It was by accident I selected Easter weekend (I tend to think in terms of whether or not we have the boys with us only) but this meant that by booking a single days annual leave we could have a five day holiday. Rather than stick to Amsterdam we decided to also visit Delft.
A big part of the appeal of visiting Delft for me was that it is the setting for Girl with a pearl earring; a rare example of a film I believe does justice to the book. In Girl with a pearl earring we follow Greet as she becomes a maid in the house of the artist Johannes Vermeer and through her experience his work comes to life.
I’m a fan of Vermeer’s work but was relatively unfamiliar with it as he produced so little. I’ve seen at least half a dozen Van Gogh’s as I’ve visited galleries on my travels but I still managed to not see a Vermeer before leaving The Netherlands. We did however, see a fascinating exhibition of to scale reproductions in the order in which they’d been painted.
I was quite pleased to point out Woman with a pearl necklace to the husband as it seems he cannot let a reference to Girl with a pearl earring go by without referencing pearl necklaces, something I find rather tedious in its immaturity.
Delft was charming. There is a real eclecticism to the architectural style once you look beyond the tall slimness that unifies the buildings. The New Church in particular appealed to us with its multitiered tower.
Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market lacked impact for me. Encased in plastic, there was little to suggest a connection to the water. Instead it felt isolated. Throughout the city, the graceful bridges lifted you above the canals. The roads with their regular trams are what connects the city together whereas in Delft the roads fit around the canals.
Of course Amsterdam is known for a couple of other things but despite the coffee shops (if you just want coffee you want a cafe or a bar it seemed) and ladies behind the red velvet curtains it’s quite a conservative place. While the cafe culture of daytime drinking was in evidence, that beer was quite possibly one of the many 0% options.
I guess I thought The Netherlands would share similarities with Cambodia (where spliffs were on the menu in many of the restaurants I visited) but the counter culture was subtle; integrated yes but not significant. We had a couple of good meals in the red light district and while I might be reluctant to take my stepsons to them, it didn’t feel like an especially novel part of the city. I forgot several times that the area was supposedly notorious.