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i’ll always have pictures

can’t believe it’s been a week since i came back from my trip. time flies when you’re battling jetlag and going back to work.

i’ve plowed through 750 pictures and videos and finally decided which ones to post to flickr and which ones to post on my blog. (all blog entries have now been updated with pictures. woot!)

and as i’ve gone through my images, i’m reminded of a really wonderful trip. it is my hope that it won’t be another 15 or so years til i go back to amsterdam. and that i must go back to explore more of belgium. so much to see, so little time.

press play on the amsterdam slideshow or click here to go to flickr.

press play for the belgium slideshow or click here to go to flickr.

my dear europe…until we meet again.

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the little differences

i had to giggle, sigh or shake my head at some of the things i saw on my trip. it’s the little things that makes us oh so different than our european counterparts. here are some things you may not find in your tourist guide:

for lovely boobies, try this lovely jubblies cream from lush. i wonder if we have this particular product in canada?

no surprise i found these items in the red light district. left: the piggy salt and pepper shakers are sure to stir up conversation at the breakfast table. right: oh bunny, what have they done to you? also available as a brown teddy bear.

cannabis lollipops and mushroom tea sold at the waterlooplein flea market. a little pick me up.

oh. yes. they. did. of all the names for all cafes, in all of the world.

i hadn’t seen cherry coke in forever! canada stopped selling it years ago so this sent waves of nostalgia over me. not that i was a big cherry coke drinker. but still.

you can find lots of automats in amsterdam with food for € 1.

the king of all lowriders. i can’t imagine someone riding this on the streets of amsterdam. it was selling for like, a ka-jillion euros at the quicksilver store in the kalvertoren mall on kalverstraat.

brilliant. if ever you get homesick while in amsterdam and get that craving for US/UK items such as tang, chips ahoy cookies or walkers chips, the eichholtz deli certainly provides.

service with a smile in zaans schans. the staff looked quite serious about it too.

marketing win! those belgians got me. you should always be able to see the fruit in the bottle of yoghurt. stir and enjoy.

chocolate needn’t be boring. these were sold in a bruges chocolate shop, alongside chocolate duckies for kids

everyone’s seen condom machines in washrooms. yawn. but have you seen condom machines in the middle of a busy street? good for those spontaneous sexy times. i also spied outdoor tampon machines in brussels too.

at first glance i thought this was an ATM inside of a brussels mcdonalds (like they have in NYC) but nope, it’s touch-screen ordering where you select your meal, pay by debit/cc and walk over to the counter to collect your food. who knew mcdonalds was so tech-savvy? how long before this shows up over here?

some people might look at europeans as same, but different. some may even call culture shock and not be able to speak the same language. but i like to think of europeans like quirky family members who make me laugh. or roll my eyes. we need more quirky on this side of the pond.

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canada day flail

and how did i spend canada day?

waking up at 6am to make my 930 flight. sitting on a plane for 9 hours 55 minutes. and now battling jetlag.

i was so afraid that i would miss my flight but i made it. i got to schipol airport almost 2.5 hours before the flight and even then i found out that all the window seats were gone. there was no online check in for this flight so it was first come, first served at the airport. i did get an aisle seat. upon boarding the plane, i asked the flight attendant if there were any window seats, if i could get one once we are at cruising altitude. with 80 empty seats on the flight, she said she’d find me one.

unfortch, it was like musical chairs after we reached 38,000 ft. people were grabbing better seats and claiming rows. without consulting the flight attendants on their changes. utter chaos.

since the flight attendant had promised me a window seat only to find an old man pretending he was deaf and not willing to give up his new find, i settled for a whole middle row all to myself. not too shabby. the tv monitor was just 2 rows in front of me. i could stretch out and curl up in my comfort kit blanket.

being able to lie down made a world of difference! although i slept in spurts, at least i got a wee bit of sleep. i think that helped immensely when i landed in vancouver. i was not as loopy when sean came to pick me up at the airport.

air transat rocks. they feed us twice. first pasta lunch with rice salad, a dinner roll and two-bite brownies. hours later, i got a slice of pizza. yup, a carbophobe’s worst nightmare.

by the time i got home, the jetlag “spins” started to set in. i felt myself flailing so i confined myself to the bed watching dvds. so tired that i couldn’t fall asleep as it was so light out. i conked out somewhere around 7pm and woke up after midnight, hungry and a bit out of sorts. so exhausted that the canada day fireworks didn’t even wake me up. i slept through it all the noise-making.


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wind power

for my last full day in amsterdam, i took off to the countryside to see windmills. jumping on the train to zaanse schans only took 20 quick minutes. originally i wanted to sail the zaan river with a hop on/hop off ferry (such a romantic) but unfortunately, the ferry only operates from friday to sunday. no matter, i took the footpath and i got to see more.

the popular zaanse schans has historic windmills, shops, cheese and dairy farm, restaurants and museums to attract tourists. i was overjoyed to find that the restaurant de kraai served traditional dutch pancakes – all 29 centimeters! i could visit windmills and eat a dutch pannekoek all in one trip. i feasted on the apple pannekoek with a bottle of apple juice. cuz you know what they say about apples.

how awesome is this? a pony-necked bottle of apple juice to go with my apple pannekoek! i can feel like i’m drinking a beer!

i just left the restaurant and sat on a bench to change the battery in my camera when this little fella came waddling up to me.

seconds afterward, his friends also flocked around me. seems they wanted me to feed them. the birds were the most polite birds i’ve ever come across. they just sat at my feet, looking up to me. if i knew, i would’ve saved them some pannekoek.

i take it i smelled like pannekoeks?

energized from lunch, i walked around in the heat and sun to take in the 6 windmills. at one time, there used to be a thousand windmills in this area but now only 13 remain; 6 of which are at the zaanse:

* de gekroonden poelenburg (sawmill)
* de ka (mineral mill)
* de zoeker and de bonte hen (oil mill)
* de huisman (mustard mill)
* de hadel (drainage mill)

across the zaan river, are pretty rows of 17th and 18th century houses.

after seeing the windmills, i felt pretty satisfied. i had seen everything i wanted to see and done everything i wanted to do upon my return. anything else would be gravy. and so after half the afternoon at the windmills and getting more tanned, i jumped the train to go back in the city to have a wander, eat some dinner and packed.

i can’t believe that it’s not even midnight and i can barely keep my eyes open. it may prove to be my saving grace though as i have to wake up at the ungodly hour of 6am. let’s hope i don’t oversleep.

good night amsterdam. i will miss you. x

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the dark and the light

brussels re-cap V

tuesday, june 29

i had time this morning before my 122pm train to check out the antoine wiertz museum in the leopold district. having been intrigued by his symbolist painting, deux jeunes filles (la belle rosine) at the musee royaux des beaux art’s exhibit, i wanted to go to this museum dedicated just to his works.

deux jeunes filles (la belle rosine) by antoine wiertz

antoine wiertz‘s paintings were interesting yet strange and unnerving. the main exhibition room is floor to high ceiling chock-a-block hung with wiertz’s huge canvases. not one inch of wall space is wasted.

the other rooms were smaller and more claustrophobic which may have been an intentional move as some of the paintings were rather macabre. a rather unusual museum, that’s for sure, but worth a visit. to see my flickr set on the museum, click here.

after meeting michele to return the keys, i hopped on the train to take me back to amsterdam. as much fun as i had in brussels, i felt like i couldn’t breathe the past couple of days. the stifling heatwave was exacerbated by the fact that brussels does not have any body of water running through it. and save for the touristy and “fifth avenue/champs d’elysee-type” streets, many were littered with piles of garbage. even the breezes in brussels were not refreshing. perhaps that why i felt so happy in bruges with its canal and bridges. i thought i was the only one who felt like this, but michele told me her friend said the same exact thing of brussels when they first visited in the summertime.

