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The Hague and Alkmaar

Filed in Belgium, Blog, Netherlands by on July 11, 2016
by Barbara P.

Yesterday, we were back at The Hague and right by the government buildings where there were several guards. We visited the former home of several past queens of Holland, which is now used as the Royal Portrait Gallery. I saw several Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Reubens and Steen works in this beautiful old home.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer

Girl with a Pearl Earring by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. The painting has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague since 1902.

Next we saw the Prison Gate Museum, where prisoners were held (and tortured and executed) from 1400–1800. And interesting but creepy place. After that, we went to the M.C. Escher Museum. I told one of the girls in our group that I thought my “museum overload” light had come on, because I can only absorb so much in one day.

Today we took a trip north to Alkmaar, a fairly small town with a cheese market. I sampled some of them and bought a few to bring home. After talking to the man who was selling tulip bulbs, I learned that I cannot bring any bulbs home. He said, “You will have a problem at customs, but I will bring you flowers in jail.” I do think the ones marked “for export” are allowed.

The cheese market at Alkmaar had vendors in traditional dresses and bonnets, and even one who was making wooden shoes

The cheese market at Alkmaar had vendors in traditional dresses and bonnets, and even one who was making wooden shoes.

The museum for today was the Stedelijk in Alkmaar, which had a small Picasso exhibit, in addition to other works.

I have noticed an apartment across from my hotel room that has a flag out, but with a backpack hanging from the pole. I noticed the same thing hanging from other flag poles down the street and in Alkmaar. One of our group members asked someone about the backpacks, and we found out that it is a traditional when school is out. Everyone hangs their empty backpacks with the flags to symbolize freedom. Dutch students only get seven weeks off in the summer, but they do get more vacations throughout the school year than Americans do.

Backpacks on flagpoles signify the end of the school year for Dutch students

Backpacks on flagpoles signify the end of the school year for Dutch students.

About the blogger

Barbara P. is studying abroad on the Exploring the Northern Renaissance: Dutch and Flemish Art program in the Netherlands and Belgium.

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