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QUINTESSENCE

Amadeus, The Holy Roman Empire and Van Gogh

I'm on board the Austrian registered Amadeus Princess, a river cruise vessel on route from Amsterdam down the Little Rhine to Germany and the journey down the main Rhine to where we disembark in Switzerland. This journey has been one of exploration of time through art museums, organizations such as The Hague, and tomorrow the Cathedral at Cologne, and the foods and peoples of the Netherlands as we head into the fractured history of what was once The Holy Roman Empire, and in various incarnations, a fractured alliance of city states, countries at war, and cultures in religious and economic competition. The lectures on board have been fascinating, and ground this journey in history - our local Netherlands guides are interesting art historians who make the works of Flemish painters and famous collections at museums like the Kruller-Mueller, which we visit in our explorations off the boat, a dialogue with the symbolism and meanings of centuries of art and storytelling. In a few moments, we will cross into Germany and make our way tonight down toward Cologne.

My comrades on board are interesting in themselves. Experienced travelers with interesting occupations and an original and engaging take on the world, this journey is already memorable. I'll try and post again before Switzerland, but know that today's most memorable image for me was a Vincent Van Gogh painting, "Road With Cypress and Stars"....a view of the dark shadows of night and a moon and star in haunting harmony with a still field, blanketed in shadows. Look up the picture at the gallery of images online for Van Gogh. Walk with me and see the world through his eyes.
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