I am having an incredible time on the first leg of my journey. Amsterdam is a beautiful international city. The Dutch have a deep respect for the United States and most of them speak English, especially those in the public eye like people in restaurants, shops and the Tram operators. A few have asked me about Trump. They seemed puzzled (as most of us are) about how a man like him could actually be considered for President and trust me, it is not easy to explain to someone from another country who really cares about the USA. Most Dutch people know more about American politics than most Americans. As an example, I had dinner last night with a friend introduced to me by some Santa Fe friends when he visited last year and he knew the Marco Rubio won the Puerto Rican primary.
It is very easy to get around by walking or taking the Tram and for you big city folks, the tram is essentially like an above ground electric subway that usually stops every few blocks. Yesterday I walked from my apartment near the Rijksmuseum to Rembrandt Square on to the Rembrandt House Museum and then on to the Central Station. If you looked on a map you would see I just about traversed the whole downtown area and it was only about 1.5 miles and if you are familiar with Santa Fe that is like walking from the Plaza to the top of Canyon Road.
I am only 6 days into this 2 month journey and I have been to The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk, The Hermitage, the Rembrandt house and Saturday night I attended a memorable performance of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in the world famous Concertgebouw concert hall. The program featured a Braham’s piano concerto and the 5th Symphony by Sibelius.
I want to leave you with a little bit about the cultural history of Holland. It goes back goes back over 300 years to the epicenter known as the Golden Age. After the 30 years war that began in 1618 as a confrontation between the Holy Roman Empire that was trying to impose their domain over the Protestants of the northern part of Holland and it ended in 1648 with a victory for the Protestants. What followed was that the strength of the already powerful Dutch shipping effort ended up ruling the world. The first “stock” ever publicly sold was for the very successful “Dutch East India Company”.
This leadership role in trade along with their advances in science, military force and arms production produced enormous wealth and a lot of it was directed toward the support of the arts and there are several people that directly benefited and you may have heard of some of them. Their names of some were Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Peter Brueghel, Jan Steen and Franz Hals. I have seen some of their best work in the last few days and to stand before the incredible 13 ft x 16 ft “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt, the “Milk Maid” by Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum and the Girl with the Pearl Earring in the Mauritshuis in The Hague has been inspirational.
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