Dutch Masters

An early breakfast because we have exciting plans this morning. At 8.15am we are boarding coaches for a short drive to Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum. Being a Sunday morning, there is little traffic, but we do need to keep a look out for bicycles and scooters – they drive along marked sections of the pavements on some roads, and they don’t hang about!

At the Hermitage we have been granted exclusive early access, before the public opening, and this proves to be a true bonus! We are visiting the special exhibition of “Dutch Masters”, a collection of no fewer than 63 works by 50 different artists, brought to Amsterdam from the Hermitage in St Petersburg. This is the first time the collection has been shown in Amsterdam and it is a limited time exhibition, so we are very lucky to have timed it perfectly. Museum guides give us an introduction, and we’re then let free to enjoy the collection. We are the only ones in the museum, and we are able to get close to all the paintings and really appreciate them. Whether you are an art connoisseur or not, the collection by Rembrandt are simply amazing.

The museum staff mention that when the doors open to the public, it will be 20 deep jostling for a view of each painting. We’ve been able to stand in front of each painting …. alone. A truly memorable experience.

After our Hermitage Museum visit, there is a choice of a guided walk back to the ship, or a canal boat trip. Some energetic clients take the walk, while most of us join two canal boats to sail via the narrow waterways back to base. Once again, the River Queen team are there to greet us back on board.

Richard and Dawn host a pre-lunch get-together in the lounge. Canapes and wine or bubbly, and a few words of welcome from the Furlongs Management! All timed to coincide with our departure from Amsterdam as we set sail towards our next destination, Cologne.

We meet again in the lounge pre-dinner, for the Captain’s welcome reception, an introduction to the heads of department, and a short briefing about tomorrow’s itinerary, by our cruise director, Tabea. Yet another glass of bubbly or something else from the bar, and then to our 4-course dinner … with yet more wine. We really are going to need to pace ourselves.