Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Progress at Last!

Overcast with rain
By Claire
I reached my tipping point last night back in our room even after another wonderful time at The Kantine. Maybe it was the two glasses of wine. Chuck had to endure my rant. I guess I just needed to vent and work through my frustration with how slowly things are going. I mostly got over it after a good night’s sleep but still feel like a captive, even as much as I love Amsterdam. The good news is, René told us today that they are getting a rebuilt transmission and the work will be done on Thursday. It’s not perfect; it means another two days before we can leave and it’s costing us a lot more than we budgeted for by staying in a hotel and eating all our meals out. But, that’s what it is. I'll be glad when we don't have to climb up a ladder to our camper, which is up on a lift, to get clean underwear.

Meanwhile, we had enjoyed visiting the Bibliotheek so much the last time we were in Amsterdam, we decided to stop by again. This is Amsterdam’s new multi-storey, high tech library. The place is really an amazing thing to see. Free WiFi and free computers all over the place. Here are some photos:

This bar of computers wraps all the way around to the other side

This is the music floor with hundreds, maybe thousands of selections for your listening enjoyment

More of the Music Floor

We left there and decided to head back to the café we enjoyed so much yesterday, Café Koosje at Plantage Middenlaan 37 near the Dutch Resistance Museum. We love the food and the atmosphere. Warm, cozy, comfortable, friendly and the perfect volume of sound. I really notice how much quieter restaurants are over here. I never once heard a cell phone go off and people speak in quiet tones and the music is just nice background. We had a fabulous brie, leek, tomato and basil sandwich on Turkish bread that they baked in the oven so the cheese was melted. MMMmmmmmm. I really like eating in Amsterdam.

On our way to lunch, we were held up by a tram and motorcycle accident. We hope the motorcyclist makes it. The photo isn’t great but the bike is under the wheels of the tram. The motorcycle rider was on a stretcher but we don’t know his condition. We couldn’t get to where we were going and two trams were stopped for quite some time. In spite of this tragedy, it was interesting to see how it was handled.

We plan to head back to The Kantine for dinner and WiFi. Here is the dessert we couldn’t resist having again and a couple of shots of the interior.

While we were there, the same waiter who served us the night before talked with us and I told him how much we enjoyed the place. He wanted to know why and I mentioned the layout and the comfortable noise level and the food, especially the desserts. His eyes lit up and he agreed the desserts were really something. He wanted to know if we had tasted the chocolate orange pie and insisted on bringing us a sample. In the meantime, I was having trouble with their WiFi so he and another waiter spent some time trying to get it fixed. I can’t recommend this place enough! Scattered throughout this place are various places where people can just hang out. Sofas with coffee tables and a lounge area upstairs with club chairs and tables really make it a great place to come with friends. We also saw a number of largish adult family groups. Another fun thing was the waitress who had served us the night before and was trying to describe the vegetable that went with the entree. She said they were green and round and rushed off to get a translation. Naturally, they were the hated brussel sprouts. She was not our waitress last night but stopped by to quickly ask me what they were called as another couple was wondering.... It does make our exile a little easier to bear.

Here are a few more observations that make traveling so interesting:

Driver’s in France really do not care about pedestrians. Driver’s seem to have the right of way, no matter what. We learned to be very careful.

Bikes and motor scooters seem to have the right of way in Amsterdam and are very aggressive. We’ve learned to be very careful, especially of the silent trams and bikes.

In spite of this, a lot of people walk against red lights with cars, motor scooters and bikes zipping around them.

Bikes, by the way, come in an amazing array of styles. Most are very plain, without gears; but, some have 3 wheels and a large wheelbarrow-like carrier up front; most have panniers on the back, and many are set up to carry children. Bikes are equal opportunity vehicles – we see young children, young adults, professionals and men and women of all ages whipping around with great abandon. It is interesting to see women in high heels peel across the pavement to board the ferry just before the ramp lifts to leave Centraal Station.

There are no safety warnings around construction. We literally had to climb around a bulldozer through broken bricks and sand to get across the street.

There are flowers everywhere and people are really friendly and helpful.

America brought some pretty terrible things to Europe and the rest of the world:

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Marlborough Cigarettes

We see them EVERYWHERE.

We walked by a high school letting out. Teenagers are the same here as they are everywhere else.

Lots of people smoke

And finally, here is our little room at the Amstel Botel:

It’s not luxurious but comfortable enough and the location is great with a free ferry to Centraal Station and of course, The Kantine. The view out our window is great at night with all the lights of the city reflected on the water.

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