Saturday, September 26, 2015

Amsterdam: Of Markets, Museums and Men

We awoke to brilliant blue skies this morning here in Amsterdam. Our first stop would be breakfast at the cafe where we stopped yesterday for pie, followed by a visit to the flower market.

Our corner of Amsterdam

This exotic beauty eyed us from a bench across from our table.

Three eggs over toast with bacon and cheese. A bit too much fat, but we survived.

View of the Nieuwe Kerk as we left the cafe this morning.

The flower market was a bit of a disappointment. When Mark was here almost 20 years ago, he came in the spring, and the place was overflowing with beautiful flowers. There weren't many there today, however. What there were a lot of were tourists and tacky souvenirs, although I did find an authorized Delft store where I purchased an addition to the Christmas ornament collection.

One of the many things I love about the place we're renting is that it is close to everything, whether on foot or by tram, but there aren't tourists right around it. We are several blocks off Dam Square and several blocks from the Anne Frank house. Though we sometimes see tour boats wending their way through "our" canal, we don't see dozens of people following someone with a toy attached to the top of an antenna. Actually, it's Saturday evening here and there is a lot of traffic on the canal. We're hearing tooting of boat horns.

After going to the flower market, we came back to the apartment via tram because I forgot the tickets to the Rijksmuseum - the ones we didn't use yesterday because our guide was soooo boring and Mark wasn't feeling well. Actually, he wasn't feeling all that bad, but we've learned that there are benefits to playing the cancer card: rather than hurt the guide's feelings yesterday, I simply told her that Mark wasn't feeling well.

As it turned out, we had a fantastic experience today at the Rijksmuseum. There were no lines whatsoever. We rented the audio tour thing and set it to the 90-minute highlight. It was perfect. 

My favorite part of the museum was the "Old Master" section with these huge paintings by Rembrandt and others of Dutch men. (Some may ask, "Why is it always about the men?" To those I say, "Isn't it obvious?") Imagine, guys ... all that lace, and it was totally ok.

Mark picked up this postcard at the flower market.

Ninety minutes, as I said, was perfect. When I was in France on my mission in the mid-80's, I learned a word that was dear to missionaries' hearts: "marre." The French say, "J'en ai marre," which, loosely translated, means, "I've had enough," or "I'm sick of this." Missionaries could relate to, "I'm sick of this." (Try trudging up and down staircases in apartment buildings and being rejected one door after the other.) 

Well, I came up with the phrase, "museum marre," meaning, "I've had enough of this museum. I can't take any more. Let me out!" Ninety minutes prevented museum marre. Any more than that and I would have been nervously asking where the nearest exit was. 

From the museum, it was back to our apartment for a little rest before heading out for an early dinner at an Indonesian restaurant near our place that had received good reviews. I had chicken satay (with peanut sauce). I'm pretty sure that this dish, prepared while I was in law school in Vancouver, BC by a Dutch friend who grew up in Indonesia, was what made me sicker than a dog. Luckily, a "few" years have passed since then, and I did just fine ... so far.

From there, back to our apartment for happy hour, blogging and people watching from our window.

Late Saturday afternoon. People throng the outdoor tables at cafes along the canals.

Late afternoon light

Our building is the black one in the middle of the photograph

We are on the second floor up. This morning, our property manager swung by to ask us if we would mind if a mover came into our apartment to help lower a washing machine (i.e., outside) from the apartment above us. Would we be home, she wondered? "Is there somewhere we could leave keys?"  The look on my face must have conveyed something, because she said, "Maybe I call the moving guy and confirm, yah?" I nodded. After a not-brief discussion, she hung up and said, "No problem. He doesn't need your apartment." Good.

I *love* Amsterdam.

Tomorrow, we get to go on another tour with Jelte, our foodie guide from Thursday. Because we enjoyed him so much, we tracked him down. Result: He is going to give us a private tour of the city tomorrow. What a wonderful way to complete our visit to this beautiful, enchanting city! On Monday, we fly to Munich.

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