It was hard to believe that almost a week had passed on our pre-trip on “Rhineland Discovery” (courtesy of Viking River Cruises). We had enjoyed our time in Bruges, our stop in Ghent, and our stay in Amsterdam.* Soon we would board the ship for our week-long river cruise on the Rhine.
“We have a few hours before we have to check out of the hotel,” I said to my boyfriend L. “I’m going to squeeze in another museum. Then we can grab lunch at De Bakkerswinkel cafe before we leave.” L packed while I spent the morning navigating my way to the museum area where the “i am amsterdam” sculpture stands tall.
There are so many fabulous sights and attractions to see in Amsterdam and I had 120 minutes to spare. I deliberated. Do I visit, as the Viking brochure says, “the remarkable light-infused building that venerates the short and productive career of tortured 19th-century artist Vincent Van Gogh?” Or do I go see the “lush paintings of Rembrandt and other Dutch masters that adorn the Rijksmuseum?”
A visit to the Van Gogh Museum
I chose Van Gogh Museum and am so glad I did. I purchased my ticket in advance so I didn’t have to wait on line. (Note: I highly recommend you visit this museum when in Amsterdam and definitely buy your ticket online or in advance.)
A visit to the museum is like taking a journey with Van Gogh. The collection is the largest overview of Van Gogh life and work, including 200 paintings, more than 500 drawings and his letters. It was amazing to think that he created hundreds of paintings and drawings in just a decade from 1880 – 1890. Sadly, he suffered mental illness and shot himself while painting and died, cutting short his brilliant career. It was his sister-in-law who saw his talent after he passed and helped share his magnificent artwork with the world.
I stopped on each floor, viewing each phase of his paintings. From his first days in Antwerp to his move to Paris where he painted his famous Sunflowers, to his stay in the countryside of Provence where he drew strength from nature with paintings filled with vibrant colors, fields of green, and flowers such as daisies, poppies and carnations. I even stopped to admire his Japanese inspired art, which put me in a very Zen mood. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, it would have been so great to do yoga among the Van Gogh artwork. Maybe I’ll email the curators and see if this can be arranged for my next visit! Oui, oui, oui!))
According to the museum description, Van Gogh “wanted his paintings to afford comfort to himself and others.” I wish I could have told him: They did, they did Vincent. And I wish I could have lingered longer to read every letter. I promise Vincent, I’ll return again some day soon. I will. I will.
Boarding the Viking EIR
By afternoon we boarded the bus to take us to our Viking Longship, the EIR, named for the Goddess of Healing. L and I were excited to embark, meet the Viking crew and fellow passengers who would be sailing with us along the next part of our journey.
Before settling in, there was a guided walking tour of Amsterdam. Moi, of course participated while L relaxed. I had a chance to see the train station, the ooh-la-la red light district, a potent coffee shop, and narrow homes along the canals. I closed out my last day in Amsterdam with 13,600 steps on my Fitbit.
“Welcome to Viking EIR,” said our program director Daniel during our evening briefing. “There are 182 guests in total on the ship from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Britain, with the most (131) from the United States. He introduced us to Chris, the hotel manager, who reminded us to take our Viking namecards whenever we left the ship. He told us about Zara, our concierge, and the reception desk on service 24 hours a day. We met chef Rodal from the Philippines, who with his galley staff prepared our meals each day.
“We’re going to enrich you with culture and jaw-dropping scenery,” promised Daniel. “We hope we can create some memories you can’t forget.”
L and I unpacked for a comfortable stay on the EIR. We were ready to set sail and discover all the Rhine had to offer. With a daily newsletter featuring details for the next day delivered to our room each evening, I was like a kid in a candy store. From the windmills in Kinderdijk to the cathedrals of Cologne, from the Marksburg Castle in the German countryside to Rudesheim’s cobblestone streets and renowned Rieslings, to Heidelberg and then onto the Alsace region of France and the best-ever Black Forest Cake, ever, ever — there was so much to experience and so much more I can’t wait to share with you.
See you next on the Rhine.
P.S. – In case you missed my first recaps you can find them at:
♥ My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – A Delight for the Senses
♥ My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – First Stop Beautiful Bruges
♥ My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – Adventures In Amsterdam
*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Rhine. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.