Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Don’t know much about art …

20 Dec Louvre, Paris, France, art, accessible

… but I have visited a few incredible museums!

Here’s a short list:

In the Netherlands:

In Italy:

In Egypt:

  • Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (Cairo)
  • Valley of the Kings (Luxor)

And, of course, in California:

In Paris, I have visited l’Orangerie and Musee d’Orsay (my personal favorite!)

But perhaps the largest and most famous museum I have visited is the Louvre.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France, art, accessible

The Louvre, as seen from Tuileries Gardens

My first visit was in April of 2002. It was almost overwhelming. (I initially attempted to follow Rick Steves’ self-guided tour, but quickly realized that renting the audio tour was money well-spent.)

More recently, I visited the Louvre in April of 2009, accompanied by my sweetheart, his daughter Carrieanna, and his college friend, George.

Because Carrieanna was in a wheelchair, and I was her assistant, we were able to avoid the ticket line and enter immediately. (The guys were not so fortunate; they stood in line for 20 minutes. However, they were enjoying each other’s company and didn’t mind that Carrieanna and I were ready to start exploring. We would reconnect with them later.)

Quoting Wikipedia (to give you a little idea of the size of museum):

The Louvre—is one of the world’s largest museums, and a historic monument. … Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection,

As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

For the most part, the Louvre is very accessible. As noted on the website:

In keeping with France‘s 2005 disability law, the Louvre aims to ensure all visitors can access the museum safely and comfortably. Special attention is given to ensuring quality help and care are available throughout the museum.

Some areas were very crowded.

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Crowded hall in the Louvre

Carrieanna had to be very aggressive in order to get close enough to see the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris, France, art, accessible

Carrieanna views the Mona Lisa

(I later learned that had she asked for assistance, we would have been escorted around the crowd and allowed easy access.)

Other areas were very easy to navigate

Louvre, Paris, France, art, accessible

Exhibit hallway without crowds, Louvre, Paris

Although there are often stairs between wings, there are also lifts and attendants – often quite handsome! – to allow access to wheelchair users.

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

The lift attendants were very helpful.

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Motorized lifts made most wings accessible

Obviously, there are too many treasures to share in this blog. It would probably take a week – or more – to view every painting, sculpture and artifact housed in the Louvre.

If you love art, I’m sure the Louvre is on your bucket list. If not, here are just a few photos to inspire you ….

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Carrieanna enjoyed the Egyptian Antiquities

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Beautiful ceiling in the Louvre Palace

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Beautiful 18th century panels, Louvre

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible, Egyptian, Roman

Up-close view of the sculptures; Louvre

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

One of the many courtyards; Louvre

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible, Jean Michelin, Adoration of the Shepherds

Adoration of the Shepherds (Jean Michelin); Louvre

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It’s Sinterklaas!

18 Nov

Boat parade; Sinterklaas; Amsterdam, NL

On a Sunday in the middle of November, St. Nicholas, known as Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, arrives in Amsterdam.

In 2008 (November 16th), I was there to witness this colorful event! As my sweetheart and I were walking to Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam’s amazing botanical garden) …

“We noticed children dressed up in caps of satin, with blackened faces; …”

Waiting for Sinterklaas. Amsterdam, NL

“Today is the day Sinterklaas arrives in town along the Amstel River. We hear the boats’ horns and the crowd’s cheers as he appears!”

 

Boats on the canal in Sinterklaas parade; Amsterdam, NL

Thus begins “Sinterklaas Season” when Sinterklaas and his helpers travel around the country, visiting hospitals, schools, shops, restaurants, and even homes during the three weeks before the main Sinterklaas celebration. Sint and his Piets seem to be everywhere at once, asking about children’s behavior and listening through chimneys. The children leave their shoes out with carrots and hay for the horse. In exchange the Piets put candy or a small gift in the shoes to be found in the morning.

(Text in italics is from St. Nicholas Center website.)

Arrival of Sinterklaas; Amsterdam, NL(Children throwing candy to the boats)

Although we did not actually witness the arrival of  Sinterklaas [we had entered the botanical gardens by the time he arrived], we enjoyed seeing the nautical celebrants!

Arrival of Sinterklaas; Amsterdam, NL

 

Happy beginning of the Holidays!

Rolling through Amsterdam

25 May

(The following post was written in May of 2007, although some of the photos are more recent.)

Just back from eight days in Amsterdam with my 25-year old friend, who gets about primarily in a wheelchair . . . and with her dad, my boyfriend.

Three essentials:

1)      Understand beforehand that Amsterdam is expensive . . . and worth it.

2)      Plan and communicate with your hosts by email and telephone; let them know your needs, desires, limitations and capabilities.  Planning includes reading Rick Steves’ “Easy Access Europe.”

3)      Steps are everywhere and will limit access.  If you can manage any steps at all, you will increase your access.

If you have not been to Amsterdam, you may not understand what a “world treasure” this gem of a city on canals truly is.

The gem has many facets: canals, 17th Century engineering and architecture, Van Gogh, Anne Frank House, Rembrandt, coffee shops and cafes, canal boats, diamonds, parks; light and water, reflections and shadows, great art and architecture.

Be sure to bring your camera and extra batteries!

After experimenting, we quickly learned that the best place for the wheelchair was either in the bike lane or on a wide sidewalk.

Understand that the bike lanes in Amsterdam are very special.  The bikers know where they are going and the rules of the road, one of which is: no pedestrians in the bike lane, or suffer the consequences.

Not once did we hear objection to a wheelchair in either a bike lane or a very narrow streets shared by all sorts of vehicles.

Carrieanna used a foldable, manual wheelchair.  It was easy to fold and store.  We arranged to rent it through our hotel.

Early on she purchased a bicycle bell at Waterlooplein street market and attached it to her rental chair.  You might be surprised at the number of people who are oblivious to their surroundings; people who cannot see either wheelchairs or their users.  A bicycle bell helps these people orient.

Remember that preserving the old sometimes limits the new.

Elevators are found in larger, more modern hotels, and in the major museums; lifts are available at Rembrandt Huis and at Concertgebouw.  Check “Easy Access Europe and the Internet for information about wheelchair accessible toilets; there are some spread around town, although not many.

One Must Do If At All Possible: canal boats. There are many options; we chose Canal Bus, which allows you to ride all day and half the next day, and to get off or on at many different spots around the city.

Each boat will require you to negotiate four steps into the boat and usually a couple of steps at every dock.  Carrieanna had focused four full months of physical therapy on dealing with steps and with uneven surfaces; she did very well with all that we encountered in Amsterdam.

The trip was Carrieanna’s graduation present for earning her bachelor’s degree from California State University – Monterey Bay, after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  She says, “Don’t say it cannot be done until you have tried.”  So, go for Amsterdam, wheels … or not!

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