Architecture, bikes, coffee shops, Heineken and freindly hospitality
What a flight!!! From Rio Airport (the most incompetent airport we have seen - good luck for the Olympics!!) we flew with Iberia to Madrid on an old plane, with old abused seats and old sleep deprived air hostess’s. The service was bad, lucky the food (and wine) was good =o)
From Madrid airport (WOW dig this joint recent upgrades gives it 5 stars!) we had a little wait until our connecting flight direct to Amsterdam. Touch down in Amsterdam, no customs?? We pick up our bags in record time and meet Maaike out the front of the exit gate who has come to meet us! The Holland traditional greeting - 3 kisses!!
During our stay in Amsterdam we were kindly hosted by the friendly bogan couple Niels and Maaike whom Neil and Jan (my folks for those who do not know these 2 technological luminary legends!) met in Sri Lanka many moons ago. It had been a couple of years since we had seen them last, 2006 I think, when they stayed in the dungeon at Redhead for a couple of weeks over xmas and celebrated a Belmont yacht club new years with us.
Niels and Maaike are both born and bred Netherlandians about to give birth to their first little bogan boy. We were very appreciative of them letting us call their Oosterpark (10 mins riding stoned or 5 mins walk from central Amsterdam) apartment home after months and months of dorm beds. Plus a recent freaky hostel incident in Brazil sent us over the edge - story to be told at home over a coldy.
After a couple of days recuperation from the RANKEST jet lag to date (surely nothing to do with the 2 day bender we had in Rio before boarding) we are ready to explore with our fun loving hosts. A short walk to a big windmill that brews its own “white” beer (sweet, thick and fruity) on site for a round with Niels and Maaikes’ friends. Things start to get a lil loose after 3 beers - WT are we losing it? Nope the beers are 7% kiddies!!! Thai dinner down the road next then time to board a friends boat for a night cruise of Amsterdam’s canals. Thanks Derrick and Andrea - Champions - WAS SOO GOOD! Magic. No traffic on the water, reflections of 1600’s buildings painted in yellow light and Friday night revellers danced across the water while our brains swam with Dutch beer. YIIPEEE!
We explored the city with Niels and Maaike via pedal power. EVERYBODY rides these classic old thin cruisers in Amsterdam! Except the hip guys that dig the coffee shops - cool cat struttin. Anyway the whole share the road on a bike thing took a little getting use to, look in every direction for scooters, bikes, cars, trams and each other! Watch the tram tracks too - they bite, trust me. Huey put on a show for us - the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny! Blessed.
We took the Valvonator (Neils pretty boy tv-less Volvo) on a couple of spins to nearby destinations. The beach for a glorious sunset and to a nearby park for a jog in an attempt to fight the Amsterdam bulge. The BULGE was contributed by spoilt Jess and Steve apartment glory - Maaike’s many amazing dinners and profitejes cook ups, including the incredibly cool fondue like things with mini concave fry pan thingies. The BEST cheese and bread on tap. Ridiculously cheap beer (AU$16.00 carton 24 Heineken, and Pilsen at AU$12), and who could forget the beloved Melk Chokolade on toast - shaved chocolate on toast - heaven! Jess smashed the back end out of about 7 boxes! Steve slaughtered the cheese, salami and Heinekens! BULGE!
Museums were also on the cards, including the highly cultural and mentally demanding Heineken Museum WOOHOO 3 free beers. But then Maaike fired up the valvonator and took us to the open air Zuiderzee museum, “Land of Water”. Located in the Zuiderzee area is over a hundred premises from the former Zuiderzee area have been brought together in the Museum Park. Some of them are completely fitted out in accordance with the old situation, with the original furniture and utensils. The visitor can also attend demonstrations of old trades in the Museum Park. Just think Holland’s version of Old Sydney Town. And what ever happened to OST - I loved that as a kiddie!
Note: Maaike is an exceptional driver unlike Niels’ erratic, lunatic, master bogan driving which made Jess carsick.
A weekend of relaxation was had at Niels’ parents home in Schagan. They had a lovely cat - Nelson. Dinner with Maaike’s parents was rather nice and so was Niels’ favourite Dutch delicacy by the beach - the slimy raw salty herring - wasn‘t bad!
And yes we did all the obligatory things in Amsterdam. “Relaxed” in the adjacent parks, partied with Maaike n Niels and their friends, loosened the hips up to do Dj Eric da man, rode bikes trying to avoid tourist collisions, fell in love with the architecture, and walked along the red light district.
Our Amsterdam experience was top shelf thanks to Niels and Maaike and their welcoming and hospitable friends (By the way guys how was fat freddys drop?? They’ve just been announced for Byron Bluesfest 2010 WOOHOO!).
Staying in a comfortable home with friends was delightful to say the least. To be spoilt with delicious food, kindness and generosity was the icing on the cake. A warm thanks to Niels and Maaike - for a couple of Dutch bogans you sure know how to make two Aussie boganoids feel at home - love Lord ‘red card’ Bogan and the Chopping Queen.