After a renovation of nearly 10 years, the Rijksmuseum re-opened on April 13th, perfect timing for my sister’s and my stay in Amsterdam. We were very impressed with this museum, light, airy, spacious — and with its collection of new and old masters. With the re-opening comes wide open access to the works. We were free to take photographs (no flash), and over 130,000 high-resolution images have been digitized and are available from the Rijksmuseum website for free, with no copyright restrictions. This museum is truly a gift from the Dutch people to the world.
May 21, 2013
For our five days in Amsterdam, my sister and I splurged on accommodations in a guesthouse on the Canal Ring. These concentric canals — the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht and their transverse canals — are the historic and cultural heart of Amsterdam, and in 2010 were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our room had a balcony overlooking the busy Prinsengracht Canal, and we enjoyed watching the tour boat, bike, and pedestrian traffic that paraded past. When we were not in our room, we spent hours just rambling along the canals, where we soon felt at home.
Houseboats lined the canals, but residents also used little boats to get around. Tour boats passed by regularly. It tickled us to think that when they saw us sitting on our balcony, they thought us Amsterdam residents.
Amsterdam is full of little decorative touches. Everything was embellished — doors, windows, bridge posts, etc.
The skinny buildings brought their own challenges for residents, especially while moving furniture. We watched the drama unfold for these movers:
May 20, 2013
Whew, are you feeling like a pilgrim yet? I feel like one of those tour guides holding a flag or a pink umbrella, pulling you along the various highpoints of my April journey. I hope that you are not groaning and saying, not another one of Rosemary’s slideshows!
When friends and colleagues asked me, upon my return, what was your favorite part of the trip, I couldn’t name one thing. How do you compare walking a coastal path in Iceland with visiting Kafr Kama, or the souk in Akko to the one in Old City Jerusalem, or my sister’s backyard breakfast with a restaurant meal? I’m not being coy when I can’t name a favorite experience. I loved every minute and feel fortunate for the spectacular sights as well as the quieter ones.
For me, putting together these blog posts about my travels has been pure joy. I get to re-live my trip again as I go through my photos and travel journal, trying to put together a narrative that shows you my impressions of the destinations I visited so recently. I hope you will continue to bear with me. I still want to blog about Amsterdam and France!
May 19, 2013
It was fun to leave the old, walled city of Jerusalem and explore a bit in the modern era! Audrey and I walked up the Jaffa Road to the Jewish market, Mahane Yehuda. What a vibrant place! It reminded me of Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but with more energy. From there, we wandered, mapless, on the residential streets of the earliest Jewish immigrants to Jerusalem. There was always something interesting to see, whether people, cats, or architectural elements.
The Old City of Jerusalem is a labyrinth of narrow streets contained in a walled fortress, with access by one of seven gates: the Golden (or Lion) gate, Herod’s Gate, the Damascus Gate, the New Gate, the Jaffa Gate, the Zion Gate, and the Dung Gate. Inside the walls is the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. The city has four neighborhoods: the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Jewish Quarter. Vendors, elbow to elbow in the narrow corridors of the souk, vie for buyers. Christian pilgrims walk the Via Dolorosa and visit churches commemorating the life of Jesus. Children go to school. People live here, as evidenced by the water tanks, satellite dishes, and hanging laundry in the rooftop view above. It is a busy and vibrant place.
May 17, 2013
Jerusalem has to be one of the most interesting cities in the world. There is so much life both within the walls of the Old City and without in the modern streets. It is teeming with a diversity of people. It is the site of holy places revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims. My sister and I were fortunate to spend two days there.
Today’s post will share some impressions of the historic places of Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City. We saw Gethsemane and its Church of the Agony, the Garden of Olives, the Mount of Olives, the cave of Mary’s tomb, Dominus Flet (where Jesus wept), the Kidron Valley and the large stone cemetery there, the tomb of David, the room of the Last Supper, Dormition Abbey where Mary lived her last days, and the site of Jesus’s tomb near Golgotha. I promise I won’t show any more pictures of the interiors of churches, though I took so many they started blurring and looking alike. I felt humbled to be in the place of so much history and in the presence of so many faithful pilgrims and people.
The Baha’i Garden in Akko was a quiet, open and contemplative oasis after the beehive of activity in the Old City’s port and market. This garden, along with the one in Haifa, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place of pilgrimage for followers of the Baha’i faith. The general public was allowed entrance only to the large formal garden; the mansion and inner gardens were off limits.