Last day of the trip and we decide to eschew the buffet breakfast at Cafe Moer and take our suitcases for a short walk up Overtoom to the Toasty Cafe we’d walked past on Monday’s exploration. Pink grapefruit juice, coffee and croissant and we’re off to the tram stop heading for Leidseplein – getting the hang of direction of travel and so on by now. The trams are very frequent and easy to use. You can buy a transport card or just touch in and out with a credit card or phone. They look quite small from outside with just two coaches but have Tardis-like interiors.
As we walked across Museumplein yesterday, we’d spied a locker storage facility in the Q-Park garage and so our first port of call was here to leave our suitcases knowing we could retrieve them later and get a tram back to Centraal Station from the stop opposite the Concertgebouw. This proved very easy and secure and saved us either trekking back to the hotel or going to the station twice. We had two more museums to tick off before checking in for the return Eurostar jouney at three-thirty. I had been to the Moco in Barcelona at Christmas and so was keen to visit the original in Amsterdam. Their mission is to present modern and contemporary artists in elegant surroundings. In Barcelona the museum occupies the fine old Palacio Cervelló not far from the equally impressive Picasso Museum. In Amsterdam they took over the historic Villa Alsberg next to the Van Gogh Museum. They have a significant number of authenticated Banksy originals and prints, some Yayoi Kusama pumpkins, a couple by Warhol, Basquiat and Keith Haring – and a Damien Hirst. There were also many artworks and video installations which were fascinating to explore. Some left me cold and uncomprehending, others I revelled in. That’s art I guess. One area was devoted to NFTs which despite all attempts I still don’t understand. One artist in the NFT exhibit that really appealed to me was Andres Reisinger whose environmental messages video Arcadia is accompanied by narration and an undulating minimalist music track. It has some phenomenal animation in the visuals and the poetry is very affecting. The room had a mirror wall so seeing ourselves and the video images stretching off into infinity reminded me of walking the great length of Hockney’s Normandy frieze at Saltmills in Bradford a while back. You can see Arcadia on Vimeo and Reisinger, composer RAC and poet Arch Hades talk about making it on YouTube.
Moco museum exterior and stairwell, Banksy’s faceless policemen, Kusama pumpkin, Takashi Murakami X Virgil Abloh sculpture and an animated NFT
Time for lunch now and we decided to take it in the elegant cafe at the Stedelijk Museum which was to be our last port of call on our cultural marathon. The museum is in someways I suppose the Tate Modern to Tate Britain comparison with the Rijksmuseum. The permanent collection is divided into three sections: up to 1950, 1950-80 and 1980 to the present. It’s striking modern entrance hall conceals a fine Victorian edifice from 1895. I guess we might be having art fatigue but I found it the least interesting of our visits although there were still quite a few objects that caught my eye.
Stedelijk Museum exterior, Vanishing Point cotton sculpture by Lenore Towney, El Anatsui’s In the World But Don’t Know the World made from bottle tops and found objects which reminded me of the huge Miro tapestry with umbrellas I’d seen in Barcelona at Christmas and Paul Citroen’s Escher-like Metropolis.
We set off to collect our luggage with Fran nobly fetching mine as well, as I’d omitted to take photos of the museums as I’d originally thought I wouldn’t be writing a blog about this trip. But we’ve had such a good time I just thought I had to share. We board a tram at Concertgebouw and soon arrive at the main station – another impressive building.
Check in at Amsterdam was less good than in London as we were all cooped up for an hour in a small enclosure on Platform 15 with few seats and no food facilities other than a vending machine. Every visit we’ve made this trip has been followed, almost instantly, with a request for feedback. I am very bored with this constant search for meaningless comment and generally disregard them but I did fill in Eurostar’s with my thoughts about the check in arrangements in Amsterdam. The journey itself was impeccable, so much so that at one point I said to Fran that we must be nearing Lille and she replied that we were already in England. We parted at St Pancras with the words ‘See you tomorrow’ since the reason for our return was to attend Thursday’s Gala Dinner for the Watford Community Sports & Education Trust to celebrate 30 years. Can it really be five years ago that I wrote a book for them? The evening was a total delight with many current and former players present as well as many friends and colleagues. We were presented with a substantial book containing the annual impact review and thirty stories from Trust supporters. Fran and I were delighted to find ourselves on adjacent pages.
The evening was made even more special when Fran collected an award for being the Trust’s Fundraising Champion. We then stayed partying until far too late but it was a brilliant culmination of a week celebrating all the things we love – art. music, travel, beer and wine, food, friends and football.