Sunday, November 4, 2007

On the road again...

Tomorrow we leave our little Amsterdam hideaway and head to Brussels where we will be joined by some of our friends who were a part of the Hell Yes! Ireland adventure we had two summers ago. They're already en route to Europe, I can't wait to see them. Though CF and I have actually learned a lot about communicating well when it's just the two of this during the course of the week. At the start of the week we had a hard time figure out when to cross the street, you see there's bikes and cars to be dodged coming from every direction. Inevitably one of us would get left behind, or maybe start to go and then stop in the middle of traffic as we realized the other person didn't come with us... but we got pretty darn good at navigating the chaos together and ended up able to read each other much better, and we cross the street together now, well, most of the time.

We seem to be doing all right on the health front, both of us have been taking more than enough vitamin C. CF says he already feels better, and I'm not showing any signs of actually coming down with anything. Knock on wood. We've taken it very easy the past couple days. The last time I posted we didn't leave the house till almost 1pm and actually, that's the way it's gone with both of the two following days. Yesterday I left sniffling, snoring CF sleep in and then I made us both breakfast with crepes, cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes and fresh thyme. Yum! I was so happy standing there making this meal in my little Ikea kitchen, it did hit me though that there is no reason why I can't feel like that at home. It is a good reminder to take as much pleasure in life as possible.

The opposite of pleasure is what we encountered when we went out to lunch a bit later. There was a cafe in my guidebook that was supposed to have fantastic apple pie. We sat down and had some very nice sandwiches on delicious wheat bread (mine was a big slice of goat cheese, fresh spinach and honey). I saw several people get served apple pie, so I said to the waiter, "Could we get one of those, too?" I was all pleased with myself that we didn't even have to bring up the much sought-after pie, it just showed up next to me. But the book also mentioned the service can be bad. And oh dear was it ever! The waiter who had taken my pie order was not the one who brought it out, and the guy who did got confused and couldn't figure out who it was for even though I tried to subtly wave him down. Our pie disappeared into the back room, never to be seen again. We waited... and waited... I asked about it to the original waiter and he said he'd bring it. Waited... waited... and finally gave up. CF got up to go pay, and the waiter saw this and suddenly arrived at our table with a slice of pie, he was totally just trying to mess with me, in his haste he hadn't even put the cream on the plate. I told him nicely we were about to pay and to take it back. I sadly watched the pie go away again. I felt like such a fool for going to this place where we had been warned the service was bad. No amount of gezellig could get you through that experience. I plan on writing to the guidebook and suggesting that they take them out and add the place right across the narrow street, we went there several days ago (when I had the Irish Coffee) and it was such a nicer experience.

I shook off the awkward, angry feelings before we got to the grocery store. We needed a few more things to get us through the week. We have been impressed that this isn't even an upscale store and their quality of product is really quite high. And I've enjoyed shopping every day or so, eating everything while it's fresh. Very little went to waste.

That afternoon we walked way, way across town to a microbrewery, which turned out to be inside a windmill! Very cool. We weren't really sure what to expect. The place was more in a residential and not quite so moneyed part of town. What we found looked to be mostly just a bar, with long tables and chairs, and walls lined with all kinds of beer bottles. We ordered a drink and found a seat. Another bartender arrived and when she opened the door to the back room a cat ran out and immediately started brushing up against my leg. They seem to love their shop dwelling cats here. Shortly after getting a refill the barman announced that he'd be giving the free tour of the brewery! So we got up and joined a young American couple, and about 4 or 5 Dutch men. They were very nice and let the guide do the tour in English. We learned a lot about how they brew beer there, and got a funny show when the cat came into the room and started to mess around with things, it must have been a kitten (at least at heart). When the tour was over we went back to the bar and found the place was now packed with locals! We managed to find seats again though and ended up talking to a really nice couple. It's amazing to sit down and share a piece of your world with someone else and hear of theirs in return. I'm afraid to report that I should have called it quits at least a beer or two sooner than I did. I remember very little of the rainy walk home, except poor CF holding my hand tightly. And this morning I woke up dehydrated and the apartment got rather stuffy in the more humid weather, I felt like I was losing my mind! But CF returned the favor from the day before and made me a crepe for breakfast and got me back on my feet.

