Letter from Amsterdam

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Rembrandt’s The Night Watch


Museums: The newly refurbished Rijksmuseum is a pleasure; the art has been beautifully re-installed on deep-colored walls, and the paintings are well-spaced for easy viewing. Nearly all of the Rijksmuseum’s important Dutch paintings are located in the Hall of Honor, where one can view Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, The Jewish Bride, The Wardens of Amsterdam and various self-portraits, along with Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and Woman Reading a Letter, plus works by Franz Hals, Pieter de Hooch and many more. It was a special treat to see Rembrandt’s Claudius Civilis, on loan from the Swedish Academy of Fine Arts for only the third time in 240 years. Readers, do take a minute to view this joyful advertisement for the reopening of the Rijksmuseum:





If you are looking for a delightful guide to take you to the Rijksmuseum or elsewhere in Amsterdam, we can recommend Emmy Busman (+31 6 41 02 77 83 or elingl@xs4all.nl).

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Vermeer’s The Milk Maid


Rembrandt's Claudius Civilis

Rembrandt’s Claudius Civilis


In addition to visiting the wonderful Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum, we made an hour journey from Amsterdam to visit the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo. The museum houses the private collection of Helene Kroller-Muller, boasting the second-largest collection of Van Goghs in the world, including Café Terrace at Night, along with works by Gaugin, Mondrian, Braque, Picasso, Seurat, Brancusi and contemporaries. It has a lovely sculpture garden with well-placed pieces by Henry Moore, Rodin, Jean Dubuffet, and Mark di Suvero and others. We strongly recommend this delightful outing.

Van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night

Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night

Restaurants: We were entranced by the food at Ciel Blue on the top floor of the Hotel Okura (Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LH Amsterdam, + 31 20 678 71 11). Normally, when we hear about restaurants on the top floor of anything we run for the hills, because the food never lives up to the view. Ciel Bleu certainly broke that rule; rarely have we had such creative food or such imaginative combinations of tastes that literally exploded in our mouths. Put this on the top of your list for Amsterdam -– it definitely merits its two-star Michelin rating.

We also had an excellent meal at a rather peculiar restaurant called Restaurant & SamoudPlaces (Oosterdokskade 5, 1011 AD Amstedam +31 20 260 2094). Don’t be put off by the location, way at the edge of town, or by the bar-like atmosphere of the second-floor restaurant. The food is stunning, again truly creative and using only the freshest ingredients.

Less impressive was Bord’Eau (Hotel d L’Europe, Niewe Doelenstraat 2-14, 1012 CP Amsterdam, +31 20 531 1777) the third Michelin two-star restaurant we tried. Both the menu and the food were solidly average.

Finally, our concierge recommended a one-star restaurant called Lastage, which should be avoided. While the food was acceptable, the space is cramped and noisy, the waiters young, inexperienced and argumentative.

Hotel: We stayed in the newly refurbished Hotel de L’Europe, ( Niewe Doelenstraat 2-14, 1012 CP Amsterdam, +31 20 531 1777) which we enjoyed very much. The new Dutch Masters wing has comfortable suites on the canal, and the service was impeccable.


Barbara Vogelstein

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