To me, Paris and Amsterdam are cities of art and culture. I visited Paris in 2009 and Amsterdam in 2015, and I could spend only one day at each of these places. But, the visits were unforgettable ! My previous travel posts used to target one country at a time. But, I decided to club these two together because I think, art connects these cities.
In Paris, there is the wonderful Louvre Museum which hosts famous paintings like Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’, Rembrandt’s ‘Bathsheba at Her Bath’, and sculptures like ‘Venus De Milo’, ‘Borghese Gladiator’, and ‘Victory of Samothrace’. There is also the amazing Musée d’Orsay museum with a brilliant collection of impressionist masterpieces by the likes of Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Gaugin etc.
Likewise in Amsterdam we see Rembrandt’s House, Van Gogh Museum (with multiple paintings of Sunflowers series), and Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ as well as Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’ in ‘Rijksmuseum’.
Fun fact 1: Rembrandt bought this house in Amsterdam for a huge sum of money and lived here from 1639 to 1658. But, he could not pay off his mortgage and eventually went bankrupt. His possessions were auctioned off.
Fun fact 2: Did you know that the kitchen was the most comfortable room in Rembrandt’s House and that there was a box bed inside the kitchen where the maid slept ?
Fun fact 3: Did you know that Vincent van Gogh was a great writer and his 820 letters (mostly to his brother) still serve a very important role in understanding him as a person ?
Paris is organised into 20 arrondissements or administrative districts. I just had one day and one day is by no means, enough to see a city like Paris. So, I had to literally run from one place to another. But, thanks to the wonderful subway network there, things were much easier. US could definitely take lessons from these cities at least in terms of their public transportation network and frequency. Paris is a tourist’s paradise. Whether its the architectural marvels like Eiffel Tower and Versailles Palace, the breathtaking view of Paris from the highest point : Sacré-Cœur Basilica at Montmarte, Champs-Élysées for shopping running between Place de la Corcorde and Arc de Triomphe in Place Charles de Gaulle , the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral by the Seine River showing the prowess of French Gothic Architecture, or Grande Arche in the business district of Paris La Defense, Paris has something to offer for everybody.
Fun fact 4 : While going to Versailles, I took a double-decker train for the first time 🙂
Paris is also a city of contrasts. On one side, you can see sketch artists just sitting / standing by the roads and busy sketching real life scenes in their own world 🙂 On the other, you can see many homeless people, especially from south asian countries, roaming about the streets near Champs-Élysées and asking for money. Many parts of Paris and outskirts are also not very safe. But, despite all that, Paris is beautiful. There are many more things to see in Paris which I could not cover in this short period. But, there is always next time 🙂
Unlike Paris, my visit to Amsterdam was not planned at all. I was in Hamburg and one evening, suddenly decided to visit Amsterdam with my friend Siddharth. Later that night, we took a late night / very early morning flight to Amsterdam, a vibrant city in the picturesque Netherlands.
Other than visiting the museums and the wonderful works of art mentioned above, Amsterdam is also famous for a few other things 😉 including its legalized prostitution and legendary red-light district, legalized sale of marijuana through coffee shops, vibrant nightlife, systematic canal systems in one of the most watery cities of the world, and of course, cheese and windmills 🙂 A journey through the Anne Frank house is a whirlwind of emotions, and no visit to Amsterdam is complete without this ! History came back to life here..
Fun fact 6: The first Heineken Brewery in the World was built in Amsterdam !
On the whole, it was a great but hectic trip. I would have loved to spend more time here but we had to return back by late night. It was indeed a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to visit again 🙂