Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Amsterdam, Day Three

Woke up four hours later to force some breakfast down my throat and say bye to everyone. They were all going home, like I was supposed to before they asked me to attend a meeting in Paris on Monday. That meant an extra day in Amsterdam, could’ve been worse.

Got an early start and went to Richts Museum (which means riches, as in cultural riches) with friend who only had 2 hours. Learned all about the history of the country, the ion at the center of so many global issues. It’s amazing how influential such a tiny area has been. Rembrandt blew me away. Damn, he was good!! No one could compare.

Met up with Aimee, who was staying one more night, and went to the Anne Frank House. It was about the same size as my apartment. There was a chart to show how the girls had grown, just like my dad did. Made me realize that a) they had been there for 2 years, which is a long time, and b) they were a family.

Otto Frank ran a spices company, which shows the deep roots Holland still had to the spice trade (remember the Dutch East India Company)? They were arrested in August. Some of them made it to October, some December. The Mom died in February, the Sister in March. Anne had no one left, and died in April. The camp was liberated in May.

They had a moving video with Otto Frank, her father. He know she kept a diary, everybody did. She was a passionate writer. She asked them not to read the diary, and they didn’t. It was kept safe by a receptionist during the war. When he finally read the diary, he said it was a completely different Anne than he remembered, such bug thoughts she had never shared. He said, “it goes to show that most parents don’t really know their children.”

Took a long walk after that, trying to find new places in the city. Couldn’t find a cheap lunch spot for the life of me and started to get starving. Settled on the first place I saw and ordered a hamburger. The Dutch hamburger is four pieces of freshly grilled beef on top of 2 pieces of French bread with lettuces, cucumbers, carrots, and other fresh veggies and mayo. It was amazing! Had it with an orange fanta and was very happy.

Went to the main shopping area and bough black socks, because I had run out. Heller boys can never have too many socks. I wanted to buy gifts, but all that crap was so expensive. There was nothing purple or penguin related for Lilah, and I knew I’d get shit for getting Jack a $20 Amsterdam tee with a pot leaf on it (but it would have looked so cool on him!). Harley, I swear to God I looked all over for a gift, but we both know how that turned out (not good).

Bought a lighter for an entire euro and went to a coffeeshop. Lesson learned: always check the lighter before you buy it! Tried to get in touch with the London guys, who were there till 7pm. But they were all the way across town, and I was exhausted. Went back to the hotel and had an awful nap. I was lonely and missed my family. I was all alone and wasting the day in the hotel.

OMG - the TV was terrible. There were 5 channels, 3 of them in Dutch. Dutch is the ugliest language on Earth. I tried to watch a show about soccer and get a sense of the culture, but it was hard to listen to. Off putting, actually. The only options we had were to switch between the Travel Channel and BBC News. The Travel Channel had a show about hiking. Hiking, for real. This woman went around hiking and meeting people who had spent the last 6 months hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. BBC News it is! Did you hear about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi getting it in the face? I got to watch the entire thing, live. I get some rest listening to Rift by Phish.

I get in touch with Aimee again, and we plan to go out for dinner together. Feel better now. We meet up in the lobby so I can check email. We meet this couple, who turn out to be Beth Hart, a successful R&B singer who tours Europe 8 months out of the year. Aimee knows her and talks to them while I check emails and drank my Grolsch. FYI, Grolsch is awful.

I finish my last joint on the walk to dinner. We pick what looks like a local place, very pub like. I get a beer and order the pork kebab (don’t ask me why), while Aimee gets the soup. I start fading before the food comes. I get my meal and I can’t eat it. Literally, I can’t force it down. Aimee lets me try her chicken soup, and the next thing I know it’s gone, wolfed down by a tired and stoned Jew in Amsterdam.

Back to the hotel, I pack and go to sleep at 9am to prepare for the 5am wake up call so I make the 6:16am train to Paris. I wake up to barrage of texts from Brian with updates on the Giants/Eagles game. Good brother, Brian! Sounds like I missed the game of the year, but at least we won.

Listened to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory 3 times in a row on the train. Paris was freezing, and I had 2 hours to kill. Went from café to café getting delicious coffee waiting for the team from London to show up. They do, and we go to an office park outside the city.

Have the meeting, where I manage to say 3-4 smart things about a project I know very little about. I'm the token American on the team. We then take the cab back to Garde Nord and then to the airport. I am so excited to be going home. Have a final meal and bye European chocolate (on the company of course) and settle in to the plane. I watch The Hangover and laugh my ass off. We land at 9:30pm local time, 3:30am my time.

The story ends with me exactly where I wanted to be, on the sofa, holding Jack, sitting next to Harley, who's holding Lilah. The End.

1 comment:

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