"An Afternoon and Evening of Cultural Pursuits" Netherlands Things to Do Tip by eflguy44
Netherlands Things to Do: 794 reviews and 1,030 photos
I had only spent a day-and-a-half in Amsterdam, during my brief sojourn away from London; but as soon as I had read up on the local attractions upon my arrival, there was no question in my mind as to what places I most wanted to visit.
I am first and foremost a lover of both art and music. When I discovered that the Van Gough Museum and Concertgebouw were within walking distance of one another, I knew that my itinerary was set for the day.
I arrived at the Museum around 9:00 AM so that I would have ample time to see as much of the exhibit as possible before closing time. The price of admission for adults, back then, was quite reasonable and one could also rent a digital-audio playback device with a spoken commentary for a modest fee. The spoken commentary, geared to each of the individual paintings in the exhibit, was available in English, Dutch, German, French and Spanish. The commentary was quite informative and helpful, offering historical background on the life and works of Vincent Van Gough and his contemporaries like Monet and Gaugin. I highly recommend visiting the Museum and its Gift Shop for anyone who appreciates fine art.
After admiring the paintings in the Museum's collection for a few hours I became quite hungry and decided to take a break for lunch in the Cafeteria. I should point out at this juncture that at the time of my visit to Amsterdam the Dutch were still in the process of switching over to the Euro as their primary mode of currency. Thus when I walked into the cafeteria (and most other shops and markets during my brief stay) I noticed that prices for menu items were listed in both Euros and Florins. I ordered some tomato-vegetable soup and a sandwich of smoked salmon and lettuce. As I sat down to eat I noticed that everyone in the cafeteria was using a knife and fork; even to eat sandwiches which most Americans eat with our bare hands (!) Not wanting to be conspicuous, I readily adapted to this quaint custom and enjoyed a hearty meal.
I stayed at the Museum until about 4:30 PM and then made my way over to the Concertgebouw; which is one of the most famous concert halls in the world. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra was performing there later in the evening and I was anxious to see if I could purchase a ticket for the performance. I went first to one of the Administrative Offices to inquire what sort of dress code was in effect for patrons. I had lost my overnight bag on the train from the airport to Centraal Station (see my tip: "Luggage and Pickpocket Woes in Amsterdam") and the only clothing I had was what I was wearing: a long-sleeved "Oxford" style shirt, denim jeans and corduroy jacket. I was concerned that the accepted dress for patrons was formal-only and that I would not be allowed in because of my appearance. To my relief I learned that the dress code was very lax indeed and I happily went to purchase a ticket. I have many recordings by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in my CD collection and I wanted very much to be able to hear them live in the Concertgebouw's famed acoustics.
I still had a few hours to kill before the concert so I did some window shopping and took some photographs of the immediate area (which I will post here in the next few weeks). I also became hungry again and so I stopped at a local grocery store and purchased another sandwich, a pint of yogurt, a banana and an apple and a pint of milk... all for the equivalent of $4.95 USD, very inexpensive indeed!
The concert was marvelous and I was happy that one of my favorite musical works, Debussy's "La mer", was on the program. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has fantastic woodwind and brass sections and it was a joy to hear them live. If you love fine music performance you can't beat an evening at the Concertgebouw!
Directions: Van Gough Museum/Concertgebouw
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