19th August 2012 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands via Lille, France and Kortrijk & Antwerp, Belgium)
(This entry will be much longer than usual as I have no longhand notes for this day and this will be my only record. Let’s face it, I got lazy at the end of the trip and never wrote about it. Plus my travel diary ran out of pages and I was already pushing into the ‘addresses’ section, which was at the front of the book.)
Today was the day Boff decided to cram as much into as few hours as possible.
It actually began yesterday when at dinner we saw an ad for LAM, which I think stands for Lille Art Moderne. It was the first we’d heard of it. Apparently there were important works by artists such as Picasso there, and they had a sculpture garden, which I thought would be like the one in Hakone which I loved so much (you should go, it’s fantastic). Boff had already decided we were going to visit Kortrijk and Antwerp on our way to Amsterdam, which we would get to by 8pm, he promised—ha!—but we couldn’t miss LAM either.
So we went to LAM, but we got off at the wrong metro station. We ended up talking to a bus driver who said she would drop us off where we needed to be; half an hour later we ended up at the previous metro station, which would’ve taken all of 4 minutes (and no money because our metro tickets hadn’t expired) to return to. By the time we got to LAM we were behind schedule by an hour.
LAM contained three main sections in addition to the sculpture garden: modern art, contemporary art and art brut. The first two were mainly quite good and we were able to see a lot in a short amount of time due to the clean layout of the gallery. The art brut collection contained works almost half of which looked like something kindergarteners would create, almost half of which you’d find in a tribal craft shop and the remaining 2% absolutely stunning (loved Willem Van Genk and Augustin Lesage). The garden was actually a disappointment. Let’s not talk about it.
We returned to town and picked up our bags from the hotel and hopped straight on a train to Kortrijk, which is where we had to change for Antwerp, which is where we had to change for Amsterdam. The trains from Kortrijk to Antwerp go once an hour so Boff had devised a plan to visit a museum centred on a famous battle and get back within an hour. I declined to go with him, mostly because I hate feeling rushed, and instead took it easy in the waiting area at the station minding the bags. The temperature was an unusually high 35C.
Long story short, Boff was supposed to be at the station, luggage in hand, by 2.45pm but he’d gotten lost on the way back from the museum. We hotfooted it to the platform anyway, only to see the tail end of the train disappear. We’d missed it, so we had to wait another hour for the next train. I wasn’t mad with him, just annoyed that I had to wait in that boring station for another hour and disappointed that he hadn’t kept his promise. He kept insisting that I was actually angry, though, which made me angrier than I was at the initial event.
We eventually made it to Antwerp. I remember The Chocolate Line, where we bought one of almost everything and then had to protect the box from the warm afternoon, its Grote Markt and something about a giant’s hand, and a castle. Photo of the day is a statue mime drawing a portrait of a young girl next to one of the Grote Markt buildings, I forget which.
I was too tired to insist that we catch the 5pm train to Amsterdam as planned. All I wanted was to check into the hotel and go to bed so it didn’t really matter which city we spent more time in, Antwerp or Amsterdam. I was just sad that spending all that time in Antwerp happened so late in the day so we didn’t get a chance to go to its famous zoo.
We ended up getting into Amsterdam at 10pm. Our hotel was a funkatronic venue located in the World Trade Center office building next to Station Zuid. Convenient, but a little too cool for school. At least it had air conditioning.