My Travels On "Rhineland Discovery": A Lovely Last Day in Amsterdam

Before starting her Rhine river cruise, blogger Judy Freedman shares her day in Amsterdam, visiting the Van Gogh Museum and taking a walking tour of the city.

Menopause & Aging Well

It was hard to believe that almost a week had passed on our pre-trip on "Rhineland Discovery" (courtesy of Viking River Cruises). We had enjoyed our time in Bruges, our stop in Ghent and our stay in Amsterdam.* Soon we would board the ship for our weeklong river cruise on the Rhine.

"We have a few hours before we have to check out of the hotel," I said to my boyfriend L. "I'm going to squeeze in another museum. Then we can grab lunch at De Bakkerswinkel cafe before we leave." L packed while I spent the morning navigating my way to the museum area where the "I amsterdam" sculpture stands tall.

The "I am Amsterdam" sculpture welcomes visitors to the Dutch capital.

There are so many fabulous sights and attractions to see in Amsterdam, and I had 120 minutes to spare. I deliberated. Do I visit, as the Viking brochure says, "the remarkable light-infused building that venerates the short and productive career of tortured 19th-century artist Vincent Van Gogh?" Or do I go see the "lush paintings of Rembrandt and other Dutch masters that adorn the Rijksmuseum?"

The Rijksmuseum houses the paintings of the Dutch masters.

A Visit to the Van Gogh Museum
I chose Van Gogh Museum and am so glad I did. I purchased my ticket in advance so I didn't have to wait on line. (Note: I highly recommend you visit this museum when in Amsterdam and definitely buy your ticket online or in advance.)

The Van Gogh Museum is the largest collection of the painter's artwork.

A visit to the museum is like taking a journey with Van Gogh. The collection is the largest overview of Van Gogh's life and work, including 200 paintings, more than 500 drawings and his letters. It was amazing to think that he created hundreds of paintings and drawings in just a decade from 1880 to 1890. Sadly, he suffered mental illness and shot himself while painting and died, cutting short his brilliant career. It was his sister-in-law who recognized his talent after he died and helped share his magnificent artwork with the world.

I stopped on each floor, viewing each phase of his paintings. From his first days in Antwerp to his move to Paris where he painted his famous Sunflowers, to his stay in the countryside of Provence where he drew strength from nature with paintings filled with vibrant colors, fields of green, and flowers such as daisies, poppies and carnations. I even stopped to admire his Japanese-inspired art, which put me in a very Zen mood. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, it would have been so great to do yoga among the Van Gogh artwork. Maybe I'll email the curators and see if this can be arranged for my next visit! Oui, oui, oui!)

The Van Gogh museum was a highlight of my visit to Amsterdam.

According to the museum description, Van Gogh "wanted his paintings to afford comfort to himself and others." I wish I could have told him: They did, they did, Vincent. And I wish I could have lingered longer to read every letter. I promise, Vincent, I'll return again someday soon. I will. I will.

Before leaving Amsterdam, L and I enjoyed lunch at De Bakkerswinkel, a local cafe.

Boarding the Viking EIR
That afternoon we boarded the bus to take us to our Viking longship, the EIR, named for the Goddess of Healing. L and I were excited to embark and meet the Viking crew and fellow passengers who would be sailing with us along the next part of our journey.

Before settling in, there was a guided walking tour of Amsterdam. Moi, of course, participated while L relaxed. I had a chance to see the train station, the ooh-la-la red light district, a potent coffee shop and narrow homes along the canals. I closed out my last day in Amsterdam with 13,600 steps on my Fitbit.

Our bonus tour of Amsterdam highlighted hot spots in the city.

We boarded the Viking EIR in Amsterdam.

"Welcome to Viking EIR," said our program director, Daniel, during our evening briefing. "There are 182 guests in total on the ship from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Britain, with the most (131) from the United States."

He introduced us to Chris, the hotel manager, who reminded us to take our Viking name cards whenever we left the ship. He told us about Zara, our concierge, and the reception desk serving us 24 hours a day. We met chef Rodal, from the Philippines, who, with his galley staff, prepared our meals each day.

"We're going to enrich you with culture and jaw-dropping scenery," promised Daniel. "We hope we can create some memories you can't forget."

Our welcome dinner featured shrimp cocktail, mahi mahi and vanilla ice cream sundae.

L and I unpacked for a comfortable stay on the EIR. We were ready to set sail and discover all the Rhine had to offer. With a daily newsletter featuring details for the next day delivered to our room each evening, I was like a kid in a candy store.

From the windmills in Kinderdijk to the cathedrals of Cologne, from the Marksburg Castle in the German countryside to Rudesheim's cobblestone streets and renowned Rieslings, to Heidelberg and then on to the Alsace region of France and the best Black Forest Cake, ever, ever—there was so much to experience and so much more I can't wait to share with you.

Our river cruise on the Rhine included stops in Germany's Black Forest; the Alsace region; Cologne, Germany; and a food and city tour of Strasbourg, France.

See you next on the Rhine.

P.S. In case you missed my first recaps you can find them at:
My Travels on "Rhineland Discovery" – A Delight for the Senses
My Travels on "Rhineland Discovery" – First Stop Beautiful Bruges
My Travels on "Rhineland Discovery" – Adventures In Amsterdam

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Rhine. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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