it finally happened. something i have wanted to do for years, & a dream was realized. i was in the land of my ancestors. finally, i was in the netherlands! you've probably already read julie's post about the paris portion of our european vacation. i thought i would share about our trip to the netherlands. for me, one of the highlights was definitely our trip to see the amsterdam ajax, one of the top 3 football (i.e. soccer) clubs in the netherlands. we had a tour of the stadium prior to the match, which included a visit to the pitch (soccer field). that's me, ecstatic, on ajax's pitch. we also saw the press room and the practice field for the team during the tour. the game couldn't have turned out better. ajax won, 2-0, against nec nijmegan off goals from klaas-jan huntelaar & luis suarez.
we also took a day-trip to volendam, a fishing village outside amsterdam. we saw how they still make clompen (wooden shoes), we sampled some cheese, & wandered on the shore of the Ijselmeer. i realized why so many dutch people settled in the midwest. the climate & landscape are very similar to that of the netherlands. we also saw many very round cows & sheep. our trip also included visits to several museums. the rijksmuseum and the anne frank house proved to be wonderfully interesting. but the best was the van gogh museum. which, of course, focused on vincent van gogh.
van gogh's story proved to be quite interesting to julie & i. we saw some parallels between his life and mine, which i will get to in a moment. van gogh started his painting career painting in a very traditional dutch manner. still life paintings using a lot of dark colors, which create a melancholy & somewhat depressing mood. he then moved to paris & realized that he needed to paint in brighter colors, hence paintings like "starry night" and "sunflowers".
the part of his story that i found i related to was that he struggled with his father over his religious beliefs. his father was a pastor & believed the bible to be the only source in which you could be inspired by god. van gogh disagreed with this, & found inspiration from his creator in books other than the bible. it was this struggle that led to the painting of the crumbling church, known as "the peasant's churchyard". for van gogh, this represented the disintegrating influence of christianity. van gogh said something interesting regarding this in a letter to his brother about the painting, “Les religions passent, Dieu demeure” [Religions pass away, God remains]."
i found that i related to this because my parents & i clash on our beliefs. i don't believe, as they do, that the bible is the inerrant word of god. which is why when i see someone quoting scripture as a method of proving something as absolute, my 1st thought is, "so?". for me, it's the story of our fellow christian brothers & sisters and their struggles as they marched through history, as well as how they connected with their god and what that relationship meant to them.
needless to say, our trip to paris & amsterdam was amazing. we created some wonderful memories, learned more about each other, & saw some wonderful sights. we definitely hope to go again.