We decided to go out wandering and do some shopping and that we'd probably have dinner at home. I finally bought a bag from the shop I'd seen a couple of times during the week. I think my laptop will fit in it perfectly, it's a really nice bag, and I just love that it was made by a small little company in Amsterdam that just grew out of a stand at one of the flea markets. Who knows, maybe they'll be famous someday and I'll have one of their early products. We went to another market, they have so many here! This one was my favorite by far, so full of good looking food. We got some herring on rolls finally... one raw and one fried. This is a classic Dutch snack so we figured we'd better try it. It was very salty, but it tasted pretty good. It started to rain a little as we walked away and we ended up ducking into a cafe for a coffee (CF had a beer). The rain cleared up quickly though. That seems to be the way it goes here, at least for this time of year. We walked way up Northwest and saw a park, I got us a little lost on the way back but I did managed to find another fresh doughnut stand. Maybe I wasn't lost after all. We made it back to our neighborhood and I marveled in another beautiful day in a beautiful place. I finally saw the Ann Frank House, but like I said, we weren't going in. Lots of people sure do though, the line was extremely long. I just sent some extra good spirit vibes out into the world and figured that was a more positive influence I could make right now. Not to be trite, but speaking of positive influences, we made one last stop at Puccini Bombini. Man, do I hope they go international someday! CF didn't come in with me and he disappeared down the street. Later I would tease him that I thought he had finally run off to a "coffeeshop" and he would joke that it was actually the red light district. But the truth is he followed a gut feeling and finally found the sewing kit I have been keeping an eye out for all week. Shortly after we got here I realized a button on my trench coat was coming loose, and I regretted not taking the sewing kit from our hotel room in Cologne. I've managed to hang on to the button all week, but now, thanks to CF, it's sewn back on securely.

We came back upstairs and considered staying home till dinner time, then going out one last time. But considering we'll be going out plenty once everyone else arrives we decided to instead go back out for one last Amsterdam fix and then come home for dinner and stay in for the night. We have a little tradition of always buying an art print (or at least something to hang on the wall, we brought back a photo from Ireland) in the countries we visit. I hadn't really thought of it in Zurich, I guess I wasn't taken enough, or else I was too distracted by the luxemburgerli cookies! And we were in Cologne only one night. We hoped to find something from the Netherlands though and we had looked quickly at one shop earlier in the day. Nothing was quite right. I remembered a shop I had seen either the night we arrived or the next morning. And managed to find it again, and in a matter of 5 minutes we had selected a piece to buy! I just love it when things work out so well.

We wandered around a little while longer, took a few last photographs, had one more cone of frites, picked up one last round at De Bierkoning (I forgot to mention that the tour guide last night mentioned he worked there! And tonight he was there and remembered us, "So, you survived all right then? At least you had fun!") and headed home. We spent the evening packing, sewing on buttons, and CF cooked some great salmon and veggies. He's gone to bed, I should join him as soon as possible, our train leaves tomorrow around 9am.

The trip will change from here on out, and I don't know what our internet options will be like. So I apologize if you don't here from me for a while. As always, my focus will be on getting photos up when I have the chance. Thanks for reading and who knows, maybe I can keep up with the writing still. We shall see!


Julia said...

I found your blog by searching for Puccini Bombini (just moved to Holland from Australia) and am in love with your blog - especially with so many similarities with those in your sidebar! Look forward to reading more.


MW said...

Welcome Julia! I recently saw PB chocolate in a book at the #10 best chocolate in the world. And it's just in Amsterdam! One of many reasons I'd like to go back. Do you live in the city or nearby?