which is why when i walked out of amsterdam centraal station, i felt at once i could breathe again. my mood and energy instantly perked up. and i was happy to be back.

ivy, my next bnb host, was kind enough to meet me at central station so that we could walk to her place on the brouwersgracht, just 5 minutes away.

the view from ivy’s livingroom window

ivy’s apartment is also a stone’s throw from de poezenboot boat. her apartment is the 2nd floor of a walk-up. the stairs are neck-breakingly steep but once you get up to the unit, the place is light and airy.

watch your step, it’s an ‘effin doozy

not only does ivy have a killer view of the singel canal, but my bedroom has its own sink/vanity. as odd as it looks in a bedroom, it’s actually quite convenient for brushing and washing up.

after setting my things down, i wanted to walk around the city and take in as much of amsterdam as i can before my departure on wednesday. but as i was also pooped from the 3 hour train ride in, i took it easy tonight. ivy went out with her friends until late so i took advantage of her most awesome tv. it’s a philips aurea 2 ambilight LCD tv.

this tv so appeals to the ex-raver in me

ivy told me that it’s actually better on the eyes when watching tv. it’s so rad that i want one. course, it may be a good idea not to get one for fear i’d become a couch potato.

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on the kalverstraat

it’s summer madness in amsterdam. and unlike all the other days of the week, thursdays are when shops open til late, which is either 7pm or 9pm, depending on where you go. so that’s what i chose to do on my free day. shopping for sales on the high street, the kalverstraat.

tops starting at € 5. pants starting for € 8. went nuts at h&m and mango. send help.

i’m glad i bought a duffle with my carry-on.

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newbie on two wheels

i thought i’d be toot-toot scootering this morning to see some windmills. but that went to hell in a handbasket.

when i arrived in landsmeer for my adventure, the owner gave me essentially a 20 second run down on how to operate a scooter.

thisiswhereyouturnonthescooter. yourlefthandisyourbrake. yourrighthandisyourgas. thisiswhereyourblinkersare. rightforrightleftforleft. clickthisbuttonwhenyoufinishedturning. thisishowyoulockthescooter. i’llleaveyouamobilesoyoucancallmeifyourunintoanytrouble. heresthemapfortheroute. you’llhavetorideonthefreewayuntilyoucandetourtotheroute. nowfollowmesoicanshowyoutothefreewayentrance.

i’m sorry. i know you said on your website no experience is necessary for renting your scooters but c’mon a 20 second what’s what? i know i’m not a 10 years old but i need a little more hand-holding than that.

the guy gave me the equivalent of telling someone who’s never swam before, to just jump right into the deep end, swing your arms around, kick your legs and you’ll be swimming.

and the fact that my first time on a scooter, i’ll be on the freeway for a stretch with cars and lorries? this screamed accident waiting to happen. too many things wrong with this picture: i could cause an accident, crash his scooter, endanger myself, endanger other people or worse, strain international relations between holland and canada over this.

course, i’d still love to learn how to ride a scooter. just not with this guy. no hard feelings though. i made my way back to amsterdam.

stopped off at magna plaza’s cafe and used my i amsterdam card to get 25% off lunch while ruminating on what to do the rest of the afternoon.

smoked salmon on a bun with fresh squeezed OJ. nom!

at first i was alittle bummed that the scootering didn’t work out, but if it hadn’t played out like that, i wouldn’t have decided that i was going to learn to ride a bike instead.

after lunch, i made my way to leidesplein area and found the macbike bicycle rentals. i was going to rent a bike and learn to ride it in nearby vondel park.

there’s 2 things that i think it’s important for everyone to learn. (everyone meaning me) one is how to swim. the other is how to ride a bike. i wish that i had learned when i was little. it’s one thing i would get my kids to learn when they’re young. holland is a nation of bikers. amsterdam is the bicycling capital of europe. there are about 700K bicycles in amsterdam alone. (there are some 735K people in amsterdam) the dutch start getting their children comfortable with being on 2 wheels. by the time they’re adults, they are bonafide cyclists.

