Swins diary 2008 Day 3 - 13th June

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Swin
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Swins diary 2008 Day 3 - 13th June

Postby Swin » Sat Jun 14, 8:25 am

Up quite early to get to CS for a train to Alkmaar - have decided to do the touristy thing today and see the cheese market (as well as a few bars and a stamp dealer friend)
Hoped to take the Opstapper or should I say Stop/Go but it didn't (stop or go that is) as by the time I turned off Prinsengracht where it turns into Korte Prinsengracht I still hadn't seen one. As usual it was dull and cloudy so I had the old standby the 'lightweight all-breathing no sweating waterproof jacket' in my bag. It was proving very unlightweight and I was sweating by the time I got to CS without even wearing the thing (No wonder Swin Jnr fought so hard against taking such an item on his trips as a lad!)
Anyway enough of that, ticket to Alkmaar obtained quickly and with no fuss in the new ticket place at CS, there were queues at the International desks though. Nice to see a new 'Schiphol only' ticket office where the old general office used to be. I love CS in the mornings, thousands of people pouring into the city adds to that 'Amsterdam atmosphere'
The railway company continued to perform well with a gorgeous young lady (well they're all young to me) in a very attractive uniform at Alkmaar Station handing out lumps of cheese with Dutch Railway flags stuck in them. Sadly her cheese was better than her estimate of 'ten minutes walk' to the cheese market - if you can do it in ten minutes you can probably do the qualifying time for the Olympics 50Km walk.
Alkmaar was I thought quite nice (I have only visited once before many years ago with Mrs Swin) and after a quick beer as a 'heart starter' I settled down amidst thousands (well hundreds) of other camera wielding idiots to watch the cheese market in action.
I know its for the tourists but FFS how long can it take for a load of guys in white outfits and coloured hats to hump a load of cheese on sleds into a weighing house then out again and onto dirty four wheeled carts to be pushed out of sight around the corner to be loaded into very 21st century chilled lorries?
It just went on and on forever, made worse by the over amplified blonde bird on the microphone telling everyone in dozens of different languages what the fuck was going on.
A beautiful white open horse-drawn carriage then entered the pantomime complete with bride and groom who were photographed amidst all the cheeses. Poor cow I bet she was pissed off when she realised what he meant by a surprise honeymoon. One of the horses meanwhile deposited a pile of shit which the very superior top-hatted male driver distainfully directed his very pretty top-hatted female assistant to clear up - priceless! If it wasn't 'old cheese' to start with it certainly was by the end when the guys in fancy dress repaired to the bar I was already in while the cleaners removed the bodies of those who had died of old age during the two and a half hour 'spectacle' and wouldn't it be a lot easier if they fitted wheels to those sled things? Its been going 400 years allegedly, you'd think someone would have thought of it by now.
I gave up after half an hour and went to the beer museum. Its the 'national' beer museum and well worth a visit for those like me into such things (Beer to note if you haven't been). On a much smaller scale than the Heineken affair in Amsterdam of course but far more interesting showing brewing from hops and barley right through to consumption in smaller provincial breweries. In the distribution section they had a sail powered sled used on the canals and Zuider Zee in winter capable of carrying two barrels - amazing stuff but sadly no freebies unlike Heineken.
There is however a bar below the museum where I enjoyed a superb La Trappe Dubbel in what was by now hot sunshine. I thought the La Trappe was more effective than normal when the whole terrace began to move only to realise it was floating and a trip boat had just passed by.
Back to the station via the stamp dealers in pouring rain which stopped again as I sat down on the train. Raining again as I came out of CS so did the usual bar-hopping back to the hotel. Called in at the Cafe Eland on Elandsgracht the first bar I ever visited in Amsterdam (in 1968) and the closest to my hotel. The barmaid poor girl was the absolute double of Ruud van Nistelroy.
Took an early meal at the Cafe de Klos (meeting a guy who claimed to be married to the daughter of the man who owns Ajax and to be a personal friend of Johan Cruyff (he shut up when I asked if he could get me a ticket for a game next season) before joining a wave of orange en route to Leidseplein for the match. The whole of Amsterdam it seems is decked out in orange flags etc - fabulous to see and putting the few wind-torn flags of St George, visible in England when we actually qualify for anything, to shame.
What can I say about the next two hours? Absolutely fantastic both in atmosphere and result and I staggered on a wave of excitement and horse piss (alias Heineken) to the Gollem for some decent beer. Met a very funny Irish guy from somewhere like 'Brigg'(?) in Wicklow(?) whose accent I have to admit I had trouble understanding (but then he would probably say the same about me for different, alcoholic, reasons) Anyway he was looking for someone who worked there in 1980(!) and decided to stay for a few beers during which time he started cracking jokes many of which I totally failed to get apart from the one about the clitoral stimulating frog which I will relate if there is sufficient interest on another occasion. After a few beers he calmly asked the way to Denmark as he was driving to Copenhagen (!) and left complete with beautiful girlfriend from Maastricht.
What a fantastic city this is, so diverse, colourful, funny you name it.
Not funny were the cars sounding their horns to celebrate the Dutch win by driving up and down Prinsengracht till 2am
Sorry its a long one guys - less tomorrow hopefully
Last edited by Swin on Sat Jun 14, 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mobiljenny
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Postby mobiljenny » Sat Jun 14, 2:53 pm

Awesome read. I loved your insightful take on the Alkmaar Cheese Debacle.

Your reports have been the only real traveler/visitor content on channels.nl in months (couple other trip reports notwithstanding). So don't feel you have to hold back.

Swin for the win,
chuck.

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Re: Swins diary 2008 Day 3 - 13th June :: Friday the 13th!

Postby SlyCrayon » Mon Jun 16, 3:44 am

Swin wrote: Sadly her cheese was better than her estimate of 'ten minutes walk' to the cheese market - if you can do it in ten minutes you can probably do the qualifying time for the Olympics 50Km walk.

...

If it wasn't 'old cheese' to start with it certainly was by the end when the guys in fancy dress repaired to the bar I was already in while the cleaners removed the bodies of those who had died of old age during the two and a half hour 'spectacle' and wouldn't it be a lot easier if they fitted wheels to those sled things?

...

I thought the La Trappe was more effective than normal when the whole terrace began to move only to realise it was floating and a trip boat had just passed by.

...

The barmaid poor girl was the absolute double of Ruud van Nistelroy.



All distances within the Nederland are a ten minute walk.


Oude Alkmaar


Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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Postby DRRB » Tue Jun 17, 2:22 am

Swin,
When and where do we get the frog story ?

DRRB


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