4 November 2012

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adventures of the visitors to Amsterdam.

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4 November 2012

Postby Dogbreath » Mon Nov 05, 10:37 am

One noticeable change in the coffee shop scene in the six years since the last visit is the indoor air quality (IAQ, to use my engineering lingo). Cigarette smoking is no longer permitted in most coffee shops. Some tolerate it if you keep you cigaretten pack off the table. Most enforce the ciggy ban, but tolerate the cannibalization of a perfectly good cigarette to mix with weed. The elimination of cigaretten smoking, in conjunction with the installation of new ventilation systems that actually appear to work, are the reasons. Those thick clouds of smoke in just about every coffee shop are a thing of the past.

The days are becoming colder and we now routinely wear our winter scarves. Keeping the neck warm and elimination of cold air infiltration down the neck makes all the difference to us.

We no longer bother to check the weather forecast television monitors in the lobby of the Movenpick Hotel. The forecasts have been consistently wrong when predicting days of no rain. But they are correct when predicting moisture. We now sneer and ridicule the forecast now when we walk by.

At this point, we hardly notice the rain anymore. We always carry umbrellas, regardless of such “forecastsâ€￾. When the magnitude of raindrops exceeds our threshold of tolerance, we pop the umbrellas open, now in a smooth, skilled and almost automatic manner. We walk along kilometer after kilometer not even thinking about the rain. The rain stops, the umbrellas are put away.

If it were raining at home, we would never consider intentionally going outside in the rain for a walk. Even dogs have the common sense to avoid intentional rain walking.

The Dutch don’t even seem to notice the rain….. we see folks riding feits in the rain…. Some with high tech, full body armor rain gear. Others total ignore it, accept getting wet the way we all accept night and day, and pedal on down the road.

We start our day this Sunday with a visit to 420 Café at 12: 30 for a coffee and attitude adjusting, first smoke of the day. But the shop is jam packed… full of “blokesâ€￾. Huh…. How can that be… the place only opens at twelve noon?

Red found a restaurant in her guide book she wants to check out. We take the tram to Leidseplein. Then walk on Prinsengracht to Buffet van Odette. Alas, this place is like a sardine can, people are even waiting outside. We stroll on down the canal and find a small corner eatery. Inside: warmth and dryness. This place is very old, only five small tables, with an elderly gentleman behind a counter doing everything. Red has a delicious sandwich. My “Texas Hamburgerâ€￾ tastes nothing at all like the burgers I had last year while in Austin, Texas. But it satiates.

Red stares at her drink glass and comments on how the glasses become thin on the top where the lips go. Ergonomic, she declares. Huh.

Into the rain, now it is a steady very heavy rain, the coldness seeping into us. Back in Leidseplein, we decide on Dolphins, but I can’t remember where it is. In a few minutes we find it, a warm dry refuge from the weather.

We sit, enjoying our coffees and first buzz of the day. Like is goeden. There are lots of Americans here, for some reason.

Red observes she no longer has any of her chronic migraine headaches since we started our NL visit. She also declares this damper weather is good for the skin. She struggles daily with the dampness making her red hair fizzy. I tell her she looks just fine to me, which she certainly does. And besides, no one in town knows who we are.

Two young American women enter the shop and buy some weed, and then go over to use the Dolphin’s specially engineered vaporizers, but are unable to figure them out. The bartender woman comes over and gives then very precise, detailed instructions.

It is now raining even harder. We smoke more and order more drinks.

Three times while we were there small groups of young men entered and immediately went to the vaporizers. The bartender comes over, and in a Gestapo manner, informed them they must buy a drink to sit in the coffee shop. Unwilling to accept this burdensome policy, they depart.

Would they stop in an American coffee shop and not purchase anything? The centric focus of youth.

Into the cold, dispiriting rain we go. Even this rain is too much for us so we get on the tram and head back to the hotel for a catnap.

We go out into the night, and we are very, very hungry. We have dinner at Skek Restaurant on Zeedijk, a traditional olde Dutch place. It takes over one hour for our meals to arrive. Inwardly, with hunger pangs, I am fuming at the slow pace. Then I laugh at myself at being such a stereotypical, fast-lane, impatient American.

As a result, Red and I institute our new Netherlands policy: If we are starving and our prime objective is simply to get fuel into our furnaces, we will avoid traditional Dutch places. Problem solved.

The previous day, while sitting in a coffee shop, we had an experience we never anticipated: boredom. Yes, as unlikely as it would seem, we came to the conclusion we were becoming bored with our pattern of aimless wandering and intermittently stopping in coffee shops. We were mutually and momentarily stunned at this realization.

So, we decide we must have some “structureâ€￾ now. Of course, this new structure was developed in a wisp of smoke. So, given our remaining days are now short, we decide to actually do something: take a boat ride. We decide on the Boom Chicago boot, and later stop in at Boom and buy tickets.

And Red, a hard core dog person, wants to visit the Pouzenboot. Go figure. So we put that on our to-do list.

We now have only two days remaining. We repress this dreadful thought.

We depart the restaurant, out into the night. It is dry! No rain! With glee, we make a final stop at 420 café enjoy our Looza fruit drinks, a smoke heavily our Laughing Buddha. Central station is quiet this late Sunday evening, the usual bee hive of activity now dormant.

We feel content at the end of another day in Amsterdam. Red is pleased to receive a video of her dog eating dogfood.

There is no place like Amsterdam.

Life is goeden.


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Postby moe. » Tue Nov 06, 1:29 am

If you haven't already been to Pozenboot, stop by Albert Heijn first and get a can of Felix cat treats. As soon as you open the can, you'll have a ton of furry friends.

I'd also like to give 2 thumbs up to DNA's LA Confidential seeds. I brought some back from my 2010 trip and had excellent results with them inside. Not so lucky outdoors, but it could've been my fault somehow.

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