In Amsterdam

My friends greeted me at the Amsterdam airport in true Holland style, bikes and all. We first took a train to where the bikes were parked and then cycled home, weaving through the green parks in the breezy evening. Nico shouldered my pack and I sat on the rack behind Marjan.

First I must say that the fact of being picked up at the airport was a trip in itself. I can't remember the last time someone was inside the airport waiting for me. Normally I walk coolly past all the hugging or tearful reunions, sometimes with balloons or flowers and often with kids; and the anxious people waiting for loved ones--the faces that light up with the sight of their beloved behind me, or that slight let-down look every time another body comes into view, and it's not the anticipated body. I normally like this part of arriving and of airports in general. People giving each other the ol' once over, arms out and a step back and the upanddown looking. At this moment everybody looks good, refreshing even. The waiting's over and you get to drink each other in, tall glasses of cool water. These reunions make me smile and, admittedly often choke me up a little. So it was cool to be hugging this time and not just watching everybody else hug.

Rain scented that first evening, but it didn't start to tip until the next morning. And tip it did. I kept thinking, July? I am sissying out to the cold again after being so long in Turkey. But even though it rains, just a little every day, the days are also lovely. Green and flowery. Songbirds and rustling leaves of ubiquitous trees, which sound like rain even when the sun's drying everything off.

We've been having a lot of fun, cooking, catching up, museuming and eating delicious meals. Marjan and I kayaked through the canals for a few hours on Sunday up north a little in Waterland. We parked the kayaks at a tea garden for some tea and cake about halfway. The whole time I was amazed at how "perfect" everything is. I don't think I have ever been to a place so manicured. The houses are all different, so it's not like the wacky manicured look of our new age of cookie-cutter, tract housing. Here it feels simultaneously cute yet strange. What makes perfect perfect, and when is perfect too perfect? All super picturesque in any case.

For dinner we met up with Nico to eat Thai food, which I haven't had since I was last in California. Red coconut curry, mmmm. We took a detour on the way home to stroll through the red-light district, where apparently there are guided tours. I suppose that is obvious, but it is a pretty funny sight: one tour leader showing off a window full of spiffy condoms or elaborate dildos to 10 some odd pot-bellied tourists donning cameras and hats and, yes, even Hawaiian T-shirts.

Museums here are amazing, though overfull. I think the only way to enjoy them is to take the audio tours. The stories they give, for example, of Van Gogh's life and the history surrounding certain works whisk you up out of the crowd. Informative and moving, the audio slows you down so you can enjoy each piece a little more, with less sensitivity to the big heads that inevitably and frequently block your view.

1 comment:

Elena said...

Sounds like a lovely visit. Heather, I know I've said it before, but I absolutely enjoy reading every word that you write. You're an artist, really. Hugs - Hasta Octubre!!


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