Wednesday, April 16, 2014


So here we are for a week in Amsterdam to visit our "besties" the Parker-Davidsons, as they round the corner towards home on their grand tour of the Eastern Hemisphere:

We were so psyched to see them, but first we had to get settled in our apartment in our own Jordaan neighborhood apartment.  We got in from a pretty decent overnight flight on KLM/Delta (many movie choices . . ) and took a taxi from the airport to  where owner Eduard met us and showed us around the place.  We immediately took three hour naps to adjust to the time change, and got motivated after that to check out the neighborhood.  Our first snacks was probably the best apple pie EVER, and then we were ready for a bit of matzah at the Davidson's wonderfully prepared Passover seder.  The kids shared lots of history from the Haggadah with us, Andy led us through the "order", and Karie's yummy brisket gravy covered up the meat / corned beef that the Dutch butcher had given her.  The NYC Goldsteins are usually traveling for Passover, so it was nice to be with good friends this year.

On our second day, we checked out a few highlights of the city - the five of us started with the Amsterdam History Museum and learned about the amazing architecture of the city (built on piles and full of canals), and its pretty cool history (center of trade in the 1600-1700s, standing up against Jewish deportations by the Nazis as much as they could, and being the first European country to legalize gay marriage!)   After that it was lunch and the recently renovated Rijksmuseum with the Davidsons.  Saw the important Vermeers, Rembrandts, etc. from the 1600s, which were cool.  But I have to say that some of my favorite stuff was from the 1700-1800s - largest painting in Museum showing Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, lots of other Napoleon related stuff. (Did you know, Amsterdam was ruled by the French under Louis Napoleon, who ran the once thriving economy into the ground?)  There was also lots of cool stuff from the Dutch control of Java (Indonesia) including all these foil packets used in the opium trade.   We ended up wandering through the De Pijp neighborhood a bit later for Indonesian "rice table" (rijsttafel) with the whole crew.

On day three, we rented bikes from MacBike outside the Centraal Station, and took a free ferry to Amsterdam Noord for a half day self guided bike tour through "Waterland" - It was a perfect sunny day, and we rode along the canals and dikes with yellow flowers everywhere (and at one point hundreds of bugs flying at us along the water's edge.  The tiny villages we passed through were stunningly beautiful, but simple, and it was amazing to think, that they were really not so far from an amazing city center.   We had lunch at the "Schoohuis" in Holystroot, and biked our way back to the ferry, a bit sun-tanned and content.   Dinner for the adults was at Balthazar's Keutchen in the Jordaan - a three course menu with great appetizers and local and fresh ingredients.  Amazingly enough, I ran into one of my iSchool students at the same restaurant on the same night!!  Too funny, but a serendipitous ending to a lovely day!

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