Sunday, March 8, 2009


We ventured out of our apartment on Saturday into a sea of dense fog to travel to Haarlem. The guidebooks tote Haarlem as a quieter version of Amsterdam. It was a nice city, but I think it lacks the excitement and sites of Amsterdam and the charm of a smaller Dutch town. It was just kinda in the middle. Although, their Saturday morning market did include much more fish than our similar market in Delft. I wanted to buy the fresh sardines, but thought our neighbors on the train back would not appreciate the air freshener.
The impressive church in town, the Grote Kerk van St. Bavo was an odd combination of white-washed walls, frescoes, modern stained-glass windows, and models. The most impressive thing in the church was its beautiful pipe organ.It seems every Dutch town has its master painter from the Gold Age of Holland, and Frans Hals is Haarlem's. The Frans Hals Museum included an interesting and informative history of Haarlem in the Golden Age through the paintings of Frans Hals. They took prints of his paintings, blew them up to wall size and explained the landmarks, people, and other properties of the paintings in the context of the history of Haarlem. We spent the rest of the tour learning about his new style of group portraits that eventually influenced Rembrant's style. His innovate group portraits were the first to break-out of the simple rows of patrons' heads. He added life, emotion, and a story to the expertly arranged compositions.After grabbing a bite to eat in the roof top cafeteria in the V&D department stop, we headed to Teyler's Museum - the oldest museum in the Netherlands. The display rooms, complete with their original descriptive labels punched out on a typewriter, are stuffed full of fossils, scientific instruments, and paintings from the Golden Age. The museum had an impressive collection of fossils, including quite a few dinosaur fossils. One of my favorite parts was pondering over one of the first batteries built of 25 Leiden Bottles.

We had planned to sit in the one of the cafes on the various squares and enjoy a glass of Jopen - the local beer, but the sun had left and it was a bit too chilly to enjoy a cold drink outside. Instead we grabbed a few bottles at the grocery store to try at home with dinner (Jopen Koyt, Jopen Hoppenbeir, Adriaan Rose, & Jopen Bokbeir).

No comments: