Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I finally arrived back in New York yesterday. Though it wasn't the most beautiful of days, the city was shining through my eyes - it's amazing how comforting home can feel when you've been gone for so long. I may have been dazed and exhausted, but walking into my apartment after almost four weeks away was beyond thrilling - I couldn't help but run my fingers along my counter top and look at all of my framed pictures and open my windows and just collapse onto my bed - my own bed!

It took about a 25 minute shower to cleanse myself of so many days in hotel rooms, but I was quickly energized and excited to return to living my life in the city. After dropping off an excessive amount of dry cleaning, I trudged through the rain to the grocery store. It was such a treat to have an empty pantry and refrigerator - a perfect opportunity to refresh my kitchen for the spring!

For dinner last night, I was craving something light, cleansing, and most of all, comforting. I immediately turned to Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food and prepared her braised chicken in tomatoes and onions. I used both breasts and legs, cooking the meat just through so it was juicy and delicious. Paired with a refreshing green salad with a lemon and shallot vinaigrette, I could not have asked for a better meal to bookend so many nights of eating heavy food in restaurants. While we tried our hardest to stay up (okay, I tried, Wright completely gave up), it was an early night to bed. (Followed by a very early morning - love jetlag!)

I'm back in the swing of things today, but still am working on wrapping my mind around such a fantastic trip. Working was both exhausting and energizing, full of standing in high heels but also adventures and fun with friends; my time with Wright was an absolute treasure, a trip I know I'll never forget, full of delicious food, fabulous beers and champagne, stunning scenery and lots of laughter. I'm looking forward to gathering my thoughts and sharing them with you.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I spend the hours of 10am - 7pm inside an extremely large convention center, the "MECC." Though it certainly provides it's fair share of dusty air, lack of sunlight, and artificial lighting, one part of the fair is a welcome respite: the flowers.

Holland takes it's flowers very seriously, particularly it's tulips. And the various displays, both in the booths and around the hallways, are always impressive and beautiful. They almost make you feel like you are getting a little bit of fresh air. Almost.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Maastricht Market

One of the main squares in Maastricht is the "Markt" square, which - shocker - holds a market on Wednesday and Friday mornings. There are a ton of stands, selling all sorts of things, from fresh seafood to flowers, fabrics to spices.

It certainly wasn't the same as the Union Square farmer's market, but it was a lot of fun to wander through and explore. I felt like a real local picking out and trying different dutch cheeses (just like at Murrays!) and taking home a bag of fresh pastries, but my lack of any Dutch language skills and large camera around my neck definitely gave me away. Oh well!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Snapshots of Maastricht

Working at the fair, it is easy to forget what a beautiful little city Maastricht is.

It's located right on the river Maas, with the old city center on one side, and a more modern area on the other (including a university and the lovely "MECC" where the fair is held).

Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands, and actually was part of the Roman Empire. There are still ruins from the walls at that point, and the town retains an old charm with its cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, and lively, European squares.

I was able to wander the city with the morning off on Wednesday, a rare chance to get in there while it is light out! Oh, and by the way, by "city" I mean very tiny town that is easily all walkable by foot. It's kind of like the size of the East Village. With a 300 year old vibe.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Missing home!

Couldn't help but notice this in Amsterdam yesterday. It made me think of, well, home. I smiled.

A Day in Beautiful Amsterdam

We worked two very long days on Sunday and Monday getting the fair set up (almost there!), so a day off yesterday was very welcome. Though I was tempted to sleep in, relax, give myself a manicure, and sit at a cafe in Maastricht drinking wine all afternoon, I resisted and woke up early to catch a train up to Amsterdam. When in Rome, right?

Amsterdam is about a 2 1/2 hour train ride directly from Maastricht, making it a very do-able day trip. I visited on my Tuesday day off last year as well, so I knew that it would be worth it. I definitely nodded off a few times on the train, but once I arrived, I was full of energy and ready to explore the city.