so i walked my bike over to the park. i was miss weeble wobbly when i first got on. i’ve only ever been on a bike maybe once or twice when i was a kid and got turned off because i was also wobbling all over the place back then. and it’s no fun to ride like that. and since i never had a bike at home, i never practiced. but i was determined to ride straight this time. and after a bit of feeling how a bike steers and where it’ll curve and what i have to do to correct it, i started to be able to ride straight and for long stretches.

i kept rationalizing to myself: i been on rollerskates, skateboards and snowboards. i have to be able to learn how to balance on a bike. hell, i balance myself on 3.5 inch stilettos!

the great thing about being in another country, you don’t care if everyone is judging you because you’re never gonna see or run into them again. i didn’t give a hoot who was looking at me. i was just doing my own thing and trying not to take down the bike and me with it. but of course in a nation of expert cyclists, i’m gonna attract attention.

i was coming up to a group of young guys playing footie on the grass and a few of them were taking a break. as i wobbly cycled passed, one guy ran up to me and for a second i thought he was going to harass me by telling me to get off the road. instead, he held onto the back of the bike to steady me and push me in a straight line. that was really good of him. course, i was still just starting out so if i had looked back or waved, i know i would’ve toppled over.

it got easier but still challenging. sure, amsterdam is flat and the riding is easy. but there are no dedicated bike paths in vondel park. everyone shares the pathway: pedestrians, cyclists, scooterists. and like driving in north america, you travel on the right side of the street. so i had to learn to ride, weave between pedestrians and not crash into them, watch for oncoming bikers, and make sure to check if there’s bikers coming from behind me before getting back on my bike. i had just hoped that any speedsters from behind would just go around me, which they did. they flew by me and that was a bit disconcerting at first.

i ended up biking in the park for 2 hours. (i’m sure at least 40 of those minutes were just on sorting myself out) when i got going and cruising steadily along, i really started enjoying it. so much so, that if i have time, i’m going to go back to practice some more. and when i get back to vancouver, i’m looking forward to biking the seawall at stanley park with sean.

mind you i was more morgan freeman driving miss daisy, than lance armstrong competing at the tour de france. and i’m happy to be riding like that for now. i’m not planning on cycling in traffic. even with a bike lane. i’d rather buy a townie bike than a ten speed. it’s recreational fun for me, not some personal best.

the girl at the macbike told me i was brave to learn to ride a bike in crazy amsterdam. hardly. i would be brave if i had learned in traffic instead.

still psyched from biking, i walked over to the het muziektheater for the off-chance that i could score a cheap seat to the opera, a dog’s heart. there was one seat left in the 1st balcony for € 25. my i amsterdam card gave me a further discount and i ended up only paying € 18,75. cool.

the opera started at 8pm and doors opened at 7pm. after a quick bite nearby, i proceeded to check out the theatre which is situated directly on the amstel river. i couldn’t help but compare how they do things here to how we do things at home. as i walked in, the ushers scanned my ticket with a hand-held device. we don’t have those nifty things at the QET. (but we so should) there was no VIP desk at muziektheater but they had a gift kiosk as you walked up the stairs. there was no VIP lounge that i could see.

with all the staff that worked there, i couldn’t help but to look for our “counterparts”. do they have a “jenny” here assisting people picking up their tickets? or perhaps a “christopher” or “michael” acting as the “chef du jour”? there was a “doug” though, as i heard a man wrap up some pre-show talk, followed by applause. i didn’t see a “ling” though. no one shooting fashion at the opera. actually, most everyone was rather casual, save for a handful of people. and even their dressed up is not “dressed up.” our vancouver folks got them beat, hands down.

