The flights, and the transfer in Frankfurt, were uneventful. United have improved their service, a lot. We got more food than we knew how to eat, and it was free, because it was an international flight. It was even edible, just amazing. Add to that the fact that I could plug my computer the whole time, and even access the Internet, and I was a pretty happy camper. It cost me twenty bucks and many hours of sleep, but I was happy.
We checked in to the Hilton Doubletree Centraal Station, while it was still light, Everyone was very nice, and the hot cookies were delicious. Unfortunately, our key did not work. Neither did the bellman’s master. The duty manager, and a maintenance man, got involved. While we were waiting for him, out in our hall, I asked the manager where I could buy a bottle of wine, to eat with our leftover United and Lufthansa sandwiches. We were too tired to go out to eat. She immediately had a bottle of wine sent up to compensate us for the wait. Good on the Hilton, too. It wasn’t great wine, nor were they great sandwiches, but they were just what we wanted, and we enjoyed them by our window, with its river view.
We woke up at ten the next morning, Wednesday, August 3rd, much refreshed, and proceeded to have a lovely shower together, followed by some bath time for me. Then we went to Starbucks, downstairs, for yoghurt, muffins and tea. Pat Harrold and Paul Hart checked in by text message, and we both downloaded WhatsApp, for free calls. My new ASUS Zenfone 2 is working a treat. There are still things I don’t understand about it, but it’s performing, and the quality is high.
Elvon and I worked out at the hotel’s fitness center, while Pat and Paul went to the Rijksmuseum, to see the Dutch masters. It’s fabulous. We saw it years ago. I could go again, but I have quite a bit to do, and what I didn’t do much of last time was walk the streets. So, I set out for my walk. I needed to fill a prescription for Elvon, as our derm had called me at SFO to tell me that a culture had shown that the infection in Elvon’s navel was not cancerous (good) but also not what she had prescribed for. So, I needed a pharmacy, as well as a depanneur (what all Montrealers will always call a convenience store). The concierge told me both could be found in the train station next door, on my way back. He suggested a nice city walk to Dam square, right through the red light district. It was great fun. This is what you get for a jewelry store:
Yes, I saw a lady in a window, too, but she wasn’t much. She was built just like me.
The pharmacy in the station turned out to be just a drug store, and what I wanted was prescription medicine. Onne, the concierge, called a real pharmacy, but they insisted on a doctor’s prescription. This wasn’t a problem for Onne. He has a doctor on call. This doc is 93 years old, quite famous, still very smart, and only 70 euros. We didn’t have much choice, so I had Onne bring him on.
The doc arrived, accompanied by Luke, the manager on duty. He was there as translator, and general factorum. He also sorted out the uncleaned room in a hurry, got us two more wine glasses, advised on a restaurant and provided a wheelchair to get Elvon there. Onne bicycled off with a prescription for amoxycicilin-clavulin . The doc didn’t like our Napa derm’s advice to use Aquaphor to keep E’s belly-button juicy, so it would not close over, as it had been doing for months. He prescribed baby powder to keep it dry. I wrote to Drs Duncan in Napa, and Sissons in Montreal, but I started on Dr. Lassen’s regime. I was pretty sure the antibiotic was a god idea, and Elvon tolerates such things just fine.
Pat and Paul were there by now, and we started in on our Chateau Depanneur Sauvignon Blanc, with cheese and bread sticks. I had bought Kaas and Zout flavors. It turned out Kaas was cheese and Zout was salt. Google translate on my phone would have told me this, had I been smart enough to look. The depanneur had four kinds of cheese, but they were all Gouda. I bought the one with the red cellophane, and it was very good.
The restaurant was Ganesha, named after my favorite Hindu god. It was excellent, but not very accessible. Once we got Elvon up the four steps, with no railing, short treads, and high risers, we found out the bathroom was in the basement, down a whole flight of stairs, with even shorter treads and higher risers. Three of us had large Kingfishers. Elvon had a little one. He lasted long enough, so that when he had to go, Paul just whisked him away, while Pat and I stayed to pay the bill. The food was wonderful, and we do recommend the place, but only to the able-bodied and able-bladdered.
On Thursday, the 4th, we pretty much repeated the day, only we were up a lot earlier, and I got most of the computer work done for our hosting assignment. Our Montreal dermatologist, Wendy Sissons, had weighed in with the suggestion that we use rubbing alcohol to cleanse and dry out Elvon’s belly-button. I didn’t know whether to add the talc or not, so I did. About mid-afternoon, Pat and Paul came over and we stuffed and folded for an hour or so… Then they went back to their B & B, as it was very close to where we were having dinner. I went out for a walk to Dam square looking for golf shirts for Elvon and nail polish for me. In other words, trying to buy that which I had forgotten to pack. No luck, but it was a fun walk.
I got back to the room, freshened up, mustered Elvon, and we took a taxi to Restaurant MAX, Herenstraat 14, Jordaan area. That’s the up market area Pat & Paul’s B & B is in. It’s Dutch cuisine with Indonesian specialties, as Indonesia was once a Dutch colony. We had the tasting menu, which was delicious and a lot of fun. The rice chips were addictive, as was GrisBlanc, a rosé from the Languedoc. We had three bottles.
Pat’s ex, Steve Harrold, has never met Paul, and Pat and Paul have been together for thirty-five years. Steve refuses to believe Paul even exists. He has never believed me before. Maybe he will now. Herewith, evidence, at MAX:
On Friday, the 5th, it was Starbucks, gym, computer, pack and go for a walk. I was now treating Elvon’s belly-button with white vinegar, on the advice of Dr. Karyn Duncan, our Napa derm. It gets those gram-negative rods, you see. So I was shopping for vinegar, along with golf shirts and nail polish. I didn’t get any of it, but it was fun. There’s a Pride weekend just starting up, and the red light district was all in rainbow balloons, street vendors, and such. I wished Elvon could walk, as it looked like a fun evening on the street was just about to start.
Pat and Paul had late Van Gogh Museum tickets, and a plan to crash not long after, so we made our own fun. We still had half a baby Gouda and a bottle of Lindemans’ Chardonnay, from the depanneur run. I added a fresh baguette and ordered one lasagna, and a side of white vinegar, from room service, and got a couple of free Hilton cookies from the desk. By the time we had gone through that lot, the sun was just going down, so we rode the elevator to our rooftop SkyLounge, where there was a lovely view of sunset and city. We only stayed for one glass of wine, as it was a tad chilly, but we were very happy we had gone up.
In 2017, we have two assignments on Holland America’s 647 passenger, ms Prinsendam, January 3, 2017, it’s a 67-Day Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage. There’s a 37-day segment, too.
and next summer, it’s the ms Prinsendam again, August 18, 20-day Iceland, Greenland & Scottish Explorer. We would love for you to come along. Just shoot me an email and I’ll get you a quote.