Living Paintings

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

June 7, 2019

Maids and mothers working at home, nature in action or inaction, food and flowers on the table. Whatever the scene, tableaux vivants and still life paintings were the photographs of 17th-century Netherlands. Dutch Realism rendered these static and silent paintings as “living pictures” evoking movement and texture, sound and smell. A visit to Rijksmuseum, particularly the Gallery of Honor, provided a peek at a time in history we would otherwise only see with our mind’s eye.

Rijksmuseum @ Amsterdam
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The Windmills of My Eyes

Leiden / Wijk bij Duurstede / Zaandam, the Netherlands

June 7 – 9, 2019

Wind and water defined the Netherlands. Both elements billowing from the North Sea had shaped the country’s geography and culture. Sea breeze could blow a gale. The sea itself could sink a third of the country, one of the Low Countries, that lay below sea level. But the Dutch in centuries past were a hardy bunch. They harnessed these elemental forces with windmill technology to power their survival and progress.

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Protestant Gothic

Delft, the Netherlands

June 10, 2019

Magnificent, towering, ancient. Such description could not apply to Protestant churches in my country. Grandiose church architecture was exclusively within the purview of Catholicism. As a Baptist, we traced our religious heritage to the American occupation a mere century ago. Our places of worship were modern and minimalist as Catholic cathedrals were massive and ornate. I was today years old when I saw the Gothic grandness of two Protestant churches dominating the skyline of Delft in South Holland.

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TTT and Sis @ Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Delft
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A Remembrance of Rembrandt @ Rijks

Amsterdam and Leiden, the Netherlands

June 7 – 8, 2019

I was born 300 years after the death of Rembrandt van Rijn. My 50th birthday trip and first visit to Amsterdam fell on the final dates of a memorial exhibition encompassing the 400-strong Rembrandt oeuvre housed in the Rijksmuseum, the national repository of Dutch art. Half of the only day I had to see the city was spent getting acquainted with the history and culture of the Netherlands through the eyes and hands of its most renowned artist. Where could a definitive collection of Rembrandts be held but at Rijks?

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Rembrandt and his Mother @ Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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A Long Way on a Long Day

Den Haag (The Hague) and Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands

June 6, 2019

“Are you a seaman?” The unexpected question nudged me awake from my jet lag. As a male solo traveler bearing a Philippine passport, I couldn’t blame the Dutch immigration officer for profiling me. If anything, our countries had a maritime connection. I chuckled a no and he let me breeze through. Why did I even worry about my first entry to Europe? This was how easy-peasy it was.

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Binnenhof Across Hofvijver @ Den Haag

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Fifty Be Like

Den Haag, the Netherlands / Le Puy-Sainte-Reparade, Bouches-du-Rhône, France / Casablanca and Tangier, Morocco

June 10 / 15 / 19, 2019

More than 3,000 kilometers from Amsterdam to Marrakesh. That was how much distance I covered in my epic trip to celebrate my 50th birthday and the 10th anniversary of my blog and alter ego – TTT (The Transcendental Tourist).

Three countries and 15 cities by land. That was how intimately I was acquainted with my itinerary as I traversed almost the entire stretch through railway and highway, but mostly on foot – save for one flight across the Mediterranean.

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TTT Flying Over the Mediterranean aboard Royal Air Maroc
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