Monday, February 11, 2013

Batavia


When I arrived back to Amsterdam, I went looking for a place to stay.  The first place I stopped in offered me I bargained for a room with no bathroom for 40euros.  The next place I stopped in offered me the same price for one with a bathroom, so I opted for this.  I asked the night clerk if I could get the place for the remaining three days I was there.  He said yes, and to talk to the clerk the next day but they might have to switch my room.  The next day, the next clerk would not honor what I was offered.  He went as far as to tell me that the last clerk had probably lied about the extension of the rate, given that this was now friday.  I was not happy, and while I dickered trying to find another place, he gave away all the other rooms.

 I stopped in a place called Hotelrunners.  They had two places for 50 euros.  One had a bathroom, the other did not.  The one with the bathroom was only available for one night but was closer.  I opted for this and made my way to the Y Boulevard Hotel.  The place was charming enough, and included breakfast.  I told the clerk that I hoped to stay another night and I had gambled on an opening.  He told me he would see.

After settling in, I made my way to the Van Gogh Museum.  Actually, the Hermitage Museum of Amsterdam that was hosting the Van Gogh collection while the museum was under renovation.  This was a slight disappointment because the Van Gogh Museum was under renovation the last time I was in Amsterdam.  Anyway, the paintings were beautiful, but there were too many people and, as such, was a little claustrophobic. 

After the museum, I passed back through the old Jewish Quarter, stopping at a giant statue of Spinoza with a cloak of parrots.  I made my way through the canals, and over to a café to sit out in the sun in the Nuiewe Kerk Square outside the Red Light District.  I sat out in the café, drinking hot spiced wine and eating a delicious provence sandwich of melted brie, pesto, avocado and tomato.  After a while, the hail returned and I was forced inside.  It was once I walked in did I realize this was the same bar I was in the night before.  Too funny.  I sat near the bar, reading and drinking dark DeKonnick beer as I waited for the storm to pass. 

I walked across the Centraal station, as the sun cast resplendent on the gilded red brick central station as I chased the dying light.

I spent the night wandering in and out of bars, reading and sipping small Amstels.  I ended up wandering over to Haarlem to a lovely bar called Ramenas. The place had good wifi, and a cute blond waitress.  She was very helpful when I found out that my bank account was frozen over fraud warnings, and even let me borrow her cell phone.  Her name ended up being Paulina, the second in as many days, which I took for a sign so I asked her if she wanted to join me the next night.  She said yes.  Turns out she was German not Dutch, from Hamburg (The Star Line)

I came down the next morning to find out that there was not going to be any way for me to stay.  I headed back to search for alternative accommodation.  I stopped at the Hotelrunners spot, and they were helpful but it was too early to find a place.  Not wanting to waste my last day, I went back to the first place I had visited.  Sure enough, they had a room at a good price, and I kicked myself for not staying there the whole time.

After I dropped my stuff, I spent the day wandering through old Hollandia

After my museum adventures, I found a quaint bar lit by candles where I sipped a few beers and decided that I need a Euro-sabbatical.  More to come on this venture in the future.

I spent the evening killing time, and stopping for dinner for Argentine steak as a last dinner in Amsterdam (there are a lot of Argentine steak restaurants in Amsterdam, not sure why- perhaps ex-pats leaving the 2001 Argentine financial crisis?) and chatting with a Dutchman who admired Jefferson. 

I met Paulina at the end of her shift at the restaurant, and we made our way to a smoky candle-lit bar.  She ended up being a wee university lass of 20, yet quite precocious.  We ended up chatting about Freud and Borges, ego and psychoanalysis, as well as Tolstoy and truth vs. vanity until the wee hours.  I’m definitely not in America, as I can’t imagine an American college girl making me think as she did.

And thus essentially ended my Amsterdam vacation.  I woke up early, packed up and caught the train to the airport to head back to America.  On the flight, I talked my way into a few drinks with nominal excuses.  However, it bothers me to no end that I need to do so on international flights, as these drinks should be free.

Amsterdam, and Europe for that matter, hold such a special place in my heart.  It fascinates me and makes me percolate with ideas.  

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