As I was typing that title, I realized it sounded like the name of a still-life oil painting… which I saw plenty of last week while my parents were here during monsoon/museum season.
The first few days of their visit were characterized by almost nonstop pouring. On Sunday we checked the radar and thought we had the all-clear to do a walk around Delft. Twenty minutes later we were ducking into a Delftware shop as the skies opened. (Forty minutes later we were drying off in a pub, which wasn’t so bad, really.)
The middle days of the week featured dramatic clouds but much less rainfall, and we survived day-trips to Gouda and Amsterdam without getting too wet.
To get our dosage of Dutch masters, we visited the Mauritshuis and (what’s open of) the Rijksmuseum. Of the six Vermeers you can see between the two, my favorites are at the Mauritshuis: Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft. The Rijksmuseum surprised me with a cool temporary exhibit comparing self-portraits by Degas and Rembrandt (I was more than happy to see something done later than 1650 by this point; hello, Degas.) and an elaborate seventeenth-century doll’s house that cost the owner as much as a real canal house in Amsterdam.
Much of the Rijksmuseum is closed for renovation right now, and they have the “best of” piled into one wing. It was a bit crowded, and at €12,50 I’m not sure the price is reduced from when you can see the whole thing. However, until 2013 or so, this is what’s on.
On Monday, when many things are closed, we took the chance on the Delft canal boat tour, which runs in the rain with a glass roof on the boat. If you have the option, skip this in the rain and do it in the sunshine. The highlight would be the photos you take along the way, and in the rain those are more or less nil, since the glass roof fogs. I’d never done this tour before and can’t say if our experience was typical, but our guide was a bit haphazard (though he shared some pieces of information that were new to me, even living here), and also not a good driver of the boat. We careened off the sides of the canal several times, hard (which ruined my dad’s nap). A humorous feature was listening each spiel in Dutch (rather long), English (long), German (short), and French (a few words).
Although I tried all week to reassure my parents that this weather was unusually poor, it is a fact that if you come to the Netherlands, you could very well get a week precisely like the one we just had. Museums and churches are always an option; pubs are definitely an option; eating is an option (we had a delicious meal in Delft at Rossio) seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is an excellent option. The unfortunate fact is that amusing yourself on vacation with indoor activities costs more than wandering outdoors for free, and in my opinion, wandering the streets is one of the best activities you can pursue here.
There’s no reason to let rain ruin a good time, though. As I wrote this post I remembered watching a terrific thunderstorm from a hotel balcony in Bermuda, and playing a long game of Scrabble in a French cafe—two standout vacation memories both conceived by “bad” weather. You pack your umbrella, grab a raincoat, and trudge on.