the theatre is very modern and nice. glass windows from floor to ceiling with a view of the canal. the inside of the house was clean and gloriously red. it was odd for me not to see a sunken orchestra pit. not only was there no barricade seperating the orchestra from the audience, but the first row was almost on the same level as the orchestra. in fact, sitting in the first row, if you crane your neck a little, you could read along to the music sheets. you can practically touch the maestro, he’s so close to the front row.

my seat was not bad at all. i ended up having almost the whole row to myself! there were people at the other end of the row, but no one was on my side. i had 5 seats on my left empty and like 15 seats on my right empty. and there was no row behind me. i owned that row. the theatre was far from being sold out. there were lots of big pockets in the first and second balcony, although the orchestra seats were filled.

the view from my seat

from where i sat, i could see the stage perfectly. the only obstruction was that i couldn’t see the surtitles but it doesn’t matter anyways, the surtitles were in dutch. oh, and unlike vancouver opera, they charge € 8 for their programs. i had read up on the story beforehand so i was just decided to go without.

the world premiere of sasha raskatov’s a dog’s heart is based on the russian novel, heart of a dog.

In a score laden with fantasy and emotion, he tells the absurd tale of a professor who implants a human pituitary gland into a stray dog, which proceeds to become more and more human. The utopia goes awry as the transformed beast turns into a cruel figure from whom everyone learns the sensation of nederlandse opera

would vancouver audiences take to a dog’s heart? my guess would be no. it’s too avant-garde and that may be a hard sell. it’s very european, very experimental for opera and may be too much out of the mainstream for vancouver.

sjarik the dog had 4-5 handlers on stage the whole time. watching sjarik, i was reminded of the puppetry in war horse by uk’s national theatre. i was also reminded of eric stoltz’s mutated dog in the fly II.

what also struck me was that the wings on the stage were completely visible from where i was sitting. you could also see the framework and trussing. i could see the chorus/supers in the wings and i could see the tv monitor showing the maestro. perhaps it was intentional?

the opera was short, finishing at 920pm. for a second i wondered if it was intermission but then i saw people heading out the door.

so did i like it? it was fine. it was different. and worth what i paid for. it was hard to watch though cuz the dog was skeletal and rough-housed so that it could be put under for experimental surgery. the surgery was done behind a sheet so all you could see were sinister shadows of the doctors but was still graphic with all it’s medical instruments and blood spurting. it did not appeal to my animal loving side.

but hey! tonight’s the latest that i stayed out the whole time i’ve been here. i got back to the bnb by 1030pm. yea. i’m living it up.

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miffed and bosched

today was off the beaten track day. i did a day excursion out to utrecht and ’s-hertogenbosch. try to say that quickly five times. or you can just say den bosch.

what was in these 2 places worth checking out?

how about miffy, international icon in utrecht and heaven and hell in den bosch?

first stop was the dick bruna museum in utrecht. i don’t know about you but i used to read miffy books when i was wee. loved miffy. and hello kitty, little twin star, the mr & mrs books. sure, i read the cat in the hat and the grinch too but i wouldn’t go out of my way to check out a dr suess museum or anything. suess illustrations didn’t leave an impression on me as much as the clean lines of miffy and hello kitty.

but i digress.

utrecht is 1/2 hour train ride from amsterdam. it’s a lovely, charming little uni town. in fact, so nice i almost wish i had devoted the whole day to checking on just utrecht instead of double-combo’ing today. the city is quaint. very european, almost english village vibe. no trams. the bus line from utrecht centraal station roundtrip is like 12 stops. and the museum was stop number 7 from the station.

also, i didn’t know but my admission to the dick bruna museum also include entrance to utrecht’s central museum and the rietveld schröderhuis which i had no time for today. next time i’ll know.

when you enter the dick bruna museum, you’re greeted by a huge gold coloured miffy. the first room after that is a wall full, floor to ceiling, of miffy books in all the languages it’s published in. the next room is a children’s playroom complete with life-sized house and multimedia displays of miffy and her friends.

