The old saying that all good things must come to an end is more than a cliché, it's an inevitability, though I've never really understood why. If I'm having fun, I want it to go on forever, or at least until I decide I want it to be over. Been that way all my life. And now this is my last full day in Amsterdam, and I must say it's pretty much made up for the three days of rain which preceded it. The whole day has gone without any major glitch or gaffe on my part; no lost cameras, no endless rides on wrong trams.
I did have one of my little personal revelations this morning, though. As I was having my hummingbird's breakfast, My eyes moved to my lap, and I felt an intense wave of...how to put it?...of longing and loss for the person I once was, am no more, and never can be again. I know that sounds terribly maudlin, and perhaps it is. I know it's certainly unrealistic, but we all know how I feel about reality anyway. It is simply the way I am, the way I have always been, and I'm stuck with it. I do miss me terribly, even while knowing that the me I miss probably never existed as I remember him.
Anyway, as with all waves, it receded and I simply got on with the day.
When you travel anywhere in the world that uses a currency not your own, at the very end of the trip, you must be aware of how much foreign currency you have as opposed to how much you think you'll need. You don't want to run out of whatever currency you're using, but you don't want to be stuck with a lot of money you're not going to be able to use.
That was my predicament this morning. I knew I wanted to go on the canal tour, though I didn't know how much it would be, and I knew I had to pick up a gift for the woman who will be looking after my cat while best-friend Gary meets me in New York for four days, and 40 euros (pretty steep) for a set-fee cab ride to the airport. So I found a bank with an ATM with instructions in more than just Dutch and took out what I thought I'd need.
Having been twice bitten by the weather, I put my new hoodie and that plastic emergency rain parka I used in Kinderdijk in the case in which I normally carry my computer. Caught Tram #21 to Central Station, from where the canal-tour boats leave. 15 euros for an hour-or-so tour. Not bad, and worth it.
I finally saw the kind of Dutch buildings I have always associated with Amsterdam, and learned some interesting trivia. First, I'd never really realized just how narrow most of the buildings are in the photos I'd seen. This is the result of an ages-old law which dictated exactly how wide a house could be; only the wealthy were allowed wider houses. As a result of that, at the top of nearly every narrow house there is a hoist similar to ones seen on barns at home for lifting hay into the hayloft. But these are used for lifting furniture during moves. Because the houses are narrow, the stairways also must be narrow, and they're impossible to carry large pieces of furniture up or down. Therefore, they're hoisted up and brought in through the windows.
The canals are lined with houseboats, many of them converted vessels of one type or another, and many of them are really charming. There are 2,500 houseboats in the canals of Amsterdam, and their number is tightly regulated not to exceed that amount. We passed a large parking garage near Central Station which is for bicycles only...it holds 2,500 (like the houseboats) of them, and they are also parked all around the city by the hundreds and thousands.
And we passed the Ann Frank house. We could see the lines of people for about two blocks before we got there.
Now, a problem for me taking as many photos as I'd have liked is twofold...threefold, actually. First, I was sitting on the right hand side of the boat and people were sitting on, and blocking the view of, the left hand side. Second and thirdly, I can neither lift my head high enough to, say, take pictures of a church tower as we passed, nor can I move my head sufficiently to see to either side of me. So sitting in a seat and trying to get a full range of view is next to impossible. But I managed.
Stopped after the tour to buy the gift, then walked to the Dom through thousands and thousands of people all going about the business of being in Amsterdam. Dom Square is a fascinating place filled with tourists and street performers and horse-drawn carriages and surrounded by stately buildings befitting a major city square.
Caught Tram #14 back to the hotel, stopping at the little diner I'd found when I first arrived on Sunday for another bowl of their wonderful soup. It's pronounced “Flesh”--though I assume it isn't a literal English translation--and it does have some sort of pulled meat that reminded me of chipped beef, which I love, in a creamy broth. With the possible exception of the hazelnut and truffle soup I had in Paris last year, this is surely the most delicious soup I think I've ever had.
And so that pretty much sums it all up for today. I'll be leaving for the airport at noon tomorrow for my flight to New York for four days, which will be an adventure in itself, and you can be sure I'll be reporting on every minute of it, though the blogs may be a bit more spotty. I've enjoyed having you with me on the European portion of the trip, and hope you'll stick with me for New York.
Dorien will continue posting blogs and photos while on the New York leg of his current adventure. You can see the photos on www.doriengreyandme.com...scroll down past the blog. And you're always invited to check out his website at www.doriengrey.com.