April 7, 2015 11:00 PM
I am writing this entry by electric light on our houseboat. Tonight will be our last night on the canal. Then it’s more lugging of backpacks and hopping of trams. Today we had breakfast at the Thissen Cafe across the “start” from our boat. Phoebe and Dorothy went ahead of the parents and I and got a table, ordered and ate while we prepared for the day. They were finishing up when we came over and ordered, broke fast, caffeinated footed the bill. *Side note: we scarcely fit at a single table during our whole European adventure. People kept commenting on what a big family we had and the five of us totally overwhelmed every cafe. Once we had to leave because the waiter didn’t think the chef could make pancakes for all of us at once.
After that, we caught a tram (our main hobby!) to the museum district and wound around the construction site which will be the new entrance to The Van Gogh Museum this summer. Once we got to the correct side of the mod-squad building, we discovered and extremely long line and tourists from all over the world almost as anxious to see Van Gogh “oog im oog” (face to face) as we were!
We waited outside in a line for almost two hours before finally showing our City Cards and gaining free passage. Once inside, we rented the headphone sets for the audio tour and began to explore. It was delightful! We saw some of our favorite Van Goghs and chose some new favorites.
We saw several self-portraits, the sunflowers, the almond branch, the wheat fields, the irises, lots of peasants, boats, windmills, flowers, the yellow house, his parents’ house, a Parisian street, still lives of a kingfisher, a vase, a horse statuette, and various fruits and vegetables, not to mention birds’ nests and his father’s Bible.
We also saw “the tub” by Degas, a Dutch scene by Monet and a portrait of Vincent by Gaugin, all of which were lovely. We also got to see “peasant woman nursing her child,” by Jules Dalou, which is an incredible sculpture.
All in all, it was wonderful and we had a great time exploring, learning, eating and shopping at the museum.
At the gift shop, I bought a postcard of Van Gogh’s still life of his late father’s Bible and a modern French novel. I want to hang it near my desk as a reminder that there is to be no segregation of spiritual and secular in the believer’s life. Maybe I’ll elaborate on that more in a blog post one day.
After we got kicked out of the museum, we walked to a nearby “Markt” and bought a few snacks for tonight’s meal. I ate some potato chips, pretzels and had a vanilla Coke! We were back on board by eight o’clock and have been organizing train tickets, munching, showering (finally got to wash my hair!) and the girls watched “Despicable Me.”
Still not sure what we’re doing with our last day in Holland, but it will probably require me to be awake…
April 8, 2015 *Germany*
I am writing this entry from a train in Germany! I need to write–and sleep–but I am just soaking in as many German scenes as I can from our cabin window. When I wake up, Germany will be behind us and we will get off in Switzerland. It is nice to be going through so many urban areas, because the street lamps give us a glimpse.
I can’t believe I am really on a train in Germany and tomorrow we’ll see The Alps!
April 9, 2015 *Italy*
I am in Italy! We are on a dingy, old fast-moving train, somewhere between Torano and Milan. Once we get to Milan, we have to run to catch our train to Verona. It will be 9:30 by then and we’ll grab our luggage once again to hop a bus to our hotel. I am SO excited for our hotel because,
1. It is a hotel. So far we’ve been staying in rented apartments/boats. This will, presumably, have room service, a nice shower, etc.
2. I really, really need a shower. I haven’t had one since our last night on the houseboat in Amsterdam, which was like a week ago. Or night before last.
3. Our hotel is inside Juliet’s Courtyard! We will have access when no other (non-hotel) tourist do. Awesome!
By the time I finally take a shower tonight, I will have been on several trams, six trains (or was it seven?) and two buses. Ew. Some of our trains have been very nice. Others, not so much. I imagined having our own little area to sit, maybe with a pull-down table where we could draw, play games, etc. It has been much more like being on a city bus, but nothing too awful.
Our night was interesting. Mommy hardly slept at all, and said it was one of the most miserable nights of her life. I, for one, would rather sleep a week on a train than another night on a plane! It was not the best sleep I’ve ever had, (after all, I was wearing exactly what I had worn all day and am wearing still–jeans and a bra and three shirts!) and I was on a very small bunk with very little padding on a loud, moving train which was hot, and my bedding was like a sock made of sheets and a pillow which was entirely flat in the middle, BUT, I was too tired to stay awake, so I slept hard.
A German woman knocked on our door in a very German fashion around six o’clock this morning for a customs check, in which she came INTO our tiny cabin with a flashlight and questioned my dad with a spray of queries about who were were and where we were going. Sadly, this was our only German experience!
In Milan now—more later!