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Category: Amsterdam

my Amsterdam, January 12, 2013‏

Rusland and the Kloveniersburgwal

“right across from those two bridges”

Amsterdam, Holland

________

upon reaching our rented apartment after
our cab crawl through the Friday night
streets of bustling Amsterdam, hemmed
in and harried wherever we went by its
canals, bikes and rickety cobblestones,
all festooned in the neon glitter of, at
seven already of a November evening,
its multicolour nightlife, I looked around
to get my bearings, we found ourselves
on a little lost street standing on uneven
ground in the darkness between a row
of doors and some water

up the short street, as I looked around,
a bridge crossed from our street over
the stream that passed before our
lodgings, and on the other side of that
bridge another crossed another canal
that ran perpendicular

in my mind cobblestones, canals and
bridges incontrovertibly led to fairy
tales, around me I foresaw, in the
pregnant darkness of our secluded
street, adventure, and I would be
its Alice in Wonderland

and verily there appeared, as though
like magic, right across from those
two bridges, two coffee shops and a
restaurant, my two essentials, nothing
else but moonlit buildings, otherwise
only bicycles loomed, and the
occasional pedestrian

of the two coffee shops I chose the
one that was the least pretentious,
seemed to me the least a nightspot,
though it had its own smoky den at
the back, as it turned out, where they
did indeed serve coffee, made friends
with Francesco and Danielo the first
night, who were easy and engaging,
as they rolled me some take-out coffee,
little trumpets of the best, of course,
Columbian, or something, enough for
a couple of days

further up the further street a neon
sign read “Radisson“, which was
perfect, we wouldn’t have to look
for dinner, a noted hotel is always
an excellent place to find fine fare

and that night that’s all we wanted

we weren’t disappointed, the room
was nigh empty, the service right, and
the delicacies good enough to come
back for seconds, which we did

later as we walked home churchbells
rang the late hour, soon, they tolled, Read the rest of this entry »

my Amsterdam, December 29, 2013‏

Amsterdam 071

The Amsterdam Canal Apartments

___________________

our trip from Bruges to Amsterdam was
circuitous, instead of a direct, unimpeded
journey, something that, incredibly I
thought, wasn’t even up for sale between
these two significant cities, we were made
to change trains in both Antwerp and
Rotterdam, with too long a wait at one,
and too short at the other, too brief to
tote comfortably our luggage there
such an inconvenient distance

I perspired, Mom worried about my heart,
not to mention my irascible impatience

Amsterdam Centraal was a replay of the
fall of Saigon, but with just a little bit more
order, a cab driver took our bags and crept
along the overflowing Friday night streets
and their contiguous, oddly moderating
canals, placid, constant, immutable, to
our, as they say in Europe, pied-à-terre

only a walk away from the train station,
I gathered, not carrying our luggage of
course, about the spot where the driver
dropped us off, the rest of the pertinent
city must be consequently nearby, I
supposed, as indeed it was

the driver put our bags on the
cobblestones, he’d driven up one
side of the canal, crossed a bridge
and returned along the one way
other, and stopped before our
own gingerbread house
, scrunched
up between several others, our host,
the owner’s representative, who’d
been waiting on the stoop later than
our proposed arrival hour was gentle,
gracious, efficient and helpful, but
spoke essentially maybe seven words
of English, just Spanish, being from
Venezuela, and Dutch

could we blame him

would we expect our host to speak
Dutch in Canada if we couldn’t speak
its English, I asked Mom, who’d, out
of surely the day’s distress, I decried,
was resorting to peevish indignation

I enunciated all of my concerns
throughout to our ever attentive squire,
repeated my words carefully, spoke
them ever louder, one by ardent one,
pointed, spread out my arms, became
a back-up act performing grandly my
own instructions

all, I commend, were met eventually
unimpeachably

let me help change the beds, I offered,
he’d had to set up for a mother and son
rather than the more connubial pair he’d
expected, no, he replied, or something
similar that I could comprehend, and
wouldn’t hear of it in any language

he gave us the keys, after which we
could rest, and did, until two days later,
not including nearby dinners, of course,
out

the place was what you would expect
of a gingerbread house, beams, uneven
corners, but spotless and ready to take
on our colours, long instead of wide, a
Dutch particularity, with all the up to the
minute conveniences

there was however no bath, but a
generous shower stall I could easily live
with, and gloriously did for that month

outside a few cars were parked by the
barges, homes some of them, along the
canal, another canal ran perpendicular
to it away from us between two rows of
houses lined each with their tree, also,
incidentally, their garbage, but that’s
another story

it was night already, everywhere street
lights twinkled, as did their glistening
reflections on the onyx water

on the quarter hour church bells rang

dreams, they tolled, and told over and
over again, were possible

Richard

my Amsterdam, November 7, 2013‏

    Canal in Amsterdam - Claude Monet

                                      Canal in Amsterdam(1874) 

 
                                          Claude Monet
 
                                                 ____
 
 
in the morning we sit by the large
paned double windows that frame
the masterpiece that sits before our
eyes, beyond a little cement and
wrought iron bridge that crosses
our canal another canal runs 
perpendicular and away from us
between a row on either side of 
trees, their leaves pale yellow
mostly, from late fall, with patches
here and there, like incidental
brushstrokes, of less vivid, or
weathered, if you like, greens 
 
cobblestone paths along either bank,
charming but precarious, serve
pedestrians, cyclists in their dozens,
and the occasional adventurous car 
willing to tackle the more lackadaisical
pace and unpredictability of bicycles,
people and everywhere watery
roadblocks, Renaissance gingerbread
houses hold the fort on either side of
the canvas, geometrically ceding to,
and doing a master class in,
perspective
 
in the distance, of course, the obligatory
steeple, infallably sounding on the quarter
hour
 
   
this morning a flight of what looked
to me like doves, so I’ll call them
doves, to touch up anyway with white
and peaceful thoughts my story, cast
magic by fretting in flocks vertiginously
between the parallel lines of trees, just 
ahead of our front row seats   
 
a symphony, I said to my mom, though
for the birds it must’ve been tumultuous,
a  rash, maybe, anthropomorphismbut
their tumult has only ever translated for
me as immutably grace
 
people were taking pictures with their
smartphones, whirling skyward to the
avian poetry
 
we counted our blessings as we 
breakfasted on coffee, bread and
cheese  
 
 
later we’re off to the Rijksmuseum 
to witness other visual wonders
 
 
Richard