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Trip Report My solo trip to Holland - fantastisch!

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I recently returned from first solo trip to Europe. I explored the Netherlands, didn’t get lost, met a Fodorite and a friend from home - and had a great time.

I started in:

S’Hertogenbosch

About a year ago, I read about the Bosch500, a year long festival planned to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the painter Hieronymus Bosch. The centerpiece was an exhibit of his most of his works at the Noordbrabants Museum. As Bosch is one of my very favorite painters, I really wanted to see this! So I made plans, and this was the main reason for my trip.

I flew from PHL to Schiphol and got on a train to den Bosch. The first day I spent wandering around the main square and the town – there are crazy figures from Bosch’s paintings all around town and along the canals. The shopkeepers joined in and many of their windows/stores had a Bosch theme.

St. Jan’s Cathedral

I went inside – this Cathedral is more ornate than most churches in Holland.

Bosch Art Center

I had been here before, and highly recommend this place. There are no original artworks on display, but all of Bosch’s paintings and drawings are represented in high quality, life-sized photographic reproductions. There was also a Bosch and Bruegel themed exhibit of works by other artists.

I did not recall from my last visit the Astronomical Clock here. Part of the clock opens up on the hour, and the 3 Magi come out of a door, bearing their gifts. Another part of the clock opens up to reveal a Last Judgment scene. On the bottom are a row of graves. Heaven is located on the upper left, and a Hellmouth opens on the right. Figures move up out of the graves, and enter into Heaven, or the less fortunate ones go into the Hellmouth. Fascinating!

Bosch Exhibit – Noordbrabants Museum

This was a really great exhibit. I read this exhibit had 17 of his 24 known works – including a recently discovered painting from the Kansas City Museum of Art. (That painting had been kept in storage!) They also had many of his drawings – also including one that was in a private collection and has recently been attributed to Bosch, and not a follower. I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to his drawings before, and they were fascinating.

The exhibit was packed! I noticed before leaving that many dates through until the end of the exhibit have already sold out. It is, understandably, extremely popular.

The Wonderful Climb – the roof of the Cathedral

As part of the Bosch500 festivities, a structure was set up allowing access to the rooftop of the Cathedral, allowing a closer look at the gargoyles and the 96 whimsical figures that perch on many of the flying buttresses. These figures are difficult to see, if not out of sight, from the ground. I had seen pictures and had been fascinated by the figures – some representing occupations and others more whimsical (including dragons, monsters and an eagle). I didn’t realize there were so many! Bosch was said to be influenced by these.

The Tuighuis

This is an archeoglogical and historical museum, and had a small exhibit featuring figures from Bosch’s paintings (a child, a pilgrim and housewife) explaining how they lived during Bosch’s time. (Unfortunately for me, their explanations were in Dutch).

Bossche bol

In a bakery window, I saw an interesting looking pastry and walked inside to enquire what it was. I was told it was a Boscche bol, and is what the city of den Bosch is known for. Picture a large tennis-ball sized pastry, covered in dark chocolate - and filled with whipped cream. I had to try one. Of course, it was good!! (The food in this neck of the woods is very good overall, IMO).

Next stop: Delft (which I visited over the course of the next 4 days, with side trips to other towns in the Netherlands).

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