Visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Keukenhof Gardens

After a long travel day on the first day of vacation, the first full day in Amsterdam was very busy! After breakfast, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum for a 9:00am entrance. Many of the museums in Amsterdam are very popular and can get some pretty incredible lines so, when possible, it’s definitely a good idea to buy advance tickets. With our 9am advance tickets, we walked right into the Van Gogh Museum.

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The museum offered an audio guide that was probably one of the best audio guides I’ve used. Usually, I feel like audio guides have way, way, WAY too much information and it would take hours to go through everything. Also, the descriptions can often be so long it’s hard to stay interested for the entire recording. The Van Gogh Museum, however, offered several options on their audio guide, including a 40-minute highlight tour through the museum’s three floors which was perfect:

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The museum, in combination with the audio guide, gave a very interesting overview of Van Gogh’s work and life (which was very tragic). This location was one of the trip highlights:

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After the Van Gogh museum, we headed to the Rijksmuseum (the Dutch National Museum) which was basically right next door. We also had advance tickets to the Rijksmuseum, so we fortunately could breeze past the line.

The Rijksmuseum is in an incredible building built in the 1880s:

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The inside foyer was no less impressive:

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This museum was huge – it would have taken all day to see everything! We focused on looking at the Rembrandt works, instruments, doll houses, town houses (furniture and art), and some ship models. By the end of the visit, I was in desperate need of some energy and rejuvenation.

Lunch at the nearby cafe, Panini did the trick. Noah and I shared a panini with peas/tomatoes and a mozzarella salad:

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After lunch, we hit up one more museum: Huis Marseille.

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This museum is comparatively small and entirely devoted to photography. My impression was that the quality of any given visit would depend a lot on what exhibits were showing. My favorite exhibit during our visit was a collection of photos from North Korea – fascinating!

Afterwards, we took a trip out of the city to visit Keukenhof Gardens. Getting to Keukenhof required about an hour of transit using a train and bus:

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The weather was still a bit dreary when we arrived to the gardens…

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But some beautiful tulips were still on full display:

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Goofin’ around…

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Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world, and it’s only open for a couple months of the year. We were lucky enough to be here just after they opened to the public. Unfortunately, this meant that a lot of the flowers weren’t yet in bloom…

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Nonetheless, there were some indoor areas that had quite impressive flower displays, and the outside flower areas were still fun to walk around even without an overabundance of flowers:

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Returning to the city after the gardens was fairly uneventful, but by the time we were searching for a place to have dinner I was very hungry! Eventually we decided to go to the Pancake Bakery – a restaurant recommended by our guide book and serving the Dutch delicacy, pancakes. 🙂

We shared a pancake with goat cheese/sun-dried tomatoes/honey and a veggie/cheese pancake:

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For dessert, we had some traditional Dutch desserts (when in Rome Amsterdam, right?): appelgebak (chunky apple and cinnamon pie) and stroopwafel (two thin wafers sandwiched together with a light syrup).

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Check back soon for a recap of a canal cruise and other activities during the second day!

 

Other Amsterdam Posts

Travel day and hotel
Canal Cruise, Museum of the Canals, and the Old Jewish Quarter
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam City Museum, and Oude Kerk
Day trip to Rotterdam, architecture tour

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Jerusalem Wine Festival

This past week was the Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum.  The Wine Festival is an annual event, taking place in the Israel Museum’s Art Garden and featuring tastings from wineries from all over Israel.

This was actually Noah’s and my second time to the Israel museum. On our first visit two weekends ago, we looked at a few of the indoor galleries and exhibits. The museum is quite large featuring a wide collection of art, Judaica, synagogue recreations, a model of the second temple, the Dead Sea Scrolls, archaological exhibits, the outdoor art garden, and a few temporary exhibits. When we went, we visited the contemporary Israeli art galleries and temporary exhibits called ‘Dress Codes: Revealing the Jewish Wardrobe,’ ‘Light Spaces,’ and ‘Big Bambu.’

photo from one of the rooms included in the 'Light Spaces' exhibit

photo from one of the rooms included in the ‘Light Spaces’ exhibit

Big Bambu was definitely the highlight of the visit! Essentially, Big Bambu is a huge sculpture made entirely out of bambu…and the best part is that people can climb it! The exhibit is outside in the art garden, and if you buy a ticket to climb you are assigned a certain entry time when you will be allowed to go up in the sculpture:

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Good thing they limit the number of people climbing, because at times it was a little scary climbing up so high on only bamboo floors!

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From the center of the sculpture, it looked like a big mess of bambu sticks to all sides:

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At the edges of the sculpture there were great views looking out over the city and the art garden:

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But back to the Wine Festival!!

The Wine Festival took place exclusively in the Art Garden, and attendees received a wine glass upon admission:

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The various wineries had booths set up around the garden.

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Most wineries seemed to offer about 2-4 wines for tasting, and the people working at the stand were quite friendly and happy to offer multiple tastes or more information about the wine.

Mixed in with the wine were a couple hard cider stands, including one called Buster’s that had an amazing hard lemonade!

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There were also stands giving out samples of passionfruit wine, chocolate liquor, and aperol spritz.

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Mixed in among the tasting stands were some nice places to sit and relax…

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…as well as a few eateries (wine tastings were included with admission but food was for purchase). There was an especially nice looking cheese stand!

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We were at the event for about two hours, and there seemed to be a steady stream of people coming in the whole time. It was definitely a popular outing!

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Afterwards, Noah and I walked home and stumbled upon some live music at the Tahana:

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All in all, a wonderful evening. 🙂

Minneapolis Institute of Art

I’ve been experimenting with different types of protein pancakes lately (see here and here), and I decided to give things another whirl this morning.

I mashed up 1/2 of a very ripe banana plus a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder:

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Then, I added one egg, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 tablespoons almond milk, and 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter:

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Plus 1/4 cup rolled oats and 1 scoop of Tera’s Whey chocolate protein powder:

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The batter was very liquidy, but it firmed up after cooking for a few minutes on the skillet:

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Served with more walnut butter, the other half of the banana, and a couple teaspoons of maple syrup:

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These were tasty, but I didn’t love them. I’m still on the search for a great recipe! Ideally, I’d like to have a few pancake recipes that I absolutely love and can rotate through on those mornings I’m craving something warm and doughy and delicious…I’ll keep you updated as I continue my search!

In other news…I visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) today. The MIA has a collection of over 83,000 objects ranging from textiles to paintings to new media. Best of all, general admission to the museum is always FREE. Special exhibits rotate through, and these exhibits are often for a low cost. I went and saw a terracotta warriors special exhibit there a few months ago, and today I visited the special exhibit More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness.

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The exhibit is meant to explore the changes in our experience of reality due to technology and social upheaval around the world. The exhibit’s title and message is derived from Stephen Colbert’s term – ‘truthiness’ – which describes fabricated truths that disregard facts and/or logic. His term describes mistaking (or perceiving) what we wish to be true for that which is true.

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As might be expected, the exhibit was a little bizarre. There were several pieces of video art as well as some online installations. Here’s a fav:

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Overall, the concept was interesting but I found most of the pieces a little scary. For example, there was one piece that showed the reactions of individuals who, while using chatroulette, were linked to a picture of someone hanging. Although this special exhibit wasn’t my favorite, the MIA is an incredible resource to the Minneapolis community and I would highly recommend going there (for free!!) on a regular basis.