The first time I visited an art gallery, I think, was when I went to Amsterdam during my registrar days for a conference. To improve our CV we had to do poster and slide presentations of our research projects. So I did 3 such trips during that time. Amsterdam, Nice and Cadiz.
Cadiz, I had company. One of my registrar colleagues also had a presentation. The airport we flew to was Seville. Nick and I didn’t have a clue as to how we were going to get to Cadiz from Seville. Luckily he had just been appointed to a senior registrar post and the professor at his new hospital was on the same flight as us and he gave us a lift. We had no such luck on the way back. We travelled by train to Seville and then got a taxi to the airport. All the train information was in Spanish and none of the people we asked for directions spoke English and we somehow made it to the airport that day. This was over twenty years ago. To the other two cities, I had to travel on my own.
Travelling to Nice on my own was not easy. This was before the days of internet and google. I got the bus from the airport and didn’t have a clue where I was meant to get off. I should have just stayed on the bus till it reached the main bus stop in Nice. Instead I panicked and got off about 2-3 stops before the final stop. The bus driver didn’t speak any English. I roughly knew the direction, but still got lost. I remember going into a cafe and asking the lady for directions to the hotel. Somehow I understood what she was trying to tell me in french and got to my destination.
In Amsterdam, I had no trouble getting to the hotel. The problems started afterwards. In the evening I met one of the ladies who had also come for the conference and we decided to go out for dinner. As we were walking back from the restaurant we took a wrong turn and ended up in a street with hardly any street lights. We knew we were walking in the right direction and so carried on. The streets were dark and eerie with no one in sight. As we walked, we saw some rough looking guys standing outside a busy cafe. I was quaking in my boots as I looked at my companion. She seemed to be the epitome of calmness, which gave me some courage. We walked past houses with lit windows and scantily clad ladies standing by them. Soon we joined the Main Street again and returned to our hotel. The wrong turning had taken us to the red light district part of Amsterdam and the shop that we thought was a cafe was actually one of the coffee shops selling drugs. I asked my new friend, how she managed to stay so calm and she told me that she was not calm at all and was pretty much shaking inside. This is the sort of anaesthetist any surgeon would want in a crisis situation. If she had panicked, I don’t know what I would have done that day.
Anyway I’m digressing. I started talking about art galleries and have ended up here. The reason I brought up Amsterdam was that, you cannot go there and not visit the Rijks and the Van Gogh museums, which is what I did over the next couple of days.
Tomorrow I will tell you why I brought up the art gallery subject.