Marvel at myr­iad art master­pieces

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - CANAL CITY -

You can’t walk a kilo­me­tre with­out bump­ing into a mas­ter­piece in this city.

The van Gogh Mu­seum hangs the world’s largest collection by tor­tured na­tive son Vin­cent. A few blocks away Ver­meers, Rem­brandts and other Golden Age trea­sures fill the glo­ri­ously re­stored Ri­jksmu­seum. The Mu­seum het Rem­brandthuis of­fers more of Rem­brandt via his etch­ing­packed stu­dio, while the newly dou­bled-in-size St­edelijk Mu­seum pulls out Mon­drian among its mod­ern stock.

And when the urge strikes for a block­buster, the Her­mitage Am­s­ter­dam de­liv­ers: the out­post of Rus­sia’s State Her­mitage Mu­seum picks from its three mil­lion-piece home trove to mount mega ex­hibits. Two wheel­ing is a way of life here. It’s how Am­s­ter­dammers com­mute to work, go to the shop and meet a date for din­ner.

With all the bike rental shops around, it’s easy to gear up and take a spin. If lo­cals aren’t on a bike, they may well be in a boat. With its canals and mas­sive har­bour, this city re­claimed from the sea of­fers count­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to drift. Hop in a canal boat or one of the free fer­ries be­hind Centraal Sta­tion. Am­s­ter­dam is fa­mously gezel­lig, a Dutch qual­ity that trans­lates roughly as con­vivial or cosy. It’s more eas­ily ex­pe­ri­enced than de­fined. There’s a sense of time stop­ping, an in­ti­macy of the here and now that leaves all your trou­bles be­hind, at least un­til to­mor­row. You can get that warm, fuzzy feel­ing in many sit­u­a­tions, but the eas­i­est place is a tra­di­tional brown cafe. Named for their wood pan­elling and walls stained by smoke over the cen­turies, brown cafes prac­ti­cally have gezel­ligheid (cosi­ness) on tap, along­side good beer. You can also feel gezel­lig at any restau­rant af­ter din­ner, when you’re wel­come to linger and chat af­ter your meal. Am­s­ter­dam is ripe for ram­bling, its com­pact core laced by at­mo­spheric lanes and quar­ters. You never know what you’ll find – a hid­den gar­den, a shop sell­ing v vel­vet rib­bon, a je jenever (Dutch gin) d dis­tillery, an old monastery-turned­clas­si­cal-mu­sicv venue. Wher­ever y you end up, it’s pro prob­a­bly by a canal. And a cafe. And a gabled build­ing that looks like a Golden Age paint­ing.

1. VAN GOGH MU­SEUM

Hous­ing the world’s largest collection by artist Vin­cent van

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