The bags are packed, the boarding passes are printed (I still don’t trust those QR dots on my phone) and we’re ready to leave Amsterdam to fly back to family and friends Australia.
There are still a couple of hours left in a late summer’s day, in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. How to spend them? One last bike ride of course – first through the Vondelpark, happy to cruise slowly behind the pairs of tourists wobbling on their matching rented bikes.
Then over to the Rijksmuseum, where I’m still excited by the cycle path passing through its belly. A mounted policeman clip-clops his horse through the tunnel ahead of me, a living statue works on her makeup and a busker plays Stairway to Heaven. All’s well with the world.
I lock my bike to the rack with a chain that could moor a battleship, go straight to the door that says ‘Visitors with Ticket’ and flash my Museumkaart. That magic piece of plastic (EUR59.90 for annual membership) not only gives me visiting rights to most Dutch museums, it makes me feel that I own the Rijksmuseum and the riches it contains.
I don’t need to see the Nightwatch this time, and I barely pause as I walk past the Vermeers. I want to say goodbye to two wonderful paintings before I leave Amsterdam and so do they.
This year, the Netherlands and France jointly bought the wedding portraits of Marten and Oopjen. I’d never heard of them until this year, but I predict they will before long be among the most famous paintings in the world. The full length portraits by a young Rembrandt (by my calculations he was 28 when he painted them) were acquired from the Rothschilds after nearly 400 years in private hands.
They will hang side by side, alternately housed in the Rijksmuseum (till October 2016) and the Louvre in Paris.
Since Marten and Oopjen arrived in Amsterdam in July I’ve made three trips into the Rijksmuseum to see them and I’m sure I’ll be back again, each time they return from their holidays in France.
The good news is that this year Nederland saw fit to issue me with a ‘Verblijfstitel’ card. It’s Dutch residence permit. I own a piece of the Rijksmuseum and I own a Dutch bike. I feel I belong here. Marten and Oopjen are my friends. See you soon!