Before we board ship…

A quick canal tour around Amsterdam

Last September, Kris, my wife, and I took a river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel on the amazing Viking Mani; this was our first ever cruise experience, and I can tell you that Viking will raise the bar for any future vacation plans that you might have.

After arriving a day prior to our boarding date, we checked in early into our hotel, the Victoria, which is just across from the Centraal Station; after our flight from Boston, we were both happy to hop into a shower and get a short nap before exploring the city. First stop was to get some food, which for me means that I wanted to get a Dutch specialty: a beef croquette sandwich (Dutch: kroket).

Next up we decided to take a canal tour, which is the best way to see Amsterdam. I’ll highlight a couple of views from our hour-long boat trip.

The Stopera Building

In the image above, the Stopera is where the Dutch National Opera & Ballet companies have performance space, and where Amsterdam’s city hall is located. The name came from a shortening of the protest slogan against the building’s construction: “Stop the Opera”. The design approval for the building literally took decades, as the original commission started in 1955 and took until 1964 years to finally reject all proposals; a new competition was held in 1967 for a new design, which was won by the Viennese architect Wilhelm Holzbauer.

Unfortunately, budget constraints delayed the project once more. In 1979, a new approach was proposed, which would combine the opera space and city hall into a single complex; a design by Wilhelm Holzbauer and Cees Dam was approved. Under much controversy and protest, construction started in 1982 and was completed in 1986.

Jewish Resistance Monument

At the intersection of the Zwanenburgwal and the Amstel river, stands a powerful reminder of the people who once lived in the neighborhood where the Stopera stands today; Vlooienburg was an island that was built in Amsterdam to add space around 1593. This island was part of Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter, which was established during the Dutch republic, as many Sephardic Jews moved from Portugal and Spain to the more accepting environment in Amsterdam. The black monument commemorates the efforts by the Jewish population in their resistance against the Nazi occupiers during World War II; on the side of the monument is a text of the prophet Jeremiah, which laments:

“Were my eyes fountains of tears then would I weep day and night for the fallen fighters of my beloved people.”

Het IJ

Another key river of Amsterdam is the IJ, which likely is a remnant of the northern arm of the Rhine delta. Nowadays, the IJ has a seafaring shipping connection through the North Sea Canal, which stretches from Amsterdam to Ijmuiden.

From here our canal tour turned back to its mooring point, close to the main train station, and a bit later we’d go here…

The Viking Mani

There she is, our Viking longship, the Mani; named after the Norse Moon God, Mani, who flies through the night sky in his horse-drawn chariot, chased by an evil wolf looking to devour the moon. Our cabin is in view, albeit barely; it is the last visible window near the end on the upper deck. As the restaurant is at the front of the ship, we had a more than 100 m walk each way, getting our exercise, even on board!

Author: jansenphoto

A Fresh Perspective Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment. Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael. My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals. Universal Connections My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation. This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections. Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client. And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!

4 thoughts on “Before we board ship…”

    1. Thank you so much! It was a gorgeous day. Yes, that boat is 135 m (400 ft); we stayed up late to see how the captain would back it out of the mooring spot, which was amazing to watch.

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