Just down the canal street was the Willet-Holthuysen Museum, a double-fronted town house that was built in 1867, towards the end of Amsterdam’s Golden Age. The family of Willet-Holthuysen lived here from 1861 to 1895; the home gives an idea of the lifestyle at the time. http://www.willetholthuysen.nl/
On the Keizergracht Canal can be seen the Museum Van Loon, a magnificent private residence built in 1672 by the architect Adriaen Dortsman. It is the traditional Dutch canal house with the garden and the coach house behind. The Van Loon family were active merchants, one of the founders of the Dutch Far East Company – V.O.C. http://www.museumvanloon.nl/home
First stop was to take the tram down to my Grandfather Jacob van Gerve’s buildings he built in the 1930s, finding them located between 2 canals. Two blocks of brick apartment buildings on either side, with some of the buildings’ fronts being refurbished. It turns out that my Grandfather’s buildings are considered historic buildings so that they follow protocols per historic preservation regulations. It was gratifying to see that, not only were the buildings there, but were being refurbished to have a new life, and were considered historical landmarks. He was a Commercial Real Estate Developer in the Netherlands, building a Wild Waves-type Water park, office buildings, and apartment buildings.
Arriving at the Hotel on the Singel Canal early in the morning in Amsterdam, I would be out exploring the City of Amsterdam while my room was being readied. I wound up being given a room on the top floor with an attic ceiling in the tallest gable of the roof!
In 1999, the Chateau of Versailles sustained enormous damage from a large storm, losing 10,000 trees. They subsequently had a fundraising effort in 2000 to raise money to replant the gardens and repair the buildings. I bought a tree through this fundraising effort and was glad to contribute to the rebuilding of Versailles.
This year, I was in town for the King’s Day Celebration; it is quite festive and very intense! The newly renovated van Gogh Museum was fantastic; the different types of styles that van Gogh used to painted in and with was amazing. A short walk to the flower market on the Singel Canal to see the variety of flowers; it used to be fresh flowers but now is pretty much all flower bulbs. The Dylan Hotel is located on the Keizersgracht Canal in Central Amsterdam and is very picturesque.
Home of Rietje van Brakel, my great aunt, and her husband, Jan van Goor, built by his father. I was able to meet and get to know the nice family that bought the House from my Great Uncle, Jan van Goor. When I was a girl living in Paris, we spent many good times in the House with family. My Father was assistant Air Attache at the American Embassy in Paris; I attended the Lycee de L’OTAN for the children of the NATO Generals and Embassy Officials. Later, when living in Brussels, we visited back and forth between The Hague and Brussels. This trip, I stayed in the town of Kijkduin on the beach of the North Sea in the hotel where my parents and I stayed in the 1970s and 1980s.
One day was spent at Kinderdijk, seeing the beautiful windmills while walking the length of the canals.
Twenty-three kilometers east of Rotterdam on the River Noord is the village of Kinderdijk (translated – the “children’s dyke”). Kinderdijk took its name from a local legend of a cradle being stranded nearby during the St. Elizabeth’s Day flood of 1421. These days it is one of the most-visited, and photographed, area in the Netherlands due to the nineteen 18th century windmills (build between 1722-1761), designed as water pumps, that still dot the landscape. They are all designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the country). The windmills are celebrated during “Mill Days” when the sails are set in motion.
One day was spent at Keukenhof, seeing all the beautiful flowers while enjoying the beautiful gardens. First visit was in 1961, when we spent time at Keukenhof as a young girl, and continued the visits over the years.
My ancestor, Jan van Brakel, is buried in St. Laurenskerk Church with one entire wall dedicated to him; he has a large monument where he is buried in the back of it. There are approximately 17 Admirals from the 17th Century who are buried in the St. Lawrence Church. They helped win Anglo-Dutch Wars and are considered Heroes in Dutch History. There is an entire wall dedicated to each Admiral.
This impressive gothic church was completed in 1646, but was destroyed due to the bombing during World War II. It is all now that is left of Rotterdam’s medieval buildings as the rest were also destroyed during the War, but not restored. Luckily, the church has been restored, including all the gothic tracery at the east end. Although the church is gothic throughout, the interior is paneled in some areas, which softens the otherwise harsh interior. In addition, the colored glass in the windows makes the interior seem bright and welcoming. What can be found inside? Tombs of 17th century admirals, three Danish organs (the largest of which stands on a marble base), bronze doors created by Giacomo Manzu on the theme of War and Peace, and a statue of Erasmus, Rotterdam’s most famous son. Guided tours and special tower visits are available if you are thinking of a visit (which I highly recommend)!