September 1, 2014

The Day in Den Haag


The Hague has always been a little bit elusive to me. It's really close to everywhere I've been in Holland, but it just seems like I can't ever figure out what I should do there, so I haven't felt comfortable just "going for it."

But this year, one of the coaches at the volleyball camp recommended going to the Mauritshuis. He was like, "Do you like museums?" And I was like, "It depends..."

The Mauritshuis.
Then he told me that the Mauritshuis had the Vermeer painting of "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Okay, Den Haag, I see you, I see you.

This route took me on a new bus in an area of Wassenaar that I didn't even know existed, and dropped me off at the edge of the center. I felt confident striding down the boulevards in my museum outfit (you know, to look more artistic, you should always wear black, and a dress is nice touch, too), and got in the line already forming outside the Mauritshuis.

One of the brighter pieces:
"Vase of Flowers in a Window"
by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder
Dutch art is interesting, and definitely different than anything I've seen in France. They used a lot of bright colors, but only on the subjects of focus. All of the backgrounds were very dark browns, greens, blues, and blacks. Maybe this was a technique used to make the subjects "pop" more, but it gave me a sense of every subject having to come out of darkness and into the light. Not something I would put on a wall, but I'm also a sunny person, so that's okay.

However, "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is: stunning. Again, the dark background, but the way Vermeer teases with the light in the paint is incredible. You really do just stand there and stare back, wondering what the girl is thinking, hoping, and going to say. It is thought that great art speaks to us; but really, it just looks back at us silently.

Great art is the art that captures our attention, makes us look again, and encourages us to want to know more.

"View of Delft" also by Johannes Vermeer
The Dutch artists loved painting flowers and outdoor scenes, and all of the paintings are available in various forms in the actually reasonably priced museum gift shop on the lower level. To the right of the exit from the Mauritshuis, is some kind of castle complex, and that was cool to walk around, too.

My favorite restaurant from this trip was De Twee Heeren Bar Bistro in the center. It might have helped that I was their only indoor customer and got to ask as many questions as I wanted.

Everything. Was. So. Good.

I ordered their organic hamburger (as one of the maybe 10 hamburgers I will eat all year). Amazing. The red wine. Fantastic. The hot chocolate. Delicious. The desserts. Perfect.

Add to that a great interior, peaceful postcard writing, and fun people watching and I was sold. I kept their card and will be back someday.

It's all about the museum dress. (Thanks, Lindsay!)

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