Wednesday, October 28, 2009

tourist in my own city

sorry i haven't written in a while. my friends Hayley and Gabe visited from their home in London for part of the week, so i've been doing all sorts of tourist sightseeing in the city i live in, and trying all sorts of "dutch" things:

-hutspot - which, as potatoes and carrots and sausages, seems like perfect comfort food
-pea soup, with that odd cold soft bacon served on a real rye bread
-MORE PANCAKES (the Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht is now a new source of happiness)
-krokets, of course
-Hayley and Gabe were brave enough to try Febo
-helping drunk passed out tourists lying on the ground (this is a common Dutch custom)
-janever - dutch gin. i hate gin of any culture, really, so i can't say i loved it, but at least it didn't have a strong nasty tast
-Indonesian food. since Indonesia was a former Dutch colony, Holland does Indonesian food quite well, kind of like the way the English can make a pretty good butter chicken. We went for the full menu at Puri Mas and was so satisfied with what we got, i can't wait to go back there and tackle the spicy beef again.

we also went on a super touristy boat ride along the canals, a tour that included all you can eat cheese (awesome), all you can drink wine (romantic), and a walk through the red light district (bizarre, as can be expected). we finally got a good close-up of the houseboats on the canal. i really want a house boat now.

while Hayley and Gabe saw the Van Gogh Museum. rob and i biked around Vondelpark, which was simply breathtaking, especially on a rare sunny day today. we could enjoy the warm but crisp air and the autumn leaves and the dutch children screaming like banshees with rabies. Amsterdam is not very green or naturey - mainly you hang out in the City Centre to see the impressive manmade canals, the cobblestone streets, the inexerienced stoned tourists blindly stumbling into the bike paths. so having giant greenspace like Vondelpark full of trees and lakes is quite refreshing to someone who spent the summer on West Coast beaches , even if Amsterdam parks are rather manmade and immaculately manicured.

i also had the pleasure of exploring the Jordaan this week. i am so in love with this neighbourhood. i want nothing more than to become a yuppie and move into one of those beautiful, high ceiling, spiral staircase, trendily decorated, 300 euro per month apartments. i have not felt such strong feelings of adoration and longing since i disovered Queen Street West in Toronto - and now i have $1000+ ward robe and credit card ebt. seeing how i had to be steered away from a $150 Euro sweater yesterday, the Jordaan may be bad news for my wallet. but it is such a cosy neighbourhood, far away from the tourist traps, where real dutch people go about their normal lives, meeting friends at cafes, shopping at the cute boutique shops, catching a local band performing at the record store. and boy are there some great record stores in the i'm going to have to find some way to bring back all the CDs i keep buying. oh well, at least i've resisted the urge to update my vinyl collection, although i've discovered this great soul/funk/blues store that makes vinyl pretty tempting...