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travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams


The brilliance of Vincent Van Gogh is palpable in his paintings. Literally: his exuberant brush strokes give his canvasses a rough, passionate texture. This and his often riotous use of color lead many people to believe he was an artist who painted purely on impulse. Yet upon visiting the Van Gogh Museum — one of the foremost reasons I wanted to travel to Amsterdam — I learned Van Gogh was actually quite meticulous, always experimenting on techniques, and that his painting style had actually evolved over periods of time before becoming that for which he is best known.


Wheatfield With Crows
is one of his last paintings, created on the same month he died. Though the wheat stalks are still a vibrant yellow, the sky looks ominous, as do the crows in flight. Shortly before dying of a gunshot wound, believed by most to be self-inflicted, Van Gogh had told his brother, “The sadness will last forever.”

It is incomprehensibly tragic that such brilliant men as Vincent Van Gogh and Robin Williams would live such tortured lives and, in the end, come to be devoured by darkness. I like to think that whatever hell they may have found themselves in, at the end, someone will come to try and rescue them and, failing to convince them to leave the dark valley, will choose to stay there with them till the end of time.

And thus lift the curse.

Brilliance and Darkness” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved, including the right to apologize — that I hereby exercise — for the horrible photograph of the Sunflowers painting.

13 Responses

    1. It’s sad, isn’t it? I wondered if perhaps Van Gogh wouldn’t have killed himself if people had “discovered” him during his lifetime and given his work the appreciation it deserves, but now looking at Robin Williams, probably not.

  1. Hi! How many days did you spend in Netherlands? Im starting to do me research because my husband and I will be going to the Netherlands this coming October. Aside from Amsterdam, what other cities did you visit?

    1. Hi Jasmin! I think we were only there for 4 days. We didn’t get to to go to other Dutch cities. We were planning to go to Zaanse Schans but we didn’t have time anymore. Oh, yeah, we took the train to Zaandam twice, but only to visit the Primark shop to buy pasalubong. 😀

  2. Okay. my planned itinerary would be amsterdam (3 nights); Belgium (2nights) — visit Brugge, then paris (4 nights). I will check out Zaandam and Zaanse Schans. How long is the train ride to Zaandam?

    1. That sounds great. No plans to visit Germany for Oktoberfest? There’s an overnight train from Amsterdam to Munich (though I’m not sure if there’s still one now, as some night trains have been phased out). The train ride from Amsterdam to Zaandam is really quick. It’s only 2-3 stops away. I think…15 minutes? Something like that. By the way, if you’re going to Zaandam, buy the ticket from the machine. If you buy from the counter, they’ll charge you extra.

  3. Thanks for the tip about buying tickets from the machine. I will not be purchasing Eurail pass this time, because in my last 2 Europe trips, I bought eurail passes and its quite expensive and not worth it, not like the Japan Rail pass. No plans for Germany this time, been there 3 years ago and visited a few cities. I will be going back to Paris this time though, since it will be my husband’s first time. Zaanse Schanse looks like an interesting place to visit.

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