Saturday, September 17, 2005

The sign says "Canal bus" not "cannabis"

Arose around 9.30am and headed a few blocks north to RembrantPlein (guess-who Square) for breakfast. It was a long wait for "farmer's omelette" and "surprisingly weak coffee", but it filled the hole. I was very absorbed in John Gray's book "Al Qaeda and what it means to be modern", which is disturbing as it is compelling, in its concise analysis of the global political scene.
We circled around for a few hours, allowing Bondi's new Dutch audience to gawk, and browsed at Concerto music-store. I picked up some meaty bones for Bondi at a local butcher, apparently owner of a gigantic mastiff. While sympathetic to Bondi's needs he was pragmatic enough to charge me an arm and a leg (or whatever limb they came from) for the service. In the UK these often came free or for a token price.

At 1pm we returned to the hotel to meet up with some guys from an internet music list that I had been chatting with (and bidding against in internet auctions) since around 1994. Dennis, Sufian and Robert had paid an amazing compliment in travelling some distance from outer Netherlands and Belgium to spend the day with me.

We first walked down to the Rijksmuseum (closed for renovations) and had coffee in a square behind it. I learnt that I had to ask for "Coffee Veerkart"(spelling?) or "wrong coffee" to get something approximating a flat-white ie double-espresso + steamed milk.

Robert pointed out the clouds as Dutch/Flemish clouds that the old masters had painted. Given that they dont seem to move for hours, they're ideally suited to be captured in oils...

We turned back towards the city centre Centrum and took me through a few of the more interesting music stores like Fame and Boudisque. A street protest (against racism) was underway in the main square, but apart from some chanting in the distance I didn't see/hear anything more. This square The Dam added to the river Amstel is what gives the city its name.

After wandering through the very crowded streets of Centrum we took a tourist boat ride via canal and open harbour for an hour or so. The multilingual taped commentary pointed out the short steel fences that line most canals to stop cars from plunging into the water when being parked. Apparently this used to happen at the rate of one/week before the fences were added in the 60s.

It was now close to 7pm, so we dropped Bondi off at the hotel and found a Greek restaurant for dinner. Sadly it was tourist tosh but conversation was great and I bade farewell to them around 9pm so that they could get back home in reasonable time.

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