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Saturday, May 25: Returning to Boston

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Early Morning departure from the hotel to Schiphol Airport to catch our return flights through Frankfurt on Lufthansa. After the splendors of art, music, chocolate, beer, and other wonders, we returned well sated from the Low Countries!

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Friday, May 24: The Hague and Concertgebouw

View of Dutch Parliament, the Binnenhof

We took the train to The Hague, for a visit of the Gemeente Museum, with its impressive collection of Piet Mondrian paintings, and the temporary installment of the Mauritshuis Royal Art Collection, while the usual building is being restored and expanded. Afterwards, the clouds parted for a visit to the Dutch Parliament in the Binnenhof with its impressive medieval Ridderzaal. Later that evening, some students were able to hear the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Andris Nelsons (the new director of the BSO) perform Richard Wagner’s Flying Dutchman.

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Thursday, May 23: Art and Culture in Amsterdam

Statues of Rembrandt and the Night Watch

The morning and afternoon were dedicated to two spectacular and only recently reopened museums: the Rijksmuseum, with its unsurpassed collection of Dutch Old Masters, and the Van Gogh Museum. That evening, we enjoyed a traditional Indonesian Rijsttafel at Indrapura, recently visited by Celine Dion and the new King of Holland, Willem Alexander. We enjoyed the statue of Rembrandt and the recreation of the Nights Watch in the square outside.

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Wednesday, May 22: Golden Age of Amsterdam

The Amsterdam, a VOC East Indiaman by the Maritime Museum

A visit to the monumental Portuguese Synagogue, the largest Jewish building in the seventeenth century, that also withstood Nazi occupation during World War II. We enjoyed an impressive visit of the Rembrandt House, including a spectacular collection of original drawings and etchings, as well as a demonstration of etching production in the printing room used by Rembrandt. We then walked to the extraordinary Maritime Museum, with a visit of an authentic reproduction of a Dutch East Indiaman, the “Amsterdam.” That afternoon, we enjoyed a tour of the spectacular canals of Amsterdam, ‘the Venice of the North.’

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Tuesday, May 21: Hidden Amsterdam

RoyalPalaceInterior

After acquiring our Museum Passes, we visited the clandestine Catholic Church of ‘Our Lord in the Attic,’ a vivid testimony to the toleration of the Dutch. We then returned to Dam Square for a visit of the impressive Baroque Town Hall, now the Royal Palace. During the afternoon, some visited the Amsterdam City Museum and Beguinage, while others visited the Anne Frank House.

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Monday, May 20: Delft and Amsterdam

The Tomb of William the Silent in the Old Church of Delft

We left Flanders and Belgium for Holland, with a visit in the town of Delft, famous for its pottery and tiles, and for the painter Jan Vermeer, and we visited the Vermeer Centrum while there. We also viewed the New and Old Church, with its tombs of William the Silent, the House of Orange, and Hugo Grotius. We arrived in the early evening in Amsterdam to our Hampshire Hotel Lancaster, located near the Zoo and had time for an orientation walk to the Dam Square.

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Sunday, May 19: Glories of Antwerp

RubensStudio

A beautiful day starting with a visit to the grand home, studio, and garden of Peter Paul Rubens, followed by a visit to the impressive Plantijn-Moretus House and Museum of the famous printers, another UNESCO world Heritage site. The day culminated with a visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady with its sublime series of grand paintings by Rubens, especially, the Deposition and the Raising of the Cross.

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Saturday, May 18: Ghent and Antwerp

View of Medieval Towers of Ghent

An early departure gave us ample time to explore the bustling university city of Ghent, with its medieval Guild Houses, and impressive Castle of the Counts of Flanders, as well as the medieval Meat Hall and Baroque Fish Hall. The day culminated in a viewing of the Cathedral of St. Baaf, include the masterpiece of Jan van Eyck, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Another short ride brought us to Antwerp, where we visited the brand new MAS Museum, affording spectacular views over the city and its port and we arrived at our Hotel on the Schelde River, the Antigone. That evening, a circuitous route in the old town, past the Renaissance Town Hall, brought us to the atmospheric hostelry called ‘De Pelgrom’ for a traditional meal under arched vaults and candle light.

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Friday, May 17: Art and Culture in Bruges

View of Belfry over the canals at the Rozenhoedkaai

Another day in this amazing medieval city began with a visit to the impressive Groeninge Museum, enabling a close viewing of the Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele, by Jan van Eyck. It is so detailed that one can even see the reflection of Jan van Eyck in the armor of Saint George. We strolled to the serene Beguinage, and then returned to a new multi-sensory visit at the ‘Historium’ recreating Bruges in 1435, and then climbed all the steps to the top of the Belfry.

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Thursday, May 16: Medieval Grandeur of Bruges

Memling Altarpiece in the Hospital of St. John

We started the day with a visit to the Church of Our Lady with Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna and Child, as well as the grandiose tomb of Charles the Bold, the last heir of the House of Burgundy. Then we visited the impressive St. John’s Hospital, now housing the Memling Museum, as well as a remarkably preserved Eighteenth Century Apothecary. A tour of the atmospheric canals was followed by a visit to the Town Hall as well as the Basilica of the Holy Blood. That night, a group dinner on the Market Square.

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