Before our recent trip to Cardiff, we noticed a tweet announcing that the National Museum in Cardiff is home to one of the largest collections of Impressionist works in Europe. Cardiff? Really? When we mentioned it to friends, they thought we were kidding. Here in pictures is a small microcosm of our journey through this gem – Impressionism and more!
To learn more about visiting the museum, do visit their website at
Vincent Van Gogh is my most favorite painter. No ifs or buts. While I am absolutely in awe of so many different artists, Van Gogh occupies a very special place in my mind and heart. My first exposure to him was with the “Sunflowers” series of paintings. Was it my favorite color yellow that drew me in? Was it the random positioning of the flowers? Was it the distinctive brushstrokes? Hard to tell, except from that point on looking up his sketches and paintings and reading his letters to his brother Theo became a journey.
And then came my maiden trip to Amsterdam. I could barely curtail my excitement as I landed up at the Van Gogh Museum. My husband knew about my obsession. My father in law probably thought I was a bit crazy to tear up at the sight of a museum. But, it was a truly special moment for me and what came next was simply awesome.
Do you ever get the feeling from reading about someone or someplace that when you walk in there, everything feels like Deja Vu? Well, even though I had never set foot in the museum, I felt like I had already been there….many times.
It is very difficult for me to say what the “ultimate” memory was. To me, it was a gift to be able to see his paintings and drawings up close, to see the brush strokes, to see the vividness of the colors, to experience his madness and his spirit. There are a few paintings that struck an emotional chord more than others.
– The drawing “The Head of a Woman” which was a prelude to his Potato Eaters along with the actual painting were incredibly moving simply because they were his earliest works at authenticity and very much unappreciated.
– His “Self Potrait of An Artist” when seen up close reflects such intensity and pain in his eyes, that it feels like he is right there a century later.
– An absolutely joyous “Sunflowers” which made me feel like the flowers were on a dancing journey in the vase.
– I’m not sure what the “Skull of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette” was meant to convey, but to me it seems like Van Gogh was trying to convey irony, art and some self wit in this work.
– And last but not least, “Wheatfield with Crows”, mentioned to be his last painting. This was the final painting on my journey and it did its job in flashing the life of an unfulfilled genius through my mind bringing me to tears.
Whether or not you are a Van Gogh fan, if you are ever in Amsterdam, do spend some time at this lovely museum. It is a beautiful building and an amazing lesson on life and art. I have been back on every visit and each one opens up one more little known aspect of my most favorite artist on planet earth.
To learn more about the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, click here:
The paupers have traveled through many cities in Europe, but Amsterdam remains a favorite. We have returned to the city several times and the last time, we decided to get a taste of Dutch life by biking through the country side.
We were staying at a lovely hotel along the water (Movenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center) and discovered that we could rent bikes right in the basement through AmsterBike. As we were examining various bikes, we were told that an option we had was to go with a guide on a four-hour ride through the dutch countryside. It required no convincing and a few minutes later, we were following our guide along the waterfront to catch a ferry from where our tour would begin.
The simple act of getting on a bike in a city full of bikers already felt like we were blending in with the locals. The ferry was packed with many other bikers and as soon as we had crossed the river, we were already a world away, biking through small town Amsterdam, passing traditional homes along the water, passing acres of open dutch landscape, entering a small town with a tiny church and a windmill, and returning along modest towns watching kids and adults go about their daily routines.
While we had heard many a recommendation to commute within the city on bikes, cycling through the countryside was a more tranquil experience, one that did make me think a few times of my favorite painter Vincent Van Gogh and how he must have looked at similar countrysides in smaller places when he started painting.
If your travels find you in Amsterdam, please do take the time to rent a bike and experience the city the Dutch way. Whether you take in the city or veer to the countryside, you will cherish the experience all the way.