I have written many times before about travelling to Amsterdam, a city that I have visited over 30 times. The reason for all of my trips has been to teach a 3-day professional level course on analytical method validation, a topic of importance to any analytical laboratory at a pharmaceutical company. I have been teaching this course, alongside a colleague from another company, for almost 25 years and have made trips there every year since 1998—at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit early in 2020. I have not been back since and this year marks the third year in a row I have missed that trip.
When we first started teaching the course, due to its popularity, we actually taught in Amsterdam (or occasionally Rotterdam when hotels were booked up in Amsterdam) twice a year for the first eight years. After that, we began to teach our second European course in Dublin, Ireland to accommodate the many pharmaceutical companies there. This is how, I ended up travelling to Amsterdam over 30 times in less than 25 years.
Recently, my granddaughter unknowingly found and set out on the wall unit in our great room a miniature model that served as a reminder that I had missed going, something that had not been on display in our home in quite some time.
Ever since the first time I traveled to Amsterdam and walked along the inner-city canals, I have always been fascinated by the age and architecture of the canal houses. Many of these homes were built over 300 years ago, older than our country. In some, you can even see a bit of a lean to one side or the other, but they are still standing.
So, on one of the first trips there when I came across these little miniature houses in one of the many gift shops, the modeler in me just could not pass them up.
I was so pleased with them that I decided I would buy a different one each time I visited Amsterdam as a memento of my trip. This then became my first excursion out into the city upon my arrival, to go to the same gift shop to select my next house. It was one of the regular things I looked forward to on each trip.
In just my first three visits, I had accumulated three of these little gems (at least gems to me).
In three more trips, I had another set of three.
And then on my seventh trip, I added one more giving me a total of seven. I even started buying them and giving them as birthday gifts to my two sisters. I was pleased on a recent visit to my sister’s home to see that she still had them displayed.
My daughter, knowing that I was collecting these houses, brought me this one back from Paris the year she traveled to Europe for a summer study.
On the rare occasion when I was fortunate enough to fly Business class on KLM, I began to collect some of their Blue Delft homes filled with BOLS liqueur. Ironically, these three have sat on my work desk at home ever since I retired in 2017 but have not prompted the same reaction I had recently to this first one I had collected so many years ago. I guess seeing these on the desk all the time, it just did not stick out in my consciousness.
After discovering where my granddaughter found the first house and seeing where the others were stored, I began to wonder why I only had seven miniatures.
Admittedly, these are not high-quality models and as I recall, were not even very expensive. Then on one of my trips, I went into a more expensive gift shop. There I found much higher quality models.
Walking in, I immediately recognized the one modeled after the Anne Frank house. I thought what better souvenir than a miniature of where she and family hid during the German occupation of Holland and I had visited on one of my previous trips. Over the years, as you can see, it has not fared very well having been dropped several times. But it still sits on my side of the vanity in our bathroom at home.
But there my collection ends. It could have been I sensed from my wife that she felt we had enough little homes on display. Or it could have been that after so many trips, just the photos I took over the course of my visit was enough of a reminder of my trip. To validate this second reason, we have this grouping of photos at our midtown condo…
…this grouping of tulip photos from one of our visits to Keukenhof (the large garden west of Amsterdam)…
…and this nighttime canal shot hanging in our bathroom.
So, knowing subconsciously that I really wanted to go back to Amsterdam, the reappearance of this first little house just brought those feelings to the forefront.
Having taught remotely online for the last three years with not a single in-person course here in the US, I have started to wonder if I will ever teach in Amsterdam again. But I know even if I don’t, I plan to travel again to Amsterdam one day. And when I do, I know one of my first excursions will be to find another house to bring my collection to eight homes.
Since I know my wife will not likely be receptive to displaying all of these again in our great room at home, maybe this collection can replace the three KLM homes currently on my desk, giving me while I work on my computer, a miniature view of houses along a canal in the city I love to visit!