Sunday, October 25, 2009

Manhattan Arrives in Amsterdam:



My great friend Rich is in town visiting from NYC–it's nice to show my city to people who don't live here. Today, while sitting next to a canal near Café Letting–my new most favorite breakfast spot in all of Amsterdam–that even has soy milk for their cappuccinos (and pancakes with maple syrup!). Perfection. But while sitting on the side of the canal–Keizersgracht to be exact–the stories started to come out to Rich: '...and the more elaborate your gables, the more money the world thought you had, and thus displayed your wealth and importance to the city and its visitors...'

Really–I should start charging people for these tiny bits bits of random facts about the city, or at least write them down sometime. I'm sure a publisher would pick that up. I like playing tour guide–but it does get to be exhausting. Especially when you have to teach people all the rules for the bike lanes, and all the other subtle cultural differences that come with the city of Amsterdam. But I don't mind sharing–and it's nice to have someone to spill everything that's happening in your life with at this moment to, and hear what's happening in theirs. And then–just like that–they're off on a plane to the other side of the world.

It's nice to have those friends that–no matter how much time passes between seeing each other–because the next time you do, it will be just like it was yesterday. I've had so many friends come visit me in Amsterdam this year–it's kind of insane–but most are just passing, or have passed by, for a day or so only. Now that I've lived here enough to know een beetje meer Nederlands (a bit more Dutch)–it's fun to show off my Dutch skills to all my friends, and try not to chuckle when they try to read signs and menus, and completely slaughter the Dutch language. Today I even made it through a whole 'restaurant-ordering-yes two coffees. Thank you, het was heel lekker, can I please pay' ('Mag ik de rekening'?) transaction, at Café Letting.

I have acquired a book called 'Jip en Janneke' (Update, February 2011: Jip & Janneke is not an exciting way to learn Dutch; it's just embedded in Dutch culture, so that's why everyone tells you to buy it–save your Euros for something else, like this) at a market this weekend. It's a famous kid's book series in the Netherlands. And Disney actually just bought the copyrights to the books, and plans on turning 'Jip & Janneke' into a cartoon. Of course they are. I had my first Dutch lesson last monday. The second is tomorrow night. And this book is going to increase my Dutch skills from baby Dutch–to kids Dutch–with the help of my lessons too. I hope. And lots of practice. Oh yes, and time. I have been wanting to learn Dutch ever since I first moved here.

The time has come, and it will be so nice to interact with the people around me on a whole new level. Rich and I have been trying to make it to the Rembrandthuis–but we're both incredibly distracted by all the oddities, familiarities, surprises and fun that the city unfolds–so instead of the Rembrandthuis, today we did make it to the Hortus Botanicus. Though officially just 'De Hortus'. Basically the conservatory of Amsterdam. It was beautiful. And they even have a butterfly garden, too.De Hortus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world–and is famous for its collection of Cyads–or so I'm learning. Basically they're plants that were around back in the days of dinosaurs–and before flowering plants decided that they needed to be the dominant plant form in the world. They pretty much all basically look like some form of a palm tree.

At the moment, I'm lying on my rug in my living room–staring out at the clouds rolling by–it's quite windy today in Amsterdam–so they're rolling especially fast. When people come to visit me they always want to do as much as possible in their brief stay. Completely understandable, but right now I just need a break. and as the six hour time change has finally caught up with the Manhattanite–aka sleep–it is time for a me to sit back and relax, read a good book, or at least pretend to, while I stare out my window at the clouds above. It was perfect.