Though the trams are extremely easy to navigate, the line for tickets was kind of long, so I decided I did not need to waste fifteen of my precious minutes in Amsterdam in a line, and hit the city on foot. Not exactly the best plan, since the cobblestones can be quite treacherous and it was hovering at about 30 degrees, but I survived. And Amsterdam is one of those cities that is so beautiful to wander through, you'd miss the best parts if you didn't walk. Or at least that's what I told myself.

I began with the Anne Frank House, since I missed it last year due to time constraints. This is definitely a must-see once in your life - I was very moved by the whole experience. Climbing behind the sliding bookcase jolted you right back to when Anne and her family were hiding in the tiny spaces. My favorite was seeing the magazine pictures of movie stars that Anne had cut out and pasted to the walls of her room. It looked practically identical to the way I decorated my room as a teenager, but with a blocked off window and about 1/8 of the wall space.

I then headed up to the Van Gogh Museum, stopping at one point for a Grolsch at a cafe to rest my legs. Those cobblestones! Anyway, this is a great museum that I also visited last year. There was a Paul Gauguin exhibit that was fantastic - some really great works and a lot of emphasis on his printmaking, of course very interesting to me. I didn't check to see where the exhibit is traveling, but we can all cross our fingers that it will hit New York - I really enjoyed it. Oh, and I walked through the flower park en route - definitely one of my favorite parts of Amsterdam.

After resting my legs in the Vondelpark behind the museum (by the "I amsterdam" sign) (with a cappucino this time) I hit the ground running again and headed to the Rembrandt House, hitting the beautiful Rembrandtplein onthe way. Wow. Wow! Was so blown away! This is generally regarded as a "third day in amsterdam" activity, not one of the top visits, but for a printmaker, this is a number one must see, I can't believe I skipped it last year. Rembrandt bought a large house in the 1650's that is currently the museum. He lived in it for about ten years before going bankrupt and having to sell it - the bankruptcy papers list all of the possessions, which is how they were able to recreate the house for the museum. There were a lot of Rembrandt school (Bol, Dusart, van Ostade, etc.) paintings there, but obviously the big time paintings by Rembrandt himself are at more major museums. What they DO have though, is an almost exhaustive print display (he made about 330 prints), with many of the actual copper plates. I was blown away. Also, seeing his painting and printmaking studios, as well as the areas he used to sell his work in, was really neat. Overall, so much better than I was expecting!

At this point, it was about 4:30 and I was starving, so I found an outdoor cafe (in the sun) near the national monument that had couches for seats. Talk about heaven! I just about collapsed. I had cheese croquettes and a Witte bier, read a few of Salinger's Nine Stories (Esme and Pretty Mouth, if you're interested) and then headed back to central station for a train back to Maastricht. Whew!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Hello from Holland!

I am currently sitting at a small desk in my home-away-from-home hotel room in Maastricht, where I will reside for the next three weeks. As you may or may not know, I work at an art gallery in New York, and each year we participate in an art fair, The European Fine Art Fair, in the Netherlands. Alas, I said goodbye to friends and family this week and am now settling in for a month of working in Europe.

Not to fret, I am still planning on getting some posts up. (Of course, I realize that I've been rather slow lately anyway - preparing to move the gallery to a different continent was a little hectic, to say the least.) I've got a couple days off here and there for travel, and of course, the fair itself is fantastic so there should be some great art to write about. The neat thing about this fair versus some of the others that we do is that it includes more than just an enormous spectrum of fine art - there are also the world's leading dealers in antiques, jewelry, modern design, armor, etc. It's really fantastic and high quality - plenty of things to feast one's eyes on for the three weeks I'm here.

I'll also be taking a week's vacation after the fair, traveling Belgium and the Champagne region of France with Wright. I am, needless to say, looking forward to that part of this trip, but there is a lot of work to be done before then!

Doeg, for now!