Mauritshuis at The Hague & Delft

Trip Start Nov 29, 2011
Trip End Dec 10, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  , Zuid-Holland,
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We've been watching the weather reports each day endeavoring to choose the most optimal conditions for our day trip to The Hague and Delft. Conditions seem to change quickly here and I don’t envy the people who do the weather forecasts.  We’ve decided that despite the weather report we’re off for The Hague and Delft today.

Thank goodness for Cash Machines.  We are at Amsterdam’s Centraal Train Station this morning and neither our Capital One nor American Express cards have the computer chip that European credit cards have so they are unusable.  Fortunately, our debit card worked in the cash machine and we have sufficient cash on hand to pay the train fare with cash.  I make a note to check on getting credit cards with European compatible chips when we get home.  Whew.

We arrive at The Hague and the train station is under construction just as Ruth our angel TripAdvisor had written me.  Looking at the walking map she had downloaded on the web, we are a bit disoriented coming out of the train station to find our location on the walking map.  Thank goodness for signposts in The Hague!  We quickly got going in the correct direction and just as Ruth had said, it was easy to walk past the Mauritshuis, which is exactly what we did.  We found some other sign posts and retraced our steps for two blocks – and when finally we saw it, we wondered how we had missed it!  Life is like that – I set goals, get off-track, refocus and get back to reach the goal.  Got to love this travel experience – little microcosms of life!

Our destination in The Hague is the Mauritshuis Museum, the 17th century mansion that offers an intimate period setting for some of the best examples of Dutch painting including 14 Rembrandts, 10 Jan Steens and 3 Vermeers.  We walk into one room and on our left is Vermeer’s "Girl with a Pearl Earring".  We just stand close by and admire it with only a few others in the room.  One woman quickly walks into the room and strides right up beside me, whips out her digital camera, takes a few photos and dashes out of the room.  A few minutes later a security guard quickly walks through the room as if to follow her.  Later, Harvey asks the security guard and he says that there are camera monitors in every room and that they don’t want to make a scene, but they do warn about taking photos.  If they have to say something to a person more than once, they are escorted out.  That is just what appeared to be happening later when I see the same women walking next to a security guard.  From this point forward, I am very careful to only take out my pen with note pad when I am standing in the middle of a room so that no one thinks I might do something inappropriate.

Okay, back to Vermeer.  After gazing at the iconic “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, I turn to look around at the other paintings in the room.  On the opposite wall is Vermeer’s “View of Delft” and I just can’t take my eyes off the translucent light that he used to create a magical feeling.   I’m glad that we’re listening to the audio guide – it keeps me focused on one painting at a time.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed here!  There is a special exhibition pairing a number of paintings from the period 1860-1960 with those in the permanent exhibition from the 17th century.  I admit that to explore and discuss these would have taken far more time and mental energy than I or any of us have today – so we accept that we’re in highlight mode and don’t take the time to read the special handout that describes the pairings, such as Van Gogh meets Van Ruisdael or Dali meets Vermeer.  I have the handout and will be able to read it in the comfort of home, perhaps settled in with a cup of hot tea on a comfy couch in our living room and savor the concepts.

Walking back to the train station, we find a quick “natural, fresh and ready” fast food restaurant called EXKI at Plein 11 (  The selection of soups, sandwiches and drinks suits us and offers a quick lunch.  Perfect!

As we continue on to the Centraal Train Station the wind has definitely picked up substantially and the temperature has dropped – or is it the wind chill factor?  Harvey is walking so quickly and he says that his mind is alert and energized.  Going through the doors into the station the wind was like a funnel with the winds on our backs and I felt like it carried us inside!

In The Hague Centraal Station: we purchase a 1-way ticket from The Hague to Amsterdam via Delft.  At the ticket service counter we got the train schedule from Delft to Amsterdam Centraal with no transfers.  The “no transfers” is important so that we can stay on the same train all the way back to Amsterdam when we leave Delft.

It’s now roughly 2 PM, so we need to make a choice of what we see and do in Delft since our possibilities close at either 4 or 5 PM.  We agree to focus on some history and choose to go to the Museum Prinsenhof which was the residence of  William of Orange and considered the Father of the Netherlands.  There are some English descriptions and we pretty much get a sense of what is on display.  There is a special exhibit of the portrait factory of Van Mierevelt and it provides insight into how his studio operated.  Unlike Vermeer and Rembrandt, through the marketing and production techniques of Van Mierevelt he became a very wealthy man.  We learned the other day that Rembrandt lived in a beautiful mansion in which he paid the mortgage interest for 20 years and eventually went bankrupt.  It seems that Van Mierevelt was the forerunner to Photoshop in many ways.  In the exhibition, there is a well-illustrated informative English guidebook.  Harvey tried to follow one of the hands-on technique displays and he’s bringing home his effort so he can finish it off.

Around 4:30 PM, the skies are getting dark and the wind is literally roaring as we walk around the deserted square near the New Church.  We stop in at two hand-painted Delftware shops where Barry & Karen make some selections.  We meet a woman who seems very nice who says she has been painting for over 40 years.   Now that I think about our time in this shop, I could have asked her more about learning – did she have a natural talent? How did she learn?  Does she do the designs or follow traditional patterns?  Some of my natural curiosity may have been a bit subdued after seeing so much today, but I need to remember to ask questions!  What an opportunity!

Happy hour today is at BonderHaus near the New Church -  it looks inviting and warm.  We try some local beer and meatballs that are crispy on the outside and soft inside.  Then we move on to a lively local pub for dinner called De Wijnhaven. 

When we arrive back at our hotel, we check the weather.  No surprise – there is a severe wind advisory 35-50 mph with power outages expected.  It’s now that I see the email from Ruth in the morning about the weather expected for the day.  Oh well.  We had a really good day despite the winds!

We have a night cap of wine & scotch with nuts in Barry & Karen’s room.  We are surfing the net for jazz clubs for tomorrow night, our last night in Amsterdam!

Back in our room, I go on Amazon and order “Painter 12 for Photographers”.  I’ve wanted to learn how to incorporate painting techniques with my photographs for many years and I’ve decided that it is going to happen in 2012. 

"You cannot always control what happens, but you can control how you react to it."                                     - Harvey Willensky
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