Sunday, March 02, 2014

four cities, two weeks-- amsterdam, days 12 and 13

after the rough landing in amsterdam the night before (DAM SQUARE AND RELATED AREAS I REALLY REALLY HATE YOU) i was a bit nervous that i was not going to like amsterdam.  how do you compete with prague?!

the answer is that you don't. amsterdam is a lovely city! VERY different than prague but still just as fantastic. and, yeah, everything that you've heard about the bikes is true. they are EVERYWHERE. 

word to the wise, STAY OUT OF THE BIKE LANES. (not only does that keep you from looking like a tourist but you stand less of a chance of DYING BY BIKE)

leff and i decided to grab some breakfast at one of the neighborhood groceries so we walked along keizersgraacht,


and chowed down. i love european yogurt. THIS IS IN A GLASS JAR

not pictured:  the bread, the tiny smokey cheeses and the beetroot salad that we split.

after a lot of back and forth texting, we were FINALLY able to meet with gareth and the other brits in front of centraal station. this was a GREAT location at which to meet 'cause behind centraal are several ferries, all of which are free, ONE of which will take you to a nice part of noord amsterdam. you know, the part with the eye filmmuseum. 

and a few blocks away from the ferry dock is the 3d print canal house. if you are in amsterdam THIS WEEKEND (March 1-2, 2014) THEY ARE HAVING THEIR OPEN HOUSE. DO VISIT as this is an intriguing project!

sadly, we were a week early. BUT! we got a glimpse of the 3d printed covered bench in the courtyard!


at they eye, we did not do much more than experience  the fury of the gift shop and have a drink at the cafe. I HAD HOT CHOCOMEL

it really IS as good as everyone says it is.

short ferry ride back to centraal station and then it was time to find our way to stadsarchief. i had to ask the info desk guy twice about the trams (first time if forgot to ask how much they cost. second time, he winked at me and told me to enjoy the trams. LOL DUTCH DUDES YOU ARE THE BEST)

stadsarchief is WONDERFUL. if you are even remotely interested in amsterdam's history, this place is worth a visit. it has many interactive exhibits for children the four men with whom you might be traveling.

(purple hoodie going back are nick, leff, other steve and gareth/leonard)

let me just show you the basement of stadsarchief.

I KNOW RIGHT each of the vaulted rooms had small exhibits inside of them. here're pictures from one vault that contained backlit vintage photos.

and then. AND THEN leff and i found the boiler room. it is a nice looking thing, isn't it?

i'm pretty sure this is something that should not be happening to it though BECAUSE shortly after nick, gareth and leff were fucking around with levers...

THIS happened.

i'm still not entirely sure how other steve managed to slice open his middle finger. i do know that the house medic had to be called. and also that it was hysterical laughing at his finger with the lady at the front desk who thought it was TOTALLY the funniest thing that he cut his MIDDLE finger of all fingers. DUTCH PEOPLE I LOVE YOU

bloodletting over, it was time for lunch. we had some really nice beers at a mexican place near oude kerk

before i REALLY had to take a nap. my cold was coming on fast at this point. bah. so back past some boats

and i crashed. for hours.

later that night. leff knew that i would be very cranky later if i spent all of my remaining vacation time sleeping in amsterdam. "we can't find dutch light tonight" he said "but there is still a chance for gezelligheid!"

and that is how we found ourselves in the joordan. what a great idea! THIS was the amsterdam i had been hoping for!

small shops, cooking smells from people's kitchens, quiet, comfortable, convivial. SO much different than the tourist hell that you first encounter upon arrival.

plus illuminated animals.

i will not lie, i wanted both the fox shirt AND one of the miffy lamps.

leff had done a bit of researching while i napped. one of his discoveries was an EXCEPTIONAL brown cafe near the bridge of 15 bridges. sadly, cannot recall the name of the place but MAN the atmosphere. locals REALLY DO hang out in brown cafes!

i asked the barkeep if it was ok to sit anywhere and he just smiled and said "of COURSE! relax! it's your vacation! you must enjoy this!" and so i did. EXCEPTIONAL beer. (i really do not know which country's beer i enjoyed most on this trip! let's just say they were all great and leave it at that.)

there was a calico cat in this brown cafe and it was absolutely content. gezelligheid kent geen tijd i was to learn. because the remainder of the night was just so SO! you know?

for example, these bells. you know i love church bells at night.

you could probably also guess that i love pannenkoeken! we had these two at pancake bakery which is located in a building that has been standing since the 1500's.

(my pannenkoeken was chicken and cheese. leff's was ham and cheese. beers were dutch but i cannot recall the name. apologies!)

we even got some dutch candy for the road. (i still have my hopjes that i am saving for a rainy day (which is probably going to be today as it is currently raining here.))

the next morning, however, ah god. i was going NO WHERE. my cold was a full fledged sinus infection. ugh. thanks to leff though, i was still able to have some dutch treats (ba doom ching!) in the form of a suikerwafel

and a mini boeterkoek.

these were both DELICIOUS with the coffee i was able to make with the in room nespresso!

between naps, i watched a lot of the sochi olympics in dutch. (sports. seriously, they work for me in other languages.) leff had much more fun exploring the city. (you can see some of his photos here.) he told me about everything he had found when he brought back lunch. INCLUDING this magnificent beauty of a building.

by early evening i was rested enough for one last meal with the brits. (IT WAS SO SAD that we couldn't hang out more!! :( :(  but i'm sure we will be back in/near the uk again soon enough.) on the way to cafe sonneveld  we passed this show by rhamsey k.

dinner was DELICIOUS. i think we all ended up getting stamppot, some of us opting for sausage (i did), others, the meatball version. this was THE PERFECT meal to end the trip. SO MANY VEGETABLES IN STAMPPOT

sadly, we had to say goodbye to the brits (MISS YOU GMONEY SAY HI TO NICK AND OTHER STEVE FOR US) AND rhamsey k

as we had packing to do. yep, the next morning we were going back to the states. BOOOOO. leff got me a cheese kroketten from febo to try and cheer me up. ok, yeah, that worked for maybe five minutes (i do loves me some deep fried cheese from an automated machine! (leff made a febo video! hahahahah! XD XD) but, come on. who wants to go back home??

 the answer is never me.

last two flights of the trip (iceland air from schiphol to keflavik, keflavik to seatacky, bah.) were uneventful but considerably louder and slower to load because of fellow americans. (seriously, guys. maybe try not shouting indoors? also, FUCKING CHECK YOUR BAGGAGE. god.)

i had one last hot chocolate in amsterdam but it was not the same. i get so depressed when i have return boarding passes. it never fails.

still, iceland was as beautiful as it always is (i have SO MANY passport stamps from iceland and have yet to set foot out of the airport. LET'S CHANGE THIS LEONARD!!! MEET US IN ICELAND!!!)

and it was nice to get back to the cats. sigh. :(

and so ends the crazy go nuts four cites in two weeks vacation! posting will return to "normal" on monday when i will tell you all about making stamppot and czech beef in cream sauce at home. i still have my cold but at least i am no longer jet lagged.

good news for all of you travel post fans! i have at least two more trips in the planning stages (one for the middle of the year, one in october. yet another that may or may not be possible.) one of these will be HUGE and on a continent that i have not yet visited.

and for fans of watching me pack boxes, GET READY! casa rakkaleff is moving house AGAIN this year. (more than likely in the fall. lots of things up in the air at the moment but i will keep you posted.)

as for now though, i have a chicago dog to consume. it IS almost time for the cubbies to start losing again, after all. see you soon!

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