Ted and I are back from Amsterdam and Paris -- we had a great, beautiful trip. We went first to Amsterdam with New York City friends and neighbors, Dan and Bunny Gabel, and Don and Joyce Healy, and their adult children Brian and Mary Healy, wonderful traveling companions all -- interested and interesting. We had all gone, a larger group, together to Amsterdam in 1987 to celebrate the 50th birthday of our beloved friend Gerard Mutsaer. Gerard died, three years later, on Jane Street in New York City. We went now to visit Gerard's sister, our dear friend Ton, who lives in Amsterdam, and to remember what would have been Gerard's 71st birthday.
Ted and I had the great good fortune to stay in Amsterdam with our friends the Hoflands. Ted had met Dick Hofland through Gerard on Jane Street and now we are close friends with Dick and Jeannette and their teenage sons Tom and Dirk.
We took the red eye from Newark Airport, and when we arrived in Amsterdam the following morning, Ted and I walked, jet-lagged and bleary-eyed to the Van Gogh Museum. Wow. Beautiful. All those Van Gogh paintings on one floor create in the end a powerful meditation of a truly singular artist. But what a sad story. Vincent Van Gogh was untrained as an artist but his brother Theo encouraged him to paint, probably recognizing the genius. But Vincent suffered from epilepsy and depression and in the end he shot himself in the chest. The artist died two days later with his brother Theo at his bedside. Six months later, Theo died. Of course, Van Gogh's paintings changed the course of art history.
We traveled through Amsterdam almost completely by bicycles provided by the Hoflands. Everyone in Amsterdam rides bicycles. In the city they have wonderful bike lanes in the streets and it's a breeze to get around, along the canals, over the bridges, through the parks. I love bicycles -- I'm a bicycle boy -- so I was in heaven. I liked seeing the beautiful girls dressed up in high heels on bicycles. It's how the Dutch stay slim and fit! My favorite time riding was at night when the canal houses were lit up so we could see inside.
The next day Dick Hofland took us all for a ride on his big boat through the canals. There is no better way to see the old Dutch houses, all with different crenelated roof tops, then from the canals.
That night we went to the ballet and rode bicycles home at midnight. We had only three bikes so Jeannette sat on the back of Dick's bike. Here she is with a red light (required by law) attached to the back of her white Gucci coat.
On Sunday morning Ton arranged to have an architectural historian take us on a tour of the Amsterdam waterfront where many new modern residences have been developed. In the afternoon I went by myself to the Museum Van Loon, a beautiful 18th century house museum. I got slightly lost on the way home on my bike.
The last night in Amsterdam we all gathered for dinner in Ton's apartment in a canal house with gardens in the back. We sat and talked and then breezed home, past the canal houses glowing with lights. I don't think I'll ever forget riding through Amsterdam at night on bikes.
Here is a slide show with more pictures: