I don't know what's in it but it tastes amazing...
Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
141Trip End Jul 21, 2010
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Robert rushes down the stairs worried there is not enough to eat for breakfast. I tell him there is, we’ll be fine, but he insists. While he’s out I draw the kitchen
I head out to Amsterdam today, time for museums and galleries and bits a plenty. On the way to the station I come across the narrowest alleys in the freaking world, having to turn a little to fit through. A few years ago the largest alleyway in Utrecht was converted into a house. Yes, the narrowest house I have ever seen.
The train ride is busy. The couple across from me are talking about their friends - one in particular who can’t cook and ruined a birthday, even though he’s a chef he can’t follow recipes because he’s too stubborn (well he’s not anymore, maybe that’s why). He keeps holding his leg and talking about yoga in Dutch.
I get off at a different stop than intended - the map says they’re kind of nearby so I should be fine.
One thing I forgot to mention about yesterday was the trees. All of them are pruned to within an inch of their life, all branches hacked off centering around a stumpy mid section, kind of like an echidnas penis (I saw it in national geographic and was so freaked out I never left my memory banks.)
The park has similar trees, but more of these are yet to be hacked off. There’s a gardener at work, so I suppose they don’t have long. Beatrix Park is calm. You cannot hear the road and throughout the centre are circular ponds made for skating on. Unfortunately that will not be happening today, I step gingerly on the ice and watch the piece sink beneath me. A wicked statue of righteous proportions has me enthralled for a few minutes, a number of extended arms and fists in the air like a rally. There’s no one around so it feels like a silent protest for something I’m unaware of.
Another statue is of a family cluster of penguins, stranded out on the ice (or what would be skateable ice in colder times), huddling close for warmth
I’m not lost, I’m exploring. The wrong direction for a bout half an hour has me down a canal off the map, staring at the crazy bird life and trying not to look lost. That said, these birds are freaking whack. Their feet kind of flatten out when they stand – they’re not webbed but the swim with each toe frond thing spreading out.
So I find the Museumplein eventually, which is good. The park holds the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and another one that escapes me that I don’t end up seeing, an ice rink and enough space to include temporary works out on the grass.
One such is a collection of fluorescent green cables strung between wooden structures. These cables pass through the trees, devoid of leaves in winter times. Titled Herfst in Winter (Autumn in Winter), it is intended to bring the leaves back to the trees (as can be seen kind of here). During the day however the piece appears a some kind of crazy architectural confusion which people looking up and following the lines between the trees, trying not to fall over on the slippery icy/muddy ground
The Van Gogh (not Van Go, but Van Gockhh from the throat, as I am taught by Robert later on), is amazing. Three levels of paintings, two of which are dedicated to his work alone, documenting his progression from traditional Dutch painting styles to that which he was known for, detailing his influences, locations and the undercurrent of health issues that lead to his untimely death. See here for thoughts, but to summarise my opinion of his work changed seeing it up close.
From here it’s a rather short walk to the Rijksmuseum (state museum), which holds the largest collection of Rembrandts, another artist I have been told to see and was a little unsure. Sadly the museum is currently under renovation, so only a smal section of it is open for viewing. The pieces, instead of locked away from the public, have been scattered throughout the rest of the galleries in the Netherlands (something they would alla be very happy about, but makes life hard for me). There is a couple on the way who are instead looking for the Diamond Museum, with the line "You've seen one painting you've seen them all." Are you kids for real?
I realise I have a bias toward reproduced works, of those you find in books
Rembrandt blows my mind.
First point – his paintings are big. The Night Watch, which has hung in dad’s room for as long as I can remember, stands three metres tall. Rembrandt was requested to produce another smaller version, which I think is what I find in books.
Second point – Rembrandt’s use of light and dark is second to none. His shadows hide so much more than one sees at first glance.
Maybe I expect too much of books. I’m glad seeing their work in the flesh has enhanced my view of these artists. Bias is out the window, seeing things for real changes everything
I decide to follow the tramline, on foot instead of on the rails themselves. Surely all roads lead to city centre, surely. Looking up at the apartments I see a couple moving house. There is some crazy motorized trolley thing that comes out the back of the truck and sends the couch/bed/bookcase up to the second floor
First time for Croquets in Holland! They come out of a vending machine –a hot food vending machine!!! I’m not the only person taking photos, this place is full of tourists. Each piece has its own little glass door, which you can open when the money is in. Crispy breadcrumbs on the outside, these things are filled with a meaty/some other kind of food mush. I remember Oma making pea and ham ones when I was little, but this is nothing lake that. And they’re freaking hot on the inside, despite the skin appearing cool to touch.
And clogs, I finally see clogs for sale. A whole wall dedicated to the wonderful footwear. The only pair that entice are the plain wooden ones. Sadly, these are far from comfortable (Says me who’s been living chucks for a month) and are not worth it. I’m sure I will break and get a pair before I leave
I spend the rest of the day roaming the streets without any real direction, coming across wicked street art and more. A lovely bookshop (ha books) I happen into has promo for a Zine workshop. Heck yes!!!! I also dump some stickers amongst the paraphernalia, some which I see disappear before I even leave, which is nice.
Home in time for dinner at Marja’s, where I go over my thoughts on the museums and things I have seen. Marjea was interested, as I told her of my earlier thoughts on the artists and wanted to see what I thought after seeing them.
Tonight is traditional Dutch food, fresh from Robert’s garden. Some crazy cabbage thing that is a wonderful staple that will see you out the inter yes-sir-ree-bob. I put mustard on it, along with the wicked sausage.
Talk around the table consists of earlier relationships, possible threesomes with those half your age, things we have seen, the way others are spoken and the idea of a one consciousness.
Tonight is also an open mic at Café Averechts. I think I know the way, having googled it before heading to Marja’s. My map is a little sketchy but I know what it says. Marja is unsure and shows a different way to go on a completely different looking map. Oh dear. I get outside and hope I know where I’m going. It starts to rain.
So I’m great at maps, but better without. I head in the direction I’m kind of sure it’s in, eyes peeled for one of four streets I remember, and am there in less time than expected.
Inside is toasty warm, especially with me running. Crazy lady from last night is there and smiles wide, and lets me know the list was full, but I’m playing the sound guy’s spot, which is awfully nice of him. I’m on in fifteen minutes. Packing dacks.
The first guy only seems to know the word thank you in English, and his songs are crazy theatric Latin guitar pieces and deep vocal, met by applause and laughter. I’ve missed the joke, but his sounds are amazing.
The sound guy is American, and points out the contrast in size between myself and the uke. First time for everything. I do ok – Martha, Waiting, Charming Man, Lock and Key, Flying Naïve and I’m done. The review is I’m very exciting, which I can live with. One guy recorded the whole thing so asks for my email address (I get a recording of most of the night, which is also cool). Robert also gets video for me to put on le Facebook.
Next up is a group of African drummers with all manner of sound devices, drums, strings and whistles, and they blow my mind/ Apparently they too have been here for about six months, speak fluent Dutch and a little English and are not yet used to the cold, layering up like nobody’s business
The night is fill of other crazy musicians, from a duo playing acoustic Stevie Wonder to some guy playing a crazy stomp box you sit on with a violin neck attached to four piece covering The Band. Jan is there too and I get a CD from him of his favourite band - Yngwie J. Malmsteen. I also find out from the sound guy about other open mics running in Utrecht (all three of them). He’s the nicest guy, and talks about living here and America and back again. Met his wife in Amsterdam on the first day he arrived to try to busk his way accorss the country. Now it’s been eight years and it sounds like he couldn’t be happier. I make sure I’m at the next one so I can see him play.
The walk home is freaking cold!!!!!