going upstairs, i found a tribute to dick bruna, dutch author, illustrator, graphic designer and creator of miffy. his father wanted bruna to take over their publishing business. bruna had other plans but still stayed in publishing. he became such a successful graphic designer that he was commissioned for covers for the saint and james bond. as i was appreciating his works in the exhibit i found out that at age 82, bruna’s still drawing and coming up with miffy stories.

doesn’t bruna’s lottie look like my niece? i got a kick out of the resemblance.

bruna is so revered by those in the illustration and graphic design industry. his simple way of drawing is universal. his igloo looks like an igloo. his bird looks like a bird. no matter what language one may speak, you know what the artist is trying to convey just by looking at it. bruna is all about the simple and uncomplicated. maybe that’s why miffy and hello kitty has always appealed to me and shaped my aesthetics and preferences.

japan and hong kong are HUGE miffy fans. in fact, the couple of museum attendants that i came across asked me if i was japanese. i suppose the museum has a fair share of visitors from the far east. dick bruna museum as pilgrimage site.

for those that dig on strange, freakish and fantastical creatures found in renaissance paintings, one really must visit the jheronimus bosch art centre in den bosch, which is 1/2 hour from utrecht. call it bosch universe. it’s the only place in the world you can experience everything bosch.

keep those eyes peeled for outdoor bosch sculptures

i used to be frighten of jheronimus bosch‘s paintings because they were so wild and depicted evil scary monsters and humans in depraved acts. but now that i’m older, i can appreciate his works without having scary dreams.

the last judgment tryptich by jheronimus bosch

bosch’s paintings reveal the true nature of man. his paintings depict the struggle between good and evil. bosch paints of religious angels thrown out of heaven, devils dominating the world, saints showing man the road to heaven. bosch takes you up to the highest place in heaven and depicts the deepest level of hell.

the bosch art centre which is in a church is big. allow for a lot of time to enjoy the 4 gallery floors in the church tower and especially the main floor of the church. the first thing i did was sit and watch the 10 minute film on bosch and his works. but i couldn’t wait for the film to finish so that i could run around and look more closely at the various bosch sculptures on the floor and hung from the church ceiling.

tim burton would have a field day in here! one of bosch’s sculptures remind me of danny devito’s penguin in batman. another looked like the scary face that alec baldwin and geena davis made to scare winona ryder in beetlejuice.

it also looked like MAD’s spy vs spy face.

the art hung on the walls is not actually the real bosches. those are in museums around the world: bruges, ghent, madrid and lisbon to name a few. at first i was a bit “cheated” looking at them because there not the real ones, no matter how high-quality, same size as the originals, photographic reproductions in authentic hand-made frames they are. the bosch sketches under preservation glass, however, are authentic though. no wonder they let me go nuts with my camera. but then i thought, you’re looking at all of bosch’s 25 paintings in one place. better than in a textbook or online.

the fifth floor of the tower offers a near 360 panoramic view of utrecht. but i got to warn you, take the elevator to the 5th floor and hold on! it’s fast and it’s clear glass, so as you’re whipping up and your eyes catching what’s on each floor, you may get a sense of vertigo. i had to put both hands on the handrail and feet apart to steady myself. it was really trippy and challenges one’s fear of heights, going so fast yet also felt slow at the same time. i was wishing that it would just get to the top floor already and let me out.

from the top floor, i made my way down to every floor and listening to the audio listening guide of each painting, which by the way was included with the entrance fee of € 6! (none of the other museums have done that!) there were chairs set up on each floor for further contemplation of the paintings.

by the time i hit the main floor again, i still felt like going back to certain sculptures and paintings to see it again. you can’t take it all in in just one go. but unfortch, it was time to go.

as an observation, i’m finding that the dutch operate on dutch time. (which is not the same as asian time where people show up “fashionably” late, like 2 hours later?) when a store, museum or business state their closing hour is 6, that really means the employees will be closing up shop about 20-30 minutes before. in vancouver, when a store says they’re opened to 6, they’re opened til 6 and employees are normally scheduled for 15-30 minutes later to close up shop. maybe that’s just a guideline? i was at this cafe at magna plaza the other day. they were closed at 7pm. i got there at 6pm only to be told i can’t order anything to eat cuz the kitchen is closed. but they’re serving drinks if i’m so inclined. no, i was not so inclined. it’s dinner time and i’m hungry dude.

