I’ve been here since Thursday last week and it has been a total trip. Everything is weird or fun or cool. My first day I napped for three hours because I didn’t really sleep on the plane. Then when I woke up, I went for a little walk around Vondelpark in the rain. It was romantic. There were tons of people around with their dogs and bikes. I was hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything and drank a bunch of my friend’s boyfriend’s tea so I went to this bar where this hot server with a bun was nice to me. The servers here are cool and not overly obsequious to you because they aren’t tipped.
After I went to the restaurant and had a Negroni and I met up with my friend who I am staying with, Terry, her boyfriend, Jake and her friend Amy, at Foodhallen which is this upscale looking food market in this bigger mall-movie theatre deal. It was sweet. We just walked around everywhere and I got pork buns and spring rolls and this good beer and we all shared our food and chatted about our lives and caught up on everything we missed because I hadn’t seen Terry in years. They talked about their jobs and how they all seemed to be enjoying living in Amsterdam.
There’s this little kid at the restaurant that I’m at that has the bluest eyes and the curliest, cutest hair and his face is so sweet. Parents don’t stop their lives to have kids here, they just take them to bars and restaurants and let them run loose and watch the show. It is entertaining. That’s how I want to be as a parent, just watching my kids do dumb shit accidentally. This dad just keeps grabbing him and playing with him. The food here is great, I can hardly deal.
After Foodhallen, we came home and drank tea and talked which was a common theme for chilling at Terry and Jake’s. He makes black tea and she made ginger and lemon and honey tea for our sore throats. They have these new, cool Macbooks that are grey and matte and smaller.
I slept soundly that night. Then I got up on Friday and Terry went to work so I chatted with Jake for a bit before I left and walked to Jordaan, this chill area that my sister lived in when she went to school here. So I was supposed to fill up my tram card, get an adaptor that I could use at my Airbnb and also buy a sim card for my phone. The tram card charging machine was broken, the sim cards confused me and I bought the wrong charger from this computer repair shop because the guy working there was chatty and fun. Note to my future self or kids, just buy a USB charging thing which would have worked fine. So I walked to Winkel 43 where I had the most delicious apple tart thing with whipped cream on it and a latte. I didn’t even put sugar in my latte. They’re pretty much famous for this apple tart, which is an amazing thing to be famous for. It was all so good and I didn’t get sick of it even though it was this big ass piece of pie and like completely covered in this whipped cream they use from an actual whipped cream machine. They just let it run over these plates of pie like those industrial milk machines they have at university food halls. But it’s whipped cream.
Then I went to Cafe Thijssen and got a piece of bread and some tomato soup with basil in it which sounds pretty basic but was good. The best part of it was watching this server behind the bar telling off a tourist for telling them off for taking too long to serve him his tuna sandwich. I’ll never understand because it’s too nuanced for me but he didn’t want to pay for it because he said it took them half an hour to make. The server literally pulled up the receipts and was like, well actually, it’s been 15 minutes, so please relax, man. He made a good point for himself and why they shouldn’t have to comp the bill. They even offered him a free drink and to box it up for him but the was was like, what am I gonna do with a free drink, I have some boring museum shit to go to. I can appreciate a server who stands up for themselves.
Also servers just take their breaks at the bar, sitting and eating around everyone else (me). They check their phones while they’re serving and sometimes, the restaurant’s app is on their phones so they have to use them while serving. It’s genius. Why doesn’t everywhere operate as efficiently as Amsterdam does? Everything is progressive and cool and we’re all just lagging behind in their wake.
I got an aperol spritz and a latte at the place that I’m at now because I’m living my best life like Oprah. I’m also trying to stay here as long as humanly possible and feel weird about not having a drink so I’ve peed a thousand times since I sat down. It’s okay, I asked these kids’ dads to watch my stuff (this journal and my aperol spritz).
