Bruges Day 1

Our European Adventure 2018

Bruges Day 1

We load up our rental Ford and are off to The Hague. Whe could see smog driving out of Amsterdam but the further away we drove, the bluer the sky. We can see fields and fields of greenhouses which must house the Netherlands intensive high tech farming industry. According to a 2017 National Geographic article: “The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass.” There are also quite a few sheep grazing everywhere.
We visit the Maurithuis Musem in The Hague. This is the home of Vermeer’s Girl With the Pearl Earring  and A View of Delft. Two of our favorite Vemeer paintings. It is a gorgeous museum and the restaurant provides a wonderful oasis for a healthy lunch.
PWait! Is that Kees? Who do we run into in the museum entry lobby but our guide from Amsterdam, Kees! He is waiting for his clients who were late and he feared may not show up. Did we need his services? Sure! His clients eventually show up so we grab the hand held auto guides and proceed to the top floor to view The Girl With The Pearl Earring.  She is worth the trip. Historically, ‘The Girl’ was not appreciated as it is today. It was purchased for a few guilders and is now considered to be the Mona Lisa of the Netherlands. There are many other wonderful Dutch paintings here by Rembrandt and others.
From the Mauritshuis, we visit another of the many museums that you can find in The Hague.  The Gemeentemuseum was built in 1912 and the design is attributed to the dutch architect H.E. van Gelder. It has on display contemporary and works of the most notable Dutch Masters as well as modern contemporary artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky, Karl Appel and Egon Schiele just to name drop a few of the more known artists.  The collection includes a large collection of contemporary sculpture and an intriguing collection of architectural models showing the design influence of Dutch architects in the DeStile style.  DeStijl was a style of art and architecture that embraced a minimalist form of painting and design. To quote Wikipedia: “Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colors.” I just couldn’t say it any better.  Artists and architects of note who embraced De Stijl are:  Piet Mondrian, Vilmos Huszár, and Bart van der Leck, and the architects Gerrit Rietveld, Robert van ‘t Hoff, and J. J. P. Oud. In both cases, visit the museums websites for more information on the building, their collections and if you happen to be going the The Hague, there is valuable visitor information that you will want to read.
After leaving The Hague, we head for the town of Bruges. (It’s sometime spelled Brugge). Bruges is a small town still surrounded by the old city wall that predates the first century.  Most of what exists in the old city center though dates to the Medieval and early 12th century.  The city’s Flemish roots are present through the old city and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit Bruges for a less active and more authentic experience of Belgium living.

Below are some extra photos of our visit to the Gemeentemusum Museum (yes, that is redundant…). The models and furniture are by Gerrit Rietveld and the paintings are by Piet Mondrian. Can you guess the artist of the multicolored windmill?  Yes, you’ve heard of him…Good luck!

Greg and Shelley

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