back to bosch. i would recommend the jheronimus bosch art centre for the wow factor. cuz seriously your mouth will drop when you first walk in. and if you’re not a bosch fan, go anyway. you’ll become one by the time you leave. and if not, like utrecht, den bosch is a charming and picturesque town to check out. there’s even some bosch figures hidden in plain sight along the canals. you’ll be doing the whiplash thing.

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the cat lady of amsterdam

i knew what i wanted to do when i woke up this morning.

and that was to go to de poezenboot boat. i was surprised and a little disappointed that the boat cruise i went on last night did not point de poezenboot out to us. but being the resourceful little bee that i am, i found them online and made my way over to singel 38. although the massive 50% summer sale at h&m sidetracked me a wee bit.

de poezenboot currently houses 25 cats and the boat is run entirely by volunteers. think spca except that some of the cats have free reign on the place. they can stay in or choose to go out on the side deck (which is enclosed by fencing so the cats won’t drown in the canal) those that can’t be socialized are safe in their cages until the time comes when they could be introduced to the community at large. the cats were a bit skittish for the most part and i found it ironic that the ones in the cages are the most friendly and wanting to have human contact.

hanging out with all the cats made me miss sean and jonesy at home. i was at de poezenboot to get my fix.

i hung out long enough to chat with one of the volunteers who told me that de poezenboot never puts down or deny any cat in distress. that adoptions vary from once a day to once every couple of weeks.

the best story she told me was one of kismet and granny. kismet was 16 years old when he was adopted and taken to his new home. but then he ran off and his new humans couldn’t find him. kismet had gone back to de poezenboot. the new owner brought him home once again, only to find kismet had slipped out and gone back to the boat. turns out that kismet is the male companion to granny. they had both come to de poezenboot together. and it wasn’t until he kept coming back that the staff realized that “kiss” would not leave 17 year old granny.

the 2 cats even have their own cat cushion that they sleep in together. just for them.


an example of animals who mate for life. so wonderful.

i left reluctantly, but was happy to have been able to hang out at de poezenboot for almost an hour.

i walked over to the western canal side to see anne frank huis. i had visited the museum the last time i was in amsterdam 15 years ago. and it’s changed since then. there weren’t high def tvs in every room airing interviews with those who knew and had helped the frank family during the war. neither were there telephone handsets in different languages so you can listen along as you watch the introduction film when you enter.

similar to the rembrandt huis, there was a modern storefront built beside the actual house where customers are received and admission is charged. we then walk inside which then connects to the ground floor of the house itself. the museums windows have been blacked out or window shaded to preserve the interior.

in highschool the diary of anne frank was compulsive reading for english class. we had even watched the diary of anne frank movie. (1959) but it’s something entirely different seeing it IRL. climbing the neck-breaking stairs, touching the actual wallpaper (well, maybe we weren’t suppose to “touch”) and walking about in the claustrophobic rooms where they hid for 25 months. otto frank, anne’s father, made the decision to leave it unfurnished after the germans cleared their possessions after their arrest and deportation. but to show how the annex looked back then, scale models were made based on specific details provided by otto.

though the furniture are all gone, the pictures of actors pasted up in anne’s bedroom are real and behind preservation glass. the moveable bookshelf that hid the secret doorway to the annex still have all the record books and binders from otto’s business.

i wonder if the floors were as creeky then as they are now? anne and the others in hiding had to be quiet during the day when people were working downstairs for fear of being discovered. the 8 in hiding couldn’t run any water nor flush the toilet, walk around or make any noise whatsoever. it boggles the mind to think that those simple things meant life or death to them.

