Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 4 in Amsterdam

I’d forgotten that Dutch shops don’t open on Monday mornings…not that I was up n rearing to go anywhere, but like most places that still have their own special shopping hours, there’re more n more places that buck the traditions so we did get out to the local shopping Mall Gelderland Plein for me to get my bearings.
I wasn’t sure what it’d feel like being back in Holland after 16 years; before it felt like second home and I could step out the door and be familiar even if Liz had moved to a new town. This time it feels both familiar and strange at the same time – day 1 was spent realizing that I’d forgotten, or at least buried a bit deep, simple things like how to say goedemorgen, dankje wel and alsjeblieft.
We had good coffee at the local “Coffee Company” (the brand owner being a Mr Dick de Kock – not funny to Dutch people, but funny to those of us Engelsen who laugh at such silly things). 
Blue skies above the coffee shop
Then went to Albert Hein to shop for food and for Liz to show me how to ‘zap’ the groceries so you can skip the cashier…only in Holland and Japan would such a trust system work. 
Beam me up ... zapping groceries at Albert Hein
I love ‘shopping’ when I visit anywhere – not that I have to buy stuff, but it gives you such a good look into the normal lives of people and it’s fun to see how other people do things: the things they take for granted – like multicoloured lettuce packs in the grocery section that you can plant out if you like, and the things we take for granted but don’t expect to see on their shelves – like Maggi Bouillon Cubes. 
Multi-coloured plantable lettuce
2nd shelf up - Maggi Bouillon Cubes
Neat Dutch Ice Cubes
One Sunday at Pigeon Point
My Sunday beach crew would appreciate my being amused at the neat Dutch ‘bags’ of ice…yes, those little ice-cubes are all lined up neatly inside those nicely labelled packages…and apparently in Holland you don’t need as much ice as we do on one of our rum n coconut water afternoons…kinda small packs.
Stepping out - sisters

Later on Monday we took a stroll round the neighbourhood – a block or so after the main shopping part of Beethoven Str. a lovely canal crosses under the bridge – we walked along this where the houses are big – very unusual for Holland – and apparently are some of the priciest in Amsterdam. I took pictures of those that were for sale that I could see myself in (after I win the lottery) 
On the street with the older houses...
On the corner - I like this one...

Searching For Utopia
In memory of a cardiologist
There’s public art all over the place – something I wish we’d do in Saint Lucia. It’s not that I find all the art that appealing; that doesn’t really matter so much I think. It’s more important that there are visual expressions of people’s ideas, stories; desires. More important that there are parks and art in-between the commerce of life.
Tuesday we took the tram up to where I’m doing my metal-work/jewelry classes – in the ‘Jordaan’ – an old area near to Centraal Station where the roads are tiny and canals everywhere. The class itself that evening was good – good to be a student again and ‘forget’ that I know anything and be open to learning as though I am a complete novice. No pics yet :-) 
The other students were very surprised that I was staying 10 weeks with my sister "you must be very close to her!" I guess's good to be part of a family you don't think twice about spending months on end with :-) None of them really knew where Saint Lucia was - the teacher an echt Nederlanse, the other two students both half Japanese, one half Greek, the other half Sri Lankan - both imports to Holland, pretty good company for the evening.
Today a walk in the park – Beatrix Park across the road – not the most spectacular scenes at this time of year – flowers dying off at the end of summer and a few trees deciding it’s autumn already…but being able to walk for over an hour in the cool…that, I miss when I’m in Saint Lucia.