Thursday, July 15, 2004

Last Sort of Day

Book Sellers on Spui Square 

Today was wear the shoe leather off our feet dayand our last full day in Amsterdam. We walked all the way to the WWII Dutch Resistance Museum, which is about 3 "zones" from the part of the city we are staying at. Of course, distances are all relative, and compared to Houston, this is a very compact city but it was still a bit of a trek. Made a stop at the flea market on Waterlooplein  - this one I gather has been there for decades, if not centuries. Like so many modern day flea markets, it's not longer a thrift shoppers paradise, most of the vendors were selling new goods. Hundreds of T-shirts, caps, belts, bags and ugly made in far East at slave labor wages jewelry. You wouldn't not have known that you were in Holland, but for the fact the T-shirts all had Dutch themes. In Houston it would be cowboys and at the flea market in Paris it would be the  Eiffel tower.  

The War Resistance museum was fascinating, a very slick, multimedia presentation of what it was like in Holland during the Nazi Occupation. Blessedly the information placards were in Dutch and English. However, there were many original letters and scrapbooks, which were only in Dutch. Note to self - must learn to read Dutch!

I so wished that my Father was still alive, he lived through the occupation and perhaps the museum would have spurred him to talk about his experiences - assuming he would have been willing to go. Some of the other visitors were of his generation and were telling their children and grandchildren about their experiences as they walked around. Fascinating ease dropping.

We wimped out and opted for the Trolley on the return trip. Got off at the Dam Square which was in full swing. Street performers, tourists and everywhere the destination sweet smell of pot. I don't think I'll ever smell it again without thinking "Amsterdam".

Street Life on the Dam Posted by Hello 


The Dam Square! Posted by Hello

My Beloved went down for a nap and I hoofed it over to the The Booklet , a small  used book store specializing in English language books.  I found it purely by accident on my way to the Anne Frank Huis.   It's a small, hole in the wall bookstore.  I picked up some new books for the trip home and dropped off some I'd finished.  The owner introduced me to and allowed me to register my leave behinds on her computer.  It will be interesting to see if they find new homes!  I'd first heard about Bookcrossing via a member of the Besty Tacy Listserv, but it had never made off my "gotta look into this" list.  Now it has and I'm glad!  It's like Freecycle for books.  
That evening we meet my cousin - actually he's the son of my cousin, who lives in Amsterdam for drinks. He does employment law for a large corporation.  He took us to an old, style Amsterdam pub where we had much beer and he introduced My Beloved to Bitterballen.
The Dutch have some of the best "borrelhapjes" on the planet, which makes sense since the "borrel hur" is such an integral part of the culture.  We tried to translate borrel hur into English but couldn't.  It's so very Dutch.
I've also finally figured out why everyone speaks to me in English when I address them in Dutch.  It's my accent- I speak Dutch with a distinct American accent so they assume I'm polite tourist who has mastered a few key phrases.  I then answer them back in rapid fire Dutch, which causes them to do a double take and ask me just where I learned to speak the language.
It seems most of the Dutch speak English but few Americans speak Dutch.

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