Saturday, August 2,
I woke up refreshed and went straight to work. I did the paperwork for the ship and caught up with my blog and 342 emails. Luckily, I could delete ¾ of them. The weather outside alternated between bright sunshine and raining katten und doggen. Jack and Sylvia Parker finally arrived around two, just as I was finishing up. Their plane had been delayed in Toronto, then getting to the gate in Amsterdam. They were in a huge line at customs, too. They were ready for a quick lunch and a nap.
I went to the Rijksmuseum. I took a tram, which left me no option for the snack I wanted, but the museum café. It was good enough, but service was slow, and I only had an hour to find and tour the special Rembrandt exhibition. Too bad I had managed to misunderstand the “Hello Amsterdam” magazine in the hotel, which, I now see, clearly states that “The Ultimate Rembrandt Collection” is at RAI Amsterdam. I took that to mean the Rijksmuseam, when it’s the Convention Center. That’s where there are 350 high quality reproductions, in their original sizes and in chronological order. The Rijksmuseum’s special Rembrandt exhibit is 350 works by contemporary artists, done especially for 2019, to commemorate his death in Amsterdam, 350 years ago. At least I had enough time to see that, but it was disappointing.
I got back to the hotel in time for a nap before dinner with the Parkers at Bird, a Thai restaurant, smack in the Gay red-light area. There was a creepy looking guy leaning out of the window across the street, with a raven sculpture on his windowsill, as we stood in line to get in. There were also a gazillion dildos of all shapes and colors on sale, as we walked there.
The food was excellent. I had them make it extra spicy, after last night’s bland experience at Ashoka. It came out just right, a little tingle on the back of the tongue to remember it by after you finished.
Just like last year in Dublin, I managed to be in Amsterdam for Pride week. I don’t do this on purpose, but the universe knows I live at Fountaingrove Lodge and would like it very much. Today it delivered the last day of Pride Week, on which the parade takes place on the canals. The hotel told us to forget taking a canal tour, the boats had all been commandeered, either by the organizers or the gay tourists. We should just go out there on foot and have fun.
First, we went out in the morning to do a couple of errands and hit an ATM up for Euros. I have known the Parkers for over 50 years and Jack Parker is an amazing walker, with an incredible sense of direction. He listens to the concierge and off he goes, unerringly reaching the destination, and at speed. I was impressed. I didn’t see much of Amsterdam but the back of his head, mind you, but we got the errands done.
On the way we did see a couple of interesting stalls, selling Amsterdam’s old main export and what will likely be its new one:
We nipped back into the hotel for a quick rest and a pit stop and went out to lunch. We figured we’d catch the Pride parade a few blocks before it was to end at Centraal Station. We stopped at a tapas place for lunch because it had all the diverse things we three wanted, sardines for Jack, soup for Sylvia and crepes for me. They come with Nutella here, instead of the maple syrup I want, but what’s not to like about chocolate and hazelnut?
This parade gives an old meaning to the word “floats”:
And that picture gives you some idea of how many people were watching. It made following Parker’s bald head a little more difficult, especially when I stopped to make a purchase. Wait until you see it. It’s only coming out on special occasions. We were back in the hotel by a little after three for a rest. I should have been writing this blog then, but I was actually resting. Jack Parker has got to be about 85, and he’s wearing me out. Sylvia is over 80, too, and she keeps up with him. Must be because she’s had years of practice. I’ll have to get this old body out walking more.
We had a half hour forced march to dinner in Rembrandt Square. I was diligently following Parker but keeping Google Maps going, just to be sure. I was also trying to have a bit of fun. This was multitasking at speed. I just had to stop to take this picture and got it complete with photo-bomber:
Of course, the photo bomber wanted to see the picture. He was very nice, but I had to set out after Parker. I soon noticed Google Maps had changed its mind and we were now 18 minutes from the destination, which had been 4 minutes away, just a minute ago. I thought this was odd, but I didn’t have much time to think. I had to catch Jack and turn him around. So, I put on a burst of speed and caught him two minutes later. Back up the street we all went, Jack none too happy – and he was right. About a minute and a half later, I woke up to the fact that I should re-check the destination in Google Maps. Sure enough, somewhere in the middle of the picture taking and showing, I had inadvertently inserted some unknown destination into the mix. I removed it, turned us back around to the way Jack was going, licked the egg off my face, and we were at Indrapura in 2 minutes.
We were there because “Hello Amsterdam” had interviewed a bunch of locals. One of them said “if you only do one thing in Amsterdam, have a rijstoffel”. That’s an Indonesian ricetable. It made sense. The Dutch were the first Europeans in Indonesia and brought the culture back. The person in the magazine and the concierge at the hotel were right. It was a great meal. There was a main stage just across the street for Pride Day, but we’re too old to get mixed up in a young drinking and dancing crowd, so we were happy in our swanky, only half-full restaurant.
The crowd on the street had been buying beer and take-out from local restaurants and food stalls, and the streets were a hell of a mess on the way back to the hotel. We wondered why the city didn’t put out a bunch of trash bins and concluded they just would have impeded the flow of traffic and may have been a temptation for revelers to overturn. We waded through the mess, which was gone by 10:00am the next morning. I wasn’t too happy about the garbage men invading the restaurant I was having breakfast in, mind you. They took out at least six huge bags, right past my table.
I am on August 4, already and it’s boarding day. So, it was pack, breakfast, check out and call a taxi. While we were waiting, we met a grandfather, his daughter and two kids, all bound for the Rotterdam. They were from Vancouver Island. You know the Canadians by their luggage tags and the mother recognized the name Parker on one of ours. One of her kids had it as a first name.
Our taxi arrived at least fifteen minutes late. The post-Pride traffic, combined with a shipload of people bound for the port, was making things difficult. When we saw the size of the van that came, we made a few calculations and invited the family to join us. Good thing we did, because when I checked my manifest an hour later, I found they were in my DV group.