zondag, oktober 31, 2004

Amsterdam

We spent yesterday afternoon and evening in Amsterdam. We mainly went to have dinner with Stephan, Lieke, and Lieke's boyfriend Gert Jan, but decided to go early to see a museum and just walk around a bit.

First, though, I finished repairing the bike I've been working on. And let me just say straight out that although I suppose I technically stole the bike, it wasn't really at all like that. Ian rented our apartment 8 months ago. Since then, a bike that has never been moved has been locked to the handrail leading up to our apartment. A month or so before I arrived, the man in the aprtment next to Ian died. We are pretty sure the bike on the handrail belonged to the guy who died. The tires were flat and the bike was rusted and generally a complete eyesore.

In reality, this is a continuation of the post below about me curring the lock to my bike after the key broke in it. Although I didn't mention it then, since I had already rented the bolt cutters it seemed like a sign from God that it was time to liberate this bike. True, we could have lived with the bike at the bottom of our stairs until it was completely rusted and a rain storm swept it away and flushed it down the drain.

Needless to say, I cut the chain, liberated the bike and now it has a new name and a new life. I suppose here is where I should also mention that although I have spent about as much money fixing it up as a new bike would cost, I would be happy to give the bike to its rightful owner if it turns out that the rightful owner is not, indeed, dead. Well, that and the rightful owner has proof that he is the . . . uh . . . rightful owner.

We have quite a few more tools now than we did a week ago. Since the bike had been out in the weather for at least 8 months, it needed quite a bit of repair. I felt a little kinship with my dad, fixing up a rusted piece of metal and turning it into a thing of beauty. Well, maybe not a thing of beauty, but at least something that would get me from one place to another. Although I haven't painted it yet, I doubt I will paint it orange. (It seemed like Dad's favorite projects generally ended up orange, unless Mom was able to catch him in time.) I still don't have an air compressor, I'll probably use pray paint from a can. Horror of horrors.

Ian loves the bike now that it's fixed up. He's christened it "Piglet's Pegasus."


Whatever.

Anyway, we rode our bikes to the station, parked our bikes in the fietsenstalling and took the train to Amsterdam. It's a very short trip - about 20-25 minutes.

Once there, we walked around - to nowhere in particular. Like most tourist cities, you can, in seconds, go from an extremely loud, crowded very alive street to a very quiet, calm and peaceful one with almost no one in sight. We stayed pretty much to the quiet places. After a couple of fresh salmon sandwiches from a street stand, we went for some coffee. I still haven't found someplace that serves a great cup of coffee in Amsterdam. And the bread in the whole of The Netherlands is shameful, given the proximity to France...

After spending several hours walking around and checking out little antique stores, we went to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

It's being renovated, but still had an amazing collection on display. I was astounded by the Rembrandts, and the delftware was also beautiful. After viewing the museum, we strolled through the garden that is beside the museum.


This arbor, found in the garden of the Rijksmuseum, is made of elm trees. I grew up with Elms in the front yard of our house, but I don't believe I ever thought of using elm trees for an arbor. (And I doubt Mom did either, although I wouldn't be surprised to see an elm arbor when I return if she reads this.) The marker that Ian is reading states that elm leaves were fed to cattle to improve the taste of their milk. Who knew? The marker also talked about a disease that had wiped out the elms in The Netherlands, but didn't refer to it as "Dutch Elm Disease."
You learn a thing or two every day in this country.

After seeing the museum, we slowly made our way back to the Central Station. On the way there we stopped in a couple of book stores. In one, we discovered that David Sedaris had given a reading in September and I had missed it! About the time it got dark, we took a bus to a hotel where we met the others for a drink and some appetizers (beet chips - thin slices of beets fried like potato chips).

After about half an hour, we made our way to a restaurant and had some wine, then ordered dinner. We got there around 8:30 and didn't leave until about 12:30. It was a little busy when we arrived, but we were STARVING by the time the food got there. It took so long that even the Europeans at the table were complaining, and that's saying something. The wine we drank helped some, but it probably would have been a little easier for the tables around us to hear themselves talk if we had had some food in our stomachs.


Gert Jan and Lieke.

Stephan

And finally for Karen, a picture of Ian an me where you can see our eyes, even though mine look a little bleary from all the wine...


Sitting behind us throught the evening was a man who was was apparently a very famous third-generation actor (sorry, no picture). I didn't recognize him but everyone else seemd to.

A little after midnight we left the restaurant, took a cab to the station, and found we had missed the train to Utrecht by 2 minutes. We took the next one an hour later, and finally got home at around 2:30. Luckily, we were able to sleep a little later because of turning the clocks back an hour.

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3 Comments:

Blogger cora said...

Thanks for your comment.

I didn't have time yet to read your entire blog, but I will soon. You need a restaurant where they serve "Peeze"coffee. That is the best coffee I have ever had. But what do I know I am just an dutchie. From the view I had on your blog it seems that you have adjusted well in Holland. I wish you to lots of good times. Maybe ttyl. Bye for now.

Cora

8:27 a.m.  
Blogger Scott said...

Peeze coffee? Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I'm not familiar with it. Do you know anywhere in Amsterdam it's served?

10:05 a.m.  
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1:03 p.m.  

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