Amsterdam Diary!

Amsterdam Cafe

“In the midst of winter, I discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

As we wait for the ground to thaw here in NYC and a glimmer of spring to finally arrive, I find myself dreaming not of spring, but of summer! For a little inspiration, I’m sharing with you my adventures of last summer … which led me to the wonderful city of Amsterdam. I had the great pleasure of visiting Amsterdam for the first time, and fell in love with the city immediately! Amsterdam is utterly charming … I was enchanted with it’s old world architecture, winding canals and relaxed vibe. It has the same artsy, alive energy as NYC, less the frenetic pace. It’s earned a place on the list of my favorite cities: NYC, Rome, Prague … Amsterdam!

Amsterdam Flower Market

Amsterdam Flower Market

Amsterdam Flower Market Sunflowers

Amsterdam Flower Market Sunflowers

There is definitely an active art scene in Amsterdam – of course the renown Van Gogh Museum is a must-see. I’m a long time lover of fin de siècle art, and besides the museum’s permanent collection of over 600 of post-Impressionist Van Gogh’s paintings, drawings and prints, they house many works of his contemporaries as well as an important collection of fin de siècle prints.

Van Gogh's Iconic Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Iconic Sunflowers

During an afternoon of exploration in the city, we stumbled upon Dutch artist Mark Raven’s gallery. His self-proclaimed “life long love affair with the city” is readily apparent in his artwork, and I liked his combination of lithography, etching, painting and image manipulation, resulting in a unique interpretation of the city scenery.

Mark Raven Artwork

Mark Raven Artwork

Bikes along a city street

Bikes along a city street

Our gracious host Francois sings with De Nederlandse Opera, and he invited us to the company’s production of Parsifal, which was in production during our visit. I must confess, that even for a professional opera singer like myself, who has logged countless hours of performing, rehearsing and watching opera, viewing a 5 hour Wagner opera is a bit daunting. Happily, we completely enjoyed ourselves, as De Nederlandse Opera’s production was engaging, compelling, and well sung, and I felt the modern production aesthetic worked dramatically. A bonus was the world-renown Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra playing the gorgeous score. The performance we saw was being filmed – this is one to check out if you get the chance! During the intermissions, we enjoyed a libation on the opera house’s lovely balcony overlooking one of the city’s many canals.

My Amsterdam host Francois, me and Dutch friend Danielle at the stage door of De Nederlandse Opera

My Amsterdam host Francois, me and Dutch friend Danielle at the stage door of De Nederlandse Opera

 

View from the Opera House balcony

View from the Opera House balcony

Now at this point, I’m sure you’re wondering about our low-brow fun … what about the notorious red-light district? Yes, we did take a stroll one evening with the libertines … and really, I didn’t find it terribly debauch – the Dutch just seem more up front about certain actions and transactions. But, I did see something elsewhere in the city that I found rather shocking … for more details, gentle reader, you’ll have to ask me in person … (and please do ask me! As a long time New Yorker, I feel like I’ve seen it all, but clearly I haven’t!)

Amsterdam canal with boats

Amsterdam canal with boats

I once heard it said that every year you should revisit a favorite location and travel to some place new. As a lover of travel, I’ve embraced this adage and we shall see where my adventures will lead me this year. At the moment, I feel bell’Italia calling my name … I’ve thrown my coins into the Trevi Fountain, so I am bound to return!

Happy Travels!

 

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