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This summer I was able to escape from more serious matters for a quick bicycle tour of Amsterdam and it’s surrounding areas. The beautiful art, wonderful culture, and fascinating history enthralled me as the delicate scent of tulips titillated my olfactory senses.

Here, I secure my bicycle in front of the Rijksmuseum, or State Museum, which is the national museum of the Netherlands, located in Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum, housed in its current building (designed by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers) since 1885, contains many paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and a substantial collection of Asian art.

My mouth started to water as I pulled up to the Restaurant Excelsior in Amsterdam. Chef Jean-Jacques Menanteau has never disappointed me with his wonderful French cuisine. I looked forward to dinner on the terrace overlooking the canal and, later, a retreat to my room at the 19th century Hotel de l'Europe.

My next stop was the Van Gogh Museum, also in Amsterdam, which features the works of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. On the eve of December 6, 2002, two of van Gogh’s earliest works, "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" and "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" were stolen from the museum. One year later the international art thief "The Monkey" and his accomplice were arrested for the crime. However, the paintings have never been recovered, and under Dutch law, the thieves may assume legal title to the paintings in 30 years time, provided they are able to prove that they stole the paintings. I am currently working on several possible leads regarding the paintings' whereabouts in order to foil this possible plot.

Next, I rode to Haarlem, located about 20 kilometers from Amsterdam. Haarlem, which is over 750 years old and is known as the City of Flowers, is one of Holland's most beauteous cities. The name Haarlem comes from 'Haarlo-heim', which means village on higher ground.

Sitting here in the gothic St. Bavo’s Church, or the Grote Kerk, in Haarlem I reflected upon the melodious organ crafted by Christian Müller in 1735 and played by the likes of Mozart and Handel while contemplating the graves paving the floor such as that of the painter Frans Hals.

In my last photograph, I sit with a pair of art lovers at the Frans Hals museum in Haarlem studying the artist’s "Regents of the Old Men's Alms House" which he painted in 1664. Frans Hals, born in Antwerp, was the first great artist of the 17th-century Dutch school and is regarded as one of the most brilliant of all portraitists.