In September 2008, on my way to from Karlstad to Munich, I stopped for a couple of days in Amsterdam. My awesome Dutch friends in Sweden had given me a list of things to see there, and at the top of everyone’s list was the National Museum of the Netherlands, or the Rijksmuseum. My Canadian friend Cate and I went in, and found ourselves frustrated that it took about an hour to get through the whole thing. We found out that the entire museum had been closed for renovation, and we had only seen the “highlights” tour. It was unclear when the whole museum would open.
During the summer of 2011, my Dad and I visited Amsterdam on holiday, and once again I was disappointed to discover that the Rijksmuseum was still closed for renovation, but the 10 year process was due to end in 2013. Luckily, the rest of the city, along with other places we visited in Benelux on that trip impressed my father so much he became obsessed with the idea of bringing my mother there in the future. Sure enough, they came to Amsterdam in May of 2013. Since they were relatively closer to my location in Kazakhstan, they helped me purchase a ticket there to visit with them during a short break at KIMEP University.
While I absolutely love Amsterdam and can say with the upmost resolution that I will gladly visit that city in the future without hesitation, this trip was to be special. I had read in my primary news source that the Rijksmuseum was to reopen merely one month before my arrival, which meant that I would be spending significant time there with both my parents and then later with my very good friend Maria who took the train from Germany to see me.
I was so excited to be there both days, and to be back in Amsterdam, which might just be my favorite city in the world, that I purposely left my camera in my pocket simply to take it all in. Besides, it is nearly impossible to capture all that is the famous Waterloo painting, and better to take in the Milkmaid with your own eyes than in a digital rendition.
While touring the complex with my parents, I snuck off to see the Asian Annex, which featured a lot of art from countries I traveled to in December, not the least of which was Indonesia. I learned that the Dutch Colonialists had renamed Jakarta as Batavia, which explains the name of one of my favorite Amsterdam pubs. Everything started to make more sense as I saw the connections between what I had seen in Indonesia and what I was seeing in Amsterdam, which made the experience all the more better.
Besides the reopening of the Rijksmuseum, the rest of the city was aglow with activity. May 5th was Liberation day in the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander had just been crowned, and Ajax had just won the Dutch league championship. In addition, I was able to see my awesome friends Marc, Shelley, and Maria, and also see my awesome parents, who I traveled to France with shortly after our day at the Rijksmuseum. After three visits, all I can say is that Amsterdam is a completely magical city that can only truly be experienced by visiting. Do it.