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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

4 November 2016

Rijksmuseum

Old Dutch masters

Old Dutch masters

30 October 2016

It’s really rather splendid how all the major London museums are free to enter, with the option of leaving a contribution. If you’ve got an hour and happen to be in South Kensington, you can just pop into the Natural History to check out your favourite fossil. If you’re waiting for a friend in Bloomsbury and have a half hour, you can drop in on the Elgin Marbles in the British. Whereas if you’ve spent £16 each to enter the Rijksmuseum it kinda feels necessary to give it as much of a good rummaging as you have the time and energy for. Cue: our second day of knackered feet.

That said, the Rijksmuseum has a really great collection of old Dutch masters. I think my favourites in order would be: Vermeer, Hals, Rembrandt. Seeing the astonishing perfection of lighting in a tiny Vermeer, especially hanging next to other acknowledged masterpieces that look naive by comparison, was well worth the

The Rijksmuseum at night

The Rijksmuseum at night

price of admission. Some of the grandest works in the gallery are group portraits of militia regiments from the 17th century. Having been reading a little about the history of the time, and having walked among the grand 17th century canalside mansions (Amsterdam had densely packed terraced architecture a full century before any other European country had enough population density in the cities to need it), these paintings really helped my thoughts drift back to some sense of what those times would have been like in the Dutch Golden Age.

The museum cafe charged a hilarious £10 for sausage-inna-bun.

Sensible people would have gone for a canal boat ride in the afternoon, but we chose to explore some more streets of the Grachten-gordel, another attractive area north and east of the museums, with Utrechtstraat being another really lovely street for shopping that we were still wandering down when our energy levels finally hit the red zone and we had to get a tram home. Another handy thing about our B&B: there’s a tram stop right outside.

Stunning still life

Stunning still life


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