I got to Amsterdam last night and didn’t do much besides walk around a bit and eat some Wok to Walk. It amazes me how many restaurants are the same as NYC-aka Wok to Walk, Maoz, Ben & Jerry’s and Australian Ice Cream. Today though I went on a free walking tour of Amsterdam which was really interesting. The tour guide was a little crazy-an Australian with dreds that lives in Amsterdam-so what do you think he’d be like? Anyway, he was great and very enthusiastic about Amsterdam. I never really knew much about Amsterdam-minus the lax laws on marijuana and the sex industry. But the people have always stood up for others-like Indonesians and Jews-and have some of the coolest architecture! I love it! The older buildings are slanted forward to aid when raising objects into the homes. They also all have awesome roof decorations. I also saw Anne Frank’s home from the outside, and went into the church whose bells she heard everyday. The bell tower was beautiful-adorned with red, blue and gold-and the church itself was a simple nave-unlike most churches that I’ve been seeing (except the Florence duomo).

This afternoon I went to the Van Gogh Museum and absolutely LOVED IT! I have always loved Van Gogh’s work but seeing it progress from his first pieces when he decided to become an artist to his death was truly incredible. I really only knew some of his self portraits, Starry Starry Night and The Bedroom, all that were very impressionist, but he started out being deeply influenced by the dark Dutch paintings which use a TON of black. But upon moving to France and pleadings of his brother, he used more and more light. It was fascinating to see his paintings using pointilism and then how they evolved into longer strokes. He also played with amounts of paint which add depth to each painting. It was also interesting to see how other artists influenced each other and worked together. The exhibit juxtaposed Renoir and Van Gogh, so it was easy to see how they were similar or pulled various ideas from one another. I really enjoyed being able to see new paintings that I had never heard of. Some of my favorites were The Harvest, Fishing Boats on the Beach, View of Auvers and Almond Blossoms.

They also had another exhibit about the collection of Andries Bonger which featured works from Odilon Redon and Emile Bernard, two artists that I hadn’t heard of but really enjoyed most of their work, particularly Redon. It was wonderful seeing all of these masterpieces up close. It is one of my favorite things. Seeing The Bedroom by Van Gogh in person was spectacular-something that is very difficult for me to describe. I looked at the Van Gogh pieces twice just to really cherish them, but the crowds were insane so the 2nd go around was very quick. Tomorrow I’m going to the Anne Frank House and probably walking around more/taking pictures/shopping for souvenirs. More tomorrow night and pictures too!