As previously noted, we took the Whitsun / Pentecost / Pinksteren weekend in the Netherlands for some low-key tourism, the most high-energy part of which was the Amsterdam church tour recommended by Cate Desjardins. To get the basics oout of the way:
We stayed in the Schiphol Airport Hampton by Hilton, in the outskirts of the town of Hoofddorp, across the road from the railway station and just off the motorway. Very comfortable room and decent breakfast. Half the price of similar hotels in the city.
Friday dinner: nipped across the road to the Novotel for the Gourmet Bar, very acceptable.
Saturday coffee: Aran’s Irish Pub, between Max Euwe Plein and Singelgracht.
Saturday lunch: McDonald’s, I’m afraid. (Damrak 8, near the Nieuwe Kerk)
Saturday snack: De Koffieschenkerij, beside the Oude Kerk.
Saturday dinner: we ventured into Hoofddorp which turns out to be an atrtactive enough dormitory town, and ended up at the Tandoori Lounge which was absolutely fine.
Sunday coffee: at the English Reformed Church, Amsterdam
Sunday lunch: De Wachtlokaal, a cheerful cafe near the station in Haarlem; my salad was huge.
Sunday snack: Cleef Frans Hals, the museum cafe in Haarlem.
Sunday dinner: I was determined not to leave the Netherlands without a rijsttafel, and found one at Sari in Heemstede, 10 km from our hotel.
Monday lunch: Fantastic pancakes at ‘t Hoogstraatje on a square in Nijmegen.
Monday snack: Eis Cafe Riva in Kleve.
On Saturday and Sunday we travelled to Amsterdam and Haarlem by train, and then drove to Heemstede that evening, and Nijmegen and Kleve on Monday.
So, what did we do? One thing that didn’t work out was my original plan to visit the Rijksmuseum. We had already completely missed the Vermeer exhibition, which apparently sold out in a couple of hours after the tickets became available. And it turns out that the rest of the Rijksmuseum is so popular that you need to book several days in advance just to get to the permanent exhibition. So we struck out on both Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, as mentioned, we did the church tour and on Sunday we went back to the English Reformed Church (which is in fact run by the Church of Scotland) as it had been closed the previous day, and mingled with the congregation drinking coffee.
We then took the train to Haarlem, to visit the Frans Hals Museum. Misleadingly, it doesn’t have all that much art by Frans Hals, though it does have some, including all of his surviving group portraits (one currently on loan from the Riksmuseum). It does have a very rich store of European art from his day onwards, including this Bosch-like Temptation of St Anthony by Jan Mandijn:
From more modern times, I very much liked this Standing Nude by Theo van Rysselberghe, a Belgian painter who tried pointillism and then tried nudes, this one dating from the crossover point. (I have not found another image of this particular painting online, though there are plenty of the same model painted nude by van Rysselnerghe in different poses.)
We spent most of the afternoon atthe museum and could easily have spent longer. The cafe was good too.
The next day was Open Church Day in the Netherlands, and we discovered that another church with decorations by Jan Dunselman was open for visitors in Nijmegen. This is the furthest from Amsterdam of any of his churches, the only other outlier being his home town of Den Helder.
In the Church of the Nativity of Mary in Nijmegen, Dunselman again did the Stations of the Cross, similar and also different to the ones in the Basilica of St Nicholas in Amsterdam. Compare the two takes on “Jesus Falls the Third Time”, Nijmegen above, Amsterdam below.
The walls are also decorated with various saints offering their approval. My eye was caught by the two St Catherines. Are you Team Alexandria, or Team Siena?
We walked to the centre of Nijmegen, past a lovely ruined chapel, and had lunch outside at a pancake restaurant on the square.
Our final stop was across the German border, at the Church of the Assumption by the Kleiner Markt in Kleve. This interests me not so much for what is there but for what is no longer there. The white building on the right is on the site of the inn “Zum Grossen Kurfürst” which featured several stucco ceiling by my favourite seventeenth-century stuccador, Jan Christian Hansche. It was destroyed during the second world war.
There is some striking sculpture in the square, the “Fountain of Fools” in the middle:
And by the church, the Fallen Warrior by Ewald Matare, erected in 1934, removed and broken up by the Nazis in 1938, and restored in 1981.
The church itself is rather pretty inside, with some medieval artwork that must have survived elsewhere, but I don’t seem to have taken any photos. We had a little look around Kleve and had a final snack in a square whose fountain boasts another remarkable sculpture by Karl-Hennig Seemann, commemorating local legendary boy Lohengrin:
And then we went home.