By Friday morning I was comfortably esconced in Amsterdam. My weekend of leisure in my old home town was in motion. It had been almost a year since my last visit so I was looking forward to it. Not in the desperate, craving manner of previous return visits –now that I am more settled in Ireland my longing for Amsterdam has weakened.
I had a tuna melt for lunch in Toasty! on Overtoom – a pleasant café that has always known how to make a sandwich. I spoke to the waitress in Dutch and was rather flattered that she replied to me in English. This used to be a real pet peeve of mine. Not anymore. I will continue to support Toasty – unless of course it decides to rebrand as an ‘eatery’.
Afterwards I took a stroll to my old supermarket where I bought an orange juice, and was served by a lifetime staff member of the Albert Heijn on the Overtoom. She remembered me. My heart gave a little leap of joy. I strolled past my old house on Wilhelminastraat to have a snoop around to see how the tacky new owner has ruined my beautiful home. Selfishly they have installed blinds to prevent people staring through the windows. Very inconsiderate. I was impressed with the balcony though and how cosy that all seems now.
Feeling a little nostalgic I called into a local coffeeshop called the Kashmir Lounge for a takeaway. Not a takeaway coffee of course. The product I purchased was more ‘herbal’. To the Vondelpark with my book I went. I sat there on a park-bench for a couple of hours enjoying the effects of the ‘coffee’. I felt absolutely mangled. My tolerance for ‘coffee’ has disappeared since my departure.
Pulling myself together I floated to Dam Square via Leidseplein. I had an appointment with a friend and her daughter (said daughter is six years old. A few years ago I remember seeing a toy she was playing with which was called a ‘Pocket Locket’. I started singing ‘Pocket Locket Mocket Docket’ thinking it would amuse her. It most certainly did. So much so that she started bellowing ‘Pocket Locket Mocket Docket Focket, Fuckit, Fuckit’ at the top of her lungs in the crowded park. I didn’t acknowledge her comments, but I slid to the opposite end of the bench from my friend – her mother – from where I could purse my lips and stare judgementally at them both.
We went for lunch in a café called De Blauwe Pan (Blue Pan) on Westerstraat near the Norderkerk. The sun was shining. We sat on a the terrace. I got a little burned.
I spent that evening at the house of my god-daughter, and her parents. I was highly impressed with the artwork she had created for me. It was a quiet night in with some TV, Indian food and wine, while we caught up on old times.
The next day at about lunchtime Daddy and Daughter decided that a lunchtime meal of chips was essential for their continued wellbeing. I heartily agreed. Imagine our disappointment to discover that Abi Patats is closed on Saturday. Apparently this is a legendary independent snack bar and Abi is an icon of the community. A shame that I missed him.
Luckily we sourced junk food elsewhere. Quite delicious it was too. I was impressed with the art installations on the street in the Slotermeer area.
That afternoon I walked into town to meet some people that I’d not seen for ages. We met at the Schuim (meaning ‘foam’) café for a few sociables before I had to depart.
Where was I going?
Well to the theatre actually. Darling.
My old stomping ground – the Badhuistheater – has a resident troupe of actors. I used to be a member of said troupe (and hope that I am still an honorary member). That evening they were doing a stage adaptation of ‘Blackadder’ – the series set in World War 1. I knew some of the cast and the audience. It was a wonderfully staged, and hilarious piece of theatre, that had an unsettling and disturbing ending.
I took the last metro home – which was fortunate considering how packed the trains were with revellers coming from the Rolling Stones gig in AJAX stadium that night.
What was particularly pleasing to me was how little I was concentrating while navigating the city. It was almost automatic. I can still get from point A to point B in Amsterdam without thinking.
On Sunday I had an afternoon chock-full of appointments. Festina Lente on Looiersgracht was my headquarters for the afternoon. I met some friends in a carefully timed sequence – feeling very Dutch because of the manner I had scheduled the time. Both were Dutch however, so they understood my logic. I hope. One of them booked a Ryanair flight to Dublin in November. Who says the Dutch are not spontaneous? Let’s just hope Ryanair have not gone bankrupt by then.
Later I got the tram to an old friend’s new house where I would be resting my weary bones for the evening – the last of my trip.
As it was Monday the next day, I had no plans made. My flight was at 9pm. Everyone I knew was at work, so I decided that I ought to at least make a pretence that I was in Amsterdam for cultural reasons. I wanted to visit a museum that would take approximately two hours to navigate (any longer, and I start producing a stress induced flopsweat) and would not be massively expensive (unlike in Ireland, the museums in Amsterdam are not free, admission is in fact rather pricy).
I decided on the VerzetsMuseum (Resistance Museum) which tells the story of the Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupiers during World War 2 – and how people adjusted to, collaborated with or resisted the regime. It was an interesting museum. The story of World War 2 is so well known, but this place was unusual in that it focused on the day to day life under occupation, which is not usually the focus of wartime stories.
My last destination of the holiday was Rick’s Café close to the red light district – a place where I have been frequenting for many years. It is located around the corner from the Finnish hotel – where some friends work. I met a few more old faces.
Until I had to say goodbye.
Which I did.
With dry eyes.
I reached the airport. Ryanair had delayed the flight by two hours.
Well of course they had.