Amsterdam Getaway

Forget the Hamptons. Amsterdam is my candidate for the best long weekend getaway for hip and jaded New Yorkers. In just a few hours more than it takes to drive to Montauk on a busy Friday, you can arrive in this splendid little city of canals, art, and wall to wall charm. And given the cost of a summer share in the Hamptons, it’s probably not much more expensive.

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Amsterdam Getaway (cont’d) Museums

You can see those keyhole views for yourself in Amsterdam’s premier temple of art, the Rijksmuseum, the must-see museum for any first-time visitor.

At the moment (and until 2008!), the Rijks (as its is affectionately known) is in the midst of a major renovation, prompted by the discovery that the contractor responsible for an earlier revamping had left most of the asbestos intact. In the interim, the museum is presenting “The Masterpieces” in the compact Philips Wing.

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Amsterdam Getaway, Part 4, Haarlem

We hadn’t intended to stray from Amsterdam but when we heard at our B&B that there was a special Michelangelo exhibit there and that the place was just 20 minutes away by train, we were off.

Haarlem has similarities to Amsterdam, but it hasn’t retained its charm quite as well. Just as well, perhaps, because we had precious little time for strolling.

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Amsterdam Getaway, Part 3, Canals

There must be hundreds of canals in Amsterdam, so the visitor with just a few days can only hope to sample a few of them. I highly recommend what I’ll call the Big Three — Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herrengracht, parallel canals that loop around the city center from the Amstel River (and you thought it was just a brand of beer!) to the lovely Brouwersgracht, not too far from the Central Station. “Gracht,” as you may have guessed, is Dutch for “canal.”
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Amsterdam Getaway, Part 5, Michelangelo in Haarlem

Then it was off to the nearby Teyler’s Museum where a terrific exhibition of drawings by Michelangelo is on display until January 8, 2006.

Many of the drawings on display were studies for the Sistine Chapel ceiling and one of the great inspirations of the show is a multimedia presentation that projects the finished ceiling overhead in a darkened room and shows how the pencil and charcoal studies became part of the finished masterpiece. If you go, don’t miss this brief (ten or 15 minutes) show.

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Boogaard’s B&B, An Amsterdam Find

The first thing you notice about Boogaard’s B&B in Amsterdam are the stairs. Then there are the stairs. Oh yes, and did I mention the stairs? Suffice it to say there are a lot of them, steep and shallow, then narrow and winding.

Now that I’ve given fair warning to those who hate to (or can’t) climb stairs, let me hasten to add that the climb to the top is worth it. I did it with one of the heaviest bags I’ve ever taken on a trip (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and I’m glad I did.
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