the perfect end to my first day in Amsterdam.

I went shopping with my room mate and we made dinner together and chatted over a glass of wine.

Everyone here has been so comforting and kind. I think I can learn to love this place, even with all the ups and downs.

Until next time x

The Amsterdam List

DSC_0379Something that has stressed me out for years, and especially the last few months, is going on exchange. Since I was in middle school I have dreamed of going abroad to study. Soaking up culture and earning an education at the same time sounds like a fairytale to me. Once I entered university I knew I had to apply to go on exchange.

I spent the first two years of my university career fighting with my self over where I should go. I didn’t want to screw up this once in a lifetime opportunity by picking the wrong destination. It started with Japan, then moved to Germany, maybe Scotland. My friend wanted me to go to South Korea with her while my professor told me the best schools for my degree were in England. I researched and researched different schools, surrounding areas, where I could travel and learn more about the culture. Then, one day my professor told me about Amsterdam.

I had never even thought of visiting Amsterdam, it was not on any list I had ever made of places I wanted to travel. But I chose it. I chose the University of Amsterdam after only looking at a few course listings and some photos of the beautiful canals. I knew this was the place I wanted to go. After choosing my destination the fight wasn’t over. I constantly battled about whether or not I would be accepted, if my essays were good enough, or if my grades were too poor. Then, one afternoon I received an email. It told me that I was accepted into the University of Amsterdam for the January 2015 semester. All those months of misery were for nothing, I have been accepted. I expected relief to wash over me, but it didn’t. The fight still isn’t over. I have never traveled on my own before, never lived away from my family. But its an adventure, and one I am willing to take. I am nervous and more than a little scared, but more than anything I am excited.

I came up with The Amsterdam List as a way to prioritize the things I want to do while on exchange. Its a mini bucket list of sorts, and one that I am not done adding to yet.

  1. Visit the Anna Frank House
  2. See the Van Gogh Museum
  3. Take a cruise of the Canals
  4. Get lost in the streets of Amsterdam
  5. Take a polaroid every day while there
  6. Go on a bike tour of Amsterdam
  7. Go to Rijksmuseum
  8. Meet a lot of new people
  9. Get straight As while attending the University of Amsterdam (lets keep dreaming for this one)
  10. Explore the street markets
  11. Try something new (get out of my comfort zone)
  12. Try Dutch cuisine
  13. Be bold, be adventurous
  14. Try to learn as much Dutch as possible