Day 13: Amsterdam, Part 4 (Sunday, April 1, 2013)



We are still in “take it easy” mode. That’s allowed on vacation, right? It was nearly 10 by the time we decided to get up and Dan announced, “no, it’s really 11 – look at my phone, the time changed last night.” I’d forgotten he told me yesterday Europe was on a different schedule and that was happening. Oh well!

Our first meal was essentially lunch then, these pot pies we bought at the outside market in Haarlem yesterday, along with some coleslaw and bread.

We finally left around 1pm but didn’t have much on the agenda: a canal boat ride (cuz you kinda have to), and some meandering through some less touristy neighborhoods, specifically Jordaan.

We saw and learned a few things we hadn’t known on the canal ride, but mostly it was pretty and relaxing. I’ve included a few pictures at the end. Jordaan was very pleasant, with nice neighborhood shops and children’s playgrounds. It convinced me Amsterdam might be more livable day-to-day than I had thought. We came across a little Japanese pastry shop (“taiyaki”) and got a fresh warm snack for the rest of the walk home. Did I mention it was snowing again when we woke up? By this time it had warmed up to about 40. The news said it was colder in Europe on Easter (which today was) this year than it was last Christmas.

We had accepted a tea invitation with our hosts and met them around 4:30. They live in the same building on a lower floor. A delightful couple who have lived here 35 years together, him before that as it was his father’s place: Karla, a dental hygienist, and Ben, an architect. Their two daughters are in college, one in Vancouver BC, the other in Kobe Japan – so a 16 hour time zone spread with the parents in the middle.

Karla and Ben are well traveled, she has lived in the US at times, they have both visited quite a bit. Each have an interesting WW II connection. She is part Indonesian. Her father was a POW of the Japanese in the Pacific. He survived and lived to be 94. We’ve learned since we’ve been here that prior to the war, Indonesia was a Dutch Colony because of the trading there by the Dutch East India Company. Children of Dutch men and Indonesian women were called Indo-Europeans. After the war, Indonesia became independent and they had/got to pick which country they wanted to be a citizen of. It explains why there is such a large Indonesian population here. (And why so many Indonesian restaurants. We were going to eat again at that first one today but it was closed. We experienced the same thing in Germany last week: lots of stuff is closed on Sunday.)

Ben’s father was one of the Dutch non-Jews who went into hiding to escape the German labor camps. All men aged 18-45 were essentially ordered to be slave labor. He managed to escape that and survived the war as well.

We had a lovely visit for over an hour over tea and pastry (surprise!).

And speaking of locals, we met a young woman a few nights ago in the checkout of the grocery store. She overheard us asking the cashier questions about credit cards (which I could do a whole thing about but won’t – just ask us about it before you come to Netherlands!) and figured out we were American. Either by the content of the conversation, or our accents, which I was amused to learn we had from the Portugese waiter a few nights ago.

Anyway, she was an interesting gal named Mariela: 27, born in Italy with the accent to prove it, but has lived all over with her family and speaks 7 languages. She has been in Amsterdam for 5 years while studying to be a sexologist. She talked to us non-stop on a freezing sidewalk about all kinds of things for 30 minutes, including her issues with Dutch culture and how phony it is, prostitution, and various lovers she had. Mostly to get her to quit talking, Dan said we had to go (we did, he actually had a Pacific Time work call that night) and we should have dinner one night while we’re here. They’ve been texting since. He texted her about dinner around 1:30 today. We hadn’t heard from her by 6pm so went on with our evening. She was a character. I was both a little disappointed and a lot relieved.

We needed to pack and start planning the details of our stay in Bruges so just went to – ready? – a bakery around the corner and got some savory pastries, and some bread to eat with the remaining cheese we had in the refrigerator from our first trip to the grocery on Monday. We also had an interesting fruit salad – mayo based of course, did you forget where you were? – from the Haarlem market yesterday. Dan normally doesn’t eat bread but he has been crazed about the baked goods here.

And that was pretty much our day. We leave early tomorrow for the 4.5 hour train ride to Bruges.

Here are some pictures from the canal boat ride.

 

There are a fair number of houseboats. Would be a trip to live in one, eh?

 

 

 

A fancily designed bridge, which Paris copied for one over the Seine.

Yes, that says 1722.

Where the tour started and stopped.

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