Monday, July 16, 2012

07-16-12 Amsterdam, Second Day

Awake at 5 a.m. Again. Damn! Went to the bathroom to take a shower. No wash cloths. Got in the shower, turned on the water, the tub began to fill. Turned the knob under the faucet to open the drain. Nothing. Got out of the shower, went to the phone, called Reception. Told them the problem. They said “Ok.” I got dressed anticipating the arrival of someone to fix the problem. It's 5:42 and I'm still waiting. Ah, well....

My greatest internal weakness in my moment-to-moment existence is twofold: I do not think, and I do not remember that I do not think. I will leave a camera on a tram without taking the time to make absolutely sure I do not have it. I invariably walk out the door without thinking about what I need to take with me, and I have wasted inestimable amounts of time either going back for what I've forgotten, or suffering the consequences of not having brought it with me. And the next time I walk out the door, I will do exactly the same thing. And I have been the same way all my life, and it is unimaginably frustrating. But do I learn? No.

I just returned from breakfast. Now, every single morning of my trip, I have taken a photo of breakfast. No reason, I just do it. So this morning, I went to the reception desk to ask when my shower drain might be fixed (and am glad I did, because the young man at the desk is breathtakingly beautiful). I then went to the restaurant for breakfast. I forgot to bring my camera. Jeezus!

And it just keeps getting better. The instruction manual for my new camera Dutch. I downloaded the English version. Fine. Now, the problem is how the hell do I open it? Yet another time when I feel utterly, hopelessly incompetent.

4:06 p.m. and I am back from my day's adventures. Wet, soggy, sodden, soaked, drenched, dripping, and more than a little damp. So would you like to hear about it? On the theory that silence is consent, here it is.

Found the laundromat I'd asked about when I arrived, after a long sent-off-in-the-slightly-wrong-directions trek. Did laundry, returned to the hotel by 11, determined to get to the Rijksmuseum. Day pleasant if a tad cool. I wore my new hoodie. Asked the front desk how to get to the Rijksmuseum, was told to take Tram #7 and where to get it. Got it. Rode. And rode. And rode, looking for some sign saying “Rijksmuseum”...or surely an announcement. Nothing. Finally I approached the money-taker in the car I was in. “How far is the Rijksmuseum?” “We passed it a long time ago.” “Well, then I'll get off and catch a tram in the opposite direction.” “What stop do I get off at?” “We passed it a long time ago.” “Yes, I know, but when I go back, what stop do I get off at?” A shrug.

Amsterdam tram money takers are, I have found (with one exception), surly and totally uninterested in anything you might want or need to know.

Got off at the next stop. Asked a nice young guy at the stop going in the other direction which stop I should get off for the Rijksmuseum. He had never heard of it, but asked a lady next to him and she said to take a Tram #3 (?) and there was a Rijksmuseum stop there.

Finally made it. Had to cross a huge square/park and in doing so passed the Van Gogh museum, which I determined I also wanted to see.

The Rijksmuseum is relatively small, but it makes up for it in sensory overload. Everywhere you look are paintings you've seen all your life, plus amazing pieces of furniture and porcelain and.... As I say, sensory overload.

When I left, it had started to rain, lightly. But I had my hoodie, so it didn't matter. Got back to the Van Gogh and there was a line a block long. I decided to forget it when I ran into Brian and Marilyn from the Prestige, who were fairly close to the entrance, so I joined them. They had been to the Ann Frank house and said there had been an hour-long line to get it. We got separated somehow, and I went to the cafe for something for lunch (a strange fruit drink and a cup of chocolate pudding...a gourmet combination, I know). I was surprised by the volume of his work and, once again, nearly every Van Gogh print you've ever seen has the original painting in the Van Gogh museum.

Raining heavily when I left the Van Gogh. Asked for directions. Tram #2 to Such-and-Such Plein, then walk to So and So street to catch my tram...#14 or #21 (or was it #24)...home. Really pouring by that time; a four block walk from where I got off the #2 to where I hoped to get the #14 or #21 (or was it the #24). A #24 came along, and I took it. (No, it was not the #24 I was the #21.) Fifteen minutes later when I hadn't seen anything I recognized, I got off, waited in the driving rain for a #24 in the opposite direction, and got off at Dom...the Cathedral Square. From there, finally caught a #14 and managed to make it back (which involved another two-block walk in the rain).

But I'm home now. I did not get nearly the number of photos taken I was hoping to. Heavy rain is not conducive to photography. I think I'll have dinner here at the hotel rather than go out again. Guess what? It's raining.

But, hey, I'm in Amsterdam!

Dorien will be posting frequent blogs and photos while on his current European adventure. You can see the photos on down past the blog. You're also invited to check out his website at

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