Just a quick report. I went for 12 days in the middle of November, into Schiphol and out of CDG. 1st time in Amsterdam and Bruges, nth time in Paris.
AMS: Stayed at the Brouwer and loved it - old-world, well-taken care of, and superb central-ish location right on the Singel canal. Had a corner room (Rembrandt)that was actually spacious and had a great view looking toward the Jordaan. It was the most expensive hotel I stayed at - 92 euro. Had to stay one night at Hotel van Onna in the Jordaan. VERY basic: no TV; no shelving, towel rack or shower divider in the bathroom - a long-handled squeegee was propped in the corner to create a dry space post-shower. But the building was modern and clean on the inside, the breakfast was big, and at 50 euro who can really complain. BRUGES: Europ Hotel about a 5 minute walk North of Markt Square. 71 euro, generous room and bath, all amenities, and huge breakfast (you could pretty much equip yourself for lunch). PARIS: Hotel Jeanne D'Arc. What a little gem this place is with it's interior done by various artists. Great location in it's cozy Parisian pocket off Place du Marche Sainte Catherine in the Marais. Pleasant room and bath with intelligent layout and design. Basic French breakfast but a stand-up brew of coffee. Great staff. I asked Stephane what his favorite restaurant in the area was and he lost no time in picking up the phone and getting me a seat at L'Enoteca (in RS book) about 3 blocks away. Easily one of the best meals I've had in Paris. Excellent grand cru Italian reds by the glass.
The Van Gogh Museum is such a great visit. Intelligent, chronological layout - early days on 1st floor to end of career on the 3rd. Enjoyed the exhibits on all his tools, i.e. perspective framebox. Some works I don't think I'd seen repros of before including one of gnarled tree roots that (I think) was supposed to be the last one he did, coming after the Wheat Field with Crows. I'm a sucker for van Gogh. I swear those things are plugged into a wall socket they way they jump out at you. Went to the Rijksmuseum and was glad to be able to appreciate the old masters in real color, shadings and subtleties. AND - in none of these museums was I bothered with people shoving in front to get a digital photo and then moving on without appreciating the work. Wish I could say the same about The Met and MOMA and some of our American museums. Anne Frank Huis ... is just a very compelling, hard-hitting experience. Important and hard to talk about. Had a very nice Dutch meal at Bij ons on Prinsengracht - Stamppot: mashed potato/ vegetable mix with a sausage in the middle.
Loved this seemingly perfectly preserved medieval city. It was mercifully left unscathed from WW1 & WW2. Found the canal tour worthwhile for details - saw a 1752 merchant house for sale. Lotto is tonight, right? Enjoyed the view from the Belfort, esp. with Brendan Gleeson not leaping from the top. Would love to come back here. Bruges beer! The best!
Is now an old friend and always so great to see. New (at least for me) on some Metro lines: Security gates lining the platforms to prevent accidents, intentional or otherwise. Finally went to St. Denis to see the kings - Pippin!! Strolling and Cafe-ing: where's the crime?