the front attic was probably the most affecting, as you learn about the arrest, the deportation and the fates of each member of the group. on august 8 1944, all 8 inhabitants were interned in westerbork transit camp. on september 3 1944, they were all transported to auschwitz. anne’s mother and sister died in the camps. anne frank died a month before the liberation. otto frank survived.

nobody has ever discovered who had betrayed them.

from left: anne frank statue, signage, shelly winters had promised otto frank that she would donate her oscar if she won best supporting actress for her role in the anne frank movie. she did.

in the diary room where you could see anne frank’s red and white checkered diary (under glass) and also read some of her passages from her stories on the wall. anne’s diary was first published in the netherlands in 1947. it has since been translated into more than 65 languages. in july 30, 2009 the writings of anne frank were included on the UNESCO world heritage list of documents. it was inscribed on the register as memory of the world.

taking a contemplative walk about the anne frank huis, i walked over to the jordaan district. and got myself a strawberry gelato, found myself a bench and ate it canal-side while basking in the sun. a purr-fect summer day.

the jordaan is a picturesque, colourful and laid back neighbourhood. there’s interesting shops, galleries and cafes but a little too quiet for me.

i headed back over to the dam (my thighs are gonna be hard-core toned by the time i get back from all this walking!) but since most of the retail shops closed at 6pm today, i continued on to the red light district. seeing the RLD in the light of day is probably not the same as experiencing it after the sun goes down. even though it was still light out, there were scantily clad girls in windows trying to entice the men passing by, brutish bouncer thugs probably ready to kick some ass if anyone takes a picture of the women (it’s a no-no) and signs luring pedestrians to come in and watch live sex shows as well as kink in the stores as far as the eye could see.

add to the mix “coffeeshops” where there are designated “smoking” rooms. you can smell the weed as soon as you hit the red light district.

and maybe it’s because i was walking around in the day, but it didn’t feel as pervy as it probably felt years ago. like men in trenchcoats pervy. it gave me a good chuckle to see older couples (we’re talking 55+) walking through the red light district taking pictures of each other in front of the sex clubs. with a big naughty grin. such swingers! can’t wait for those to show up on facebook!

and of course, chinatown would happen to be the red light district’s next street over. btw, the price of chinese food is astronomical here. i can’t believe some of the prices of dim sum. i’m gonna have to suppress my urge for chinese until i get back. and sushi.

speaking of tummy grumbling, as i headed back up the damrak to catch my bus at centraal station, i decided my dinner would be a falafel sandwich from maoz vegetarian on the damrak.

talk about a ‘effin’ taste explosion!

i’ve had falafels before. and sure, i tried moaz when i was in new york. i certainly was no stranger to their union square location. but today…today took the cake! i had made a note to have one when i had the french fries at mannekin pis yesterday. but hell, if i knew it was this good, forget the damn fries.

seriously. the best falafel i’ve ever had. nom nom NOM!

it was SO good i felt like going up to someone afterwards and just saying grrrrr! it was so good that i didn’t even want to eat anything afterwards for fear it will take away the taste in my mouth. (YES, i heard what i just said)

and you can betcha i will get my fill of maoz falafels before my trip is over.

yes, i am enjoying the food here. immensely.

Travel the world

tallying up

i heart my 72 hour i amsterdam card. i used it well and i think it shows.

the card cost me € 58.

so did i get my money’s worth? let’s add it up. here’s the cost of all the adult entrance fees if i went to these attractions seperately:

allard piperson museum € 6,50
museum het rembrandthuis € 9
amsterdam historisch museum € 10
dutch resistance museum € 6
de nieuwe kerk € 5
hermitage museum € 12
hortus botanicus € 7,50
rijksmuseum € 12,50
van gogh museum € 14
holland international cruise € 13

other bonuses & discounts:
de bijenkorf dessert & tea € 5
25% off opera tix at musiektheatre. regular price € 25. discounted rate € 18,75

total: € 106,75

yup. i say i did good.