I Heart Amsterdam

I Heart Amsterdam

Sunday, October 10, 2010

08/24/10, Tuesday, Albert Cuyp Straat Market

@ ,,het koffiehuis’’

I walked into the café and the man at the counter asked if I wanted espresso, apparently remembering me from my previous visit. He already knows what I like, after just one day. The man is very much a Marina type of guy-somewhat reminiscent to the Erik the Viking Vampire of True Blood fame: tall, thin, and mysterious, also very much European.

After my espresso yesterday morning I walked back to the hotel in the downpour. It rained hard for the next few hours, really hard in fact, soaking everything and everyone. I had to take a warm shower and change when I got back to the Bicycle Hotel.

Breakfast each morning is provided for us at the Bicycle Hotel: bread-white or brown- cheeses and salami and also a plethora of spreads, from their version of Nutella to apple spreads and jams and even some chocolate sprinkles. There is also cereal, but just no fruit to be seen. I may stop at the grocery store today and pick some up.

We were planning to have lecture in this park next to the hotel. It is called Sarphatipark. Sadly the rain wasn’t letting up.

We had class in the lobby’s hotel instead. After breakfast and having re-charged with a make-shift power nap before lecture, we went on our own way. We had a group dinner at the Koffiehuis Van Den Volksbond (http://www.koffiehuisvandenvolksbond.nl/) at 6pm so we were set loose. I used the time to go off on my own and further explore-going to the Albert Cuyp Market hoping to find some gifts, postcards, and maybe some fabrics and clothes.

After finding some decent postcards, I wandered around looking for a nice place to write. It was no longer raining but the wind was in full force, narrowing my search for indoor coziness. Eventually I found a bar (mistakenly with no food service) that was perfect. The bartender was almost 70 (like Nick from Nick’s Bar in Gilbert, MN) and his 5 customers were all old men. I felt right at home. I ordered an Amstel and found a spot to do my writing.

One of the patrons took a liking to me and was very chatty. The only problem is that I don’t speak any Dutch. He had a very heavy accent and spoke only a few words of English. Once he realized I had no idea what he was saying to me, we mostly communicated through the use of gestures. He was simply fascinated with my handwriting, and in particular, the fact that I wrote left-handed. He was also curious to whom I was writing these postcards to. “Momma, Sista, Broother, Fawther” he kept repeating to me, as if he was practicing how to say these words.

I tried asking him about Genever (Dutch Gin made with Juniper berries) but he didn’t understand. I showed him the word, Genever, in my book, hoping he would recognize it, but that was of no help either. He then took my travel book, Lonely Planet Netherlands, and then walked over to the menu trying to match up the words in my book with the words on the menu. Two other men got up and joined in, trying to make sense of what I was looking for.

It was interesting that no one spoke English and I suspect this is due to their age because just about everyone else I had met tended to be a lot younger and spoke it well. In the end, we all determined there was no Genever to be found there. Maybe I will find some later tonight. After writing my 10 postcards I set out to mail them. It takes .93 Euros to mail a postcard and is worth every coin.

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