I've got so much to write that I decided to separate everything in chapters.
A) THE FLIGHT
We took off, ate a sandwich, had a coffee and we landed in Amsterdam! It took no more than 45 minutes, 90 for the whole airport to airport procedure. KLM staff are friendly and smiling, sandwich was delish and the coffee was real. This is a picture as we approach Amsterdam. The place is full of canals!
I only had hand luggage with me so in 5 minutes I was near the exit of the huge and super luxurious airport and talked to the girl at the information desk, who carelessly and like it was her own dining room, was chewing on a sandwich. I found that quite entertaining, coming from a business environment where they won't let us cough, let alone eat in front of customers, and asked her where I could get the shuttle bus from. She continued chewing, but explained politely and with every detail what I should do. So, right outside, the shuttle bus was waiting for me and on I went. So easy!
B) THE HOTEL: The area of the hotel is not trés chic. Bit away from the centre, bit of council houses, bit deserted, bit dodgy (I call it De Dodgerstraat). But who cares? I'm not buying a house here. But inside is good and the staff is very polite.
C) THE LOVELY DUTCH: A few minutes walk from the hotel is the tram stop. It arrived EXACTLY at the time that was on the information board and I got in. I said hello to the conductor and she said "Hello, where are you going?" in English.
Few years back a friend had told me that you don't have to ask "Do you speak English" in Holland. It's their second language. So I put it to the test. Everybody, no matter how old or young, speaks fluent english. I remember my Dutch friend used to correct people on TV! So I said "I'd like to go to the Van Gogh museum please". She gave me my ticket with a smile and then she spoke to me in English when we reached the museum. Same thing happened on the tram back, in the museum, on the streets even in Burger King!
D) LOVELY LONELY VINCENT:
He is definitely my favourite painter. Him and Van Eyck, another Dutch, but Van Gogh has that certain sensitivity, melancholia, pain and beauty together. The colours at the bottom of his paintings might be of gold or bright green, but the skies are always cloudy, moody, dark.
His famous painting the Sunflowers were dedicated to his friend Paul Gaugin, so that he comes to live with him in Paris. Gaugin came for a while but their friendship didn't last long. Vincent never married and he died in 1890 by shooting himself on the chest, after suffering from epilepsy. He was 37 years old.
His brother Theo inherited his vast collection and when Theo died his wife made sure that her brother-in-law's paintings will reach the ends of the world. Vincent was also a writer. His letters to his brother Theo and to other peopole, with primary sketches of his famous paintings, cover three huge volumes. I have found his "Best Of", if you pardon the expression, in Penguin paperback. A must!
E) CANALS, BIKES AND TRAMS: As you walk around Amsterdam you have to be careful of three things (ok four but that's another story)
- Watch the end of the curb, you might fall into the canal
- Look both sides, even when you walk on the pavement (sidewalk for U.S.) because the bikers appear out of nowhere, very sneeky and silently, and they come in thousands every time!
- If you escape the bikers, watch out for the trams. As I was getting ready to cross the street, a tram appeared, also out of nowhere and rung its bell. I thought I was going to leave my bones in Amsterdam! Heart attack accompanied by a squelch from the tram...
But I'm joking of course. The city is lovely and the people are lovelier, smiling, polite, cultured. I walked around the town a little bit and found myself in a square with lively restaurants, neon lights, pedestrianized little streets. I caught a certain whiff from some coffee shops, (and that's the fourth thing, it's EVERYWHERE, even outside the Van Gogh museum!), but you know me, I'm very casual with those things...haha.
Back to the hotel, got organised for the connection with the wireless and as I was happy I could blog and writing my guts out, as I do now, GOT DISCONNECTED!!!! And the damn thing wouldn't start... That's why it took me so long to post this.
Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow for the last Attic show. If I miss that I'm going to the nearest coffee shop and....
I'm joking of course... Off to write to my Quiiiiit blog now for my non smoking progress!!!
See you all and chat with most of you tomorrow!
Now I wonder: Kan ik in mijn kamer ontbijten? - Can I have breakfast in my room?