Day 55: St. Pancreas London to Belgium’s Gare de Bruxelles Midi station to connect to the high-speed Thalys train to Amsterdam – in around 4 to 5 hours. Then check-in at the Marriott Amsterdam before heading to the Rijksmuseum – where they suggest visiting after four o’clock in the afternoon to avoid the rush. But I think I need more than 2 hours to find three Judith’s: Botticelli, de Bray and il Pordenone. And look at a few of the 20 masterpieces by Rembrandt.
Every day: 9 am to 6 pm
Day 56: After sleeping in, it only takes 45 minutes by train to Den Haag Centraal – then tramline 17 direction Gravenstraat/Groenmarkt and the first right on Oude Molstraat where I can leave my bags at Paleis Hotel. A few blocks takes me to the Mauritshuis (Royal Picture Gallery). Philip van Dijk has a Judith there, who hangs among numerous Rembrandt’s and Vermeer’s – including the infamous Girl with the Pearl Earring. If the weather coorperates, a walk around the city would be nice, including a visit to the Escher in Het Paleis – as long as it is not too confusing.
Day 57: Say cheese and get on the train about 20 minutes to Gouda. Destination: Sint Janskerk, for the incomparable stained glass windows depicting the Judith story. Might have to rent a bike to get from the station to the center of the city, but that makes a good excuse to see Molen’t Slot (Mill’s Lock) and Molen de Roode Leeuw (Red Lion Mill) – two working windmills in town.
Mon-Sat: (Mar-Oct) 9 am – 5 pm, (Nov-Apr) 10 am – 4 pm; Sun: – closed
Then about an hour on to Apeldoorn station and a bus to Otterlo and the Boutique Hotel Sterrenberg. My destination …
Day 58: The Kröller-Müller Museum, an art museum and sculpture garden, located in the Hoge Veluwe National Park. While i will be thrilled with the second-largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world, my goal is Judith and Holofernes by Arturo Martini. The other amazing art and the sylvan setting are bonuses.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm
Back on the train for about an hour to Antwerp but – ACK!!! – the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten is closed until 2017!!! Parts of the collection are loaned out but it is not clear where Quentin Matsys‘ Judith is vacationing. Maybe i can figure it out before 2017, while I hole up in the Hotel O Antwerpen and visit Ruben’s House.
every day – closed
Day 60: Either 45 minutes by car or 2.5 hours by train (?), I will try the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame in Dinant before leaving Belgium. Originally built in Romanesque style, part of the neighboring cliff collapsed on top of the church in 1228 and it was reconstructed in the Mosan Gothic style. The “onion” spire from 1697 creates a dramatic scene beneath the looming presence of the fortified Citadel atop the Rocher Bayard rock formation. And that is lovely as long as nothing falls on the stained glass window of Judith.
And once that is done, I am on a 2.5 hour trip to Lille … and my first taste of France!