Sunday, October 26, 2014

Netherlands Adventures!: A Quick Trip to Haarlem

The day after I came home from Leeuwarden, I went to Haarlem.  It sounds like a lot of train time, but this trip was much shorter than the trip to Leeuwarden.  What's a forty minute round trip journey when you've just completed a six hour round-trip journey?

From the station, I walked to the Grote Markt and picked up a map of Haarlem before setting out on my merry way.  After that, I went to visit Sint-Bavoskerk, which can be seem looming in the background in the picture below:

It's a very astonishing building and the inside was even more beautiful:

Holy giant organ, batman.

How would you like to preach in this pulpit?
I found a very sad lion thing.  I had to laugh when I saw him-- it was not the face I expected to see on a lion thing.

After exploring the church all that I could, I walked across town to the Haarlem historical center.  This was actually one of the highlights of my trip to Haarlem.  Lots of incredibly interesting things to look at and (try to) read.

Artist: Kees Verwey.  His description said that he is a "true Haarlemmer" heart and soul.
The Grote Markt and Sint-Bavoskerk "back in the day."  I thought it was cool because I'd just walked there and now I'm seeing it as it was years and years ago.
The guy at the front desk of the history center told me that Haarlem used to be the biggest producer of vinyl in Europe-- vinyl for LPs and records which made me love this city so much more!
This made me feel old.  That's a walkman/discman/portable CD player and a first generation iPod.  These are in a museum now.  I only recently stopped using my walkman (I used it to listen to audio books that I borrowed from the library).  I'm 20 years old and something that I used all the time as a kid is in a museum.  I thought this day was far in the future.

Around this part of the museum, there were record players playing and headphones were plugged in so you could sit in the chair and listen.

What you need to make a record/LP
More headphones-- also I really liked this chair.  Look below.

The chair that I love and would really like to have one day (birthday/Christmas ideas?  Kidding...)

After the history center, I walked down the street a little farther and visited the Frans Hals museum, which is an art museum.  I really liked this place because for most of the museum, there was an overarching theme: emotions.  I like art museums, but usually I don't have a clue what I'm supposed to be focusing on.  I look at a painting and say, "Well that's looks nice," and move on to the next painting to repeat the process.  With the audio tour I had, my attention was drawn to different parts of the paintings I was interested in and my eye was always drawn to the facial expressions and body language of the subjects.  It was nice.

After the Frans Hals museum, I raced across town to go and see Het Dolhuys (there's a lot to see between Frans Hals and Het Dolhuys, but it was getting late (museums usually close around 5) and I didn't want to leave Haarlem without seeing it that day).  This place has quite an interesting history, I think.  The museum is situated outside what used to be the city walls.  This is because this house used to be where those with leprosy were kept (I hesitate to say that they lived there, because I'm not sure how they felt about their experience there).  Later, a mental ward was added and (I believe) thirty people with mental illnesses moved in.  After leprosy wasn't a problem any more, it officially became a mental hospital.  Now, it's the museum of psychiatry.  It's a study of mental illness and how it was handled throughout the ages.  It was also an examination of what "crazy" is and what "normal" is.  I could never be a psychology major, but I thoroughly enjoy learning and reading about the human psyche and mental illness.

Faces flashed on the screen and you're meant to look and think, "Who's normal?" and "Is there something wrong with this person?"  It set the stage for the whole museum.
This was a video playing in one of the old isolation chambers.  The more violent patients were restrained to their beds, like this man.
In this room, names were given and put with the work they did while they were suffering from what was considered to be a mental illness.  Painters, writers, musicians... a spectrum of activities were covered by people who were considered to have mental illness.  These statues/sculptures were rather haunting though.
Some psychologists/psychiatrists believed that you could really study a face and know that something was "wrong" with someone-- you would know if they were mentally unstable or not.  This is not true, however.
There was a special exhibit on prisoner brains as well.  I couldn't understand everything because recordings were in Dutch and there was no translation in my English-speaking visitor packet, since this is a temporary exhibit, but some things I could understand and decipher.  There were videos of prisoners/former prisoners and they all said that they felt different and their lives were different because they'd spent time in prison.  Two of the prisoners had been locked up for 25 years while the third prisoner was locked up for 4 years and had been in trouble all of her life.

You could take a test to see how crazy you really are.
A machine used for electro-shock "therapy."
After I went through the entire museum, I came outside and I met a cat friend.  I have a lot of cat friends in the Netherlands.  Most cats are really friendly here.  A lot of them live outside...

Then I went to sit in the nearby park before going to catch my train back to Leiden.  It was a perfect day to be outside.  I'm incredibly fortunate.

Thus ends my day trip to Haarlem!  I know that I'll have to go back.  There's still a lot to see here.  I picked Haarlem for my city report for European Context.  I'm really glad that I did.  It's a beautiful place and has a very different feel to it than Leiden does.  I don't really know how to explain it.  I really love this city though.

This is a scheduled post.  If you're reading this on the day it is posted, I'm either still in London, in the process of coming back to the Netherlands, or have just arrived at home in Leiden.  It's my first trip outside of the Netherlands and I'm really excited to share my pictures and experiences with you!  But that won't be until next weekend.  So you have that to look forward to, if you're interested in London!

Until next time, Tot Ziens!


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