After I left the Jordaan neighbourhood area I walked to this museum called Electric Ladyland that I probably could have figured out was closed for renovations, but because I’m easily distracted and probably saw a duck somewhere, I lost focus and didn’t realize. My alternative plan was to walk into a random dispensary/smoking cafe and buy some pot that I didn’t even end up smoking. That’s the weird thing about Amsterdam, people think it’s all about the Red Light District and smoking weed, but no one actually does those things regularly. And if they do, they’re subtle and don’t act all touristy about it like I did. I walked back to Terry and Jake’s with the pot burning a hole in my pocket but they weren’t home so I just took a nap. Naps featured heavily on this trip because I walked all day and am in poor physical shape.
My plan was to shower and get dressed (lol, as if) and to go to a museum quickly before filling one of the 3 one person reservations I made at Michelin starred restaurants (or restaurants recommended by my rich sister.) Being this alone and independent is exhausting. The restaurant I most wanted to visit, probably because it’s called RIJKS in all caps and I didn’t know how to pronounce it properly, called and mentioned that their power was down so they would be featuring a more limited menu. They generously offered to reschedule my reservation (must have been tough to move a 1 top to a separate 1 top on a different night) so I was off the hook. I rejigged my schedule and watched Netflix until I left for the night.
I walked through Vondelpark again, which never got old, and maneuvered to the museum district where I easily located the Van Gogh museum because it was obvious as shit. Terry and Jake asked if I wanted to meet them at a comedy show later that night so I processed this invite while looking at fancy post-impressionist art. I learned about how Van Gogh was Dutch but wrote long letters to his brother in French (weird) and how he cut off his ear while having a fight with his BFF, Paul Gauguin (dramatic and weird). Van Gogh spent all of spring trying to convince Paul to come to this artist’s retreat at his house in Arles in the South of France so they could paint and be artistic together. Paul kept being like “No, dude, it’ll be weird and you’re so intense.” But Van Gogh insisted and Paul finally gave in but they spent the entire summer basically cussing each other out and making fun of each other’s art whenever they could until Van Gogh threatened to kill Paul then himself and Paul was like “Whoa, you need to relax. I’m gonna go for a walk to get away from you so we can BOTH calm down.” And then Van Gogh just cut off his own ear then gave it to a lady of the night who worked at a brothel he would go to with Paul. There were some hallucinations and a lot of mental illness there that I wasn’t clear about but that was the gist of it. Who knew? Learning new things about Van Gogh every day.
After this huge Van Gogh epiphany, I scooted through the rest of the museum sort of preoccupied with the ear story but then was caught off guard by how much I loved the gift shops (plural). There were multiples. And they all included coasters and prints and erasers with the Sunflowers and Starry Night and all the self portraits on them. Always judge a museum by its gift shop. In the case of the Van Gogh museum, this gift shop was a highlight. Next time, I may just go there and avoid the deeply unsettling personal epiphanies I had while learning about Van Gogh’s depression and mania.
After I left, I waited for a bus to the comedy show in the rain for a while then got there and saved us seats. Heineken is like 2.50$ for a pint there so it was all I drank pretty much. It was fun being there and meeting all of Terry’s cool friends from work. One girl’s job is to just be a trend-observer. After the comedy show, Terry and Jake locked up their bikes and we went to a champagne bar and drank a bunch of cocktails and champagne before walking home. Jake made a cheese, bread and cracker plate with this Swiss cheese he brought from his farm at his parents’ house and we chatted until 3am. They were the best hosts. I slept soundly again that night.
The next day I got up with Terry, who had the day off and we walked around because the trams were running weirdly at that point. We went to the Pipe, a type of shopping district with a big market and we ate all the important and terrible for you Dutch food. Like Poffertjes (pronounced Potffert-jizz. No it isn’t.) and Stroopwaffels and this spinach and feta Turkish crepe. It was at this point that I faced a deeply upsetting personal setback that I can’t get into because it’s too embarrassing. But after dealing with it like an adult by sharing my crepe with Terry and complaining, we rallied and I bounced back pretty much immediately. Everyday problems can either seem so trivial and dumb on vacation or like you’re going to lose your shit and fall into a tailspin rapidly. I experienced both.
I bought some danishes and then we watched some ducks fight in a pond park. Our plan was to get to the Airbnb to pick up my keys and then to continue the day as usual and only go back to Terry’s when we were drunk and tired and to cab back with all of my luggage.