Saturday, September 08, 2012

Day 11: Dammit, Swedish Food Tastes Good Anywhere

Started off the gorgeous day wandering through Vondelpark, which was filled with people sunning and enjoying the weather.  We walked the full length from east, which was very commercial with trams, shops and busy streets, to the northwest which had more of a gated community, deeply residential feel.

Garden area with hexagonal honeycomb-like hedges holding various plant life

Gazebo surrounded by a moat

Monument outside the gazebo

Afterwards we visited the Begijnenhof (Beguines' Court), a convent-style square right off the Spui - it's located in the first canal belt, so the neighborhood is tall buildings and narrow roads, with pubs and tacky souvenir shops that pack the cobblestone paths, and then you step through a giant wooden door polished by a thousand hands brushing by it, and into this quiet green and blue oasis.


It still houses all women, just like it did hundreds of years ago, though I don't believe it's specifically pious women in direct correlation with the church that anchors it on one side.  Also, the ring of houses contains one of the oldest houses in Amsterdam, one of two houses in the city made entirely of wood that never succumbed to the many fires that led people to build using bricks and masonry.

Oldest house in Amsterdam

The grounds are really peaceful and beautiful - stretches of the grounds are partitioned off, so you can't wander just anywhere, but it's still a nice respite from the rowdy, dark, cramped streets ringing the community.

Open door to the public street area

Begijne woman

Afterwards we spent the day wandering around, riding trams and taking in the sights.  At this point, we had gone a full week without eating anything of any real nutritional value (wurst, bread, and chunks of gouda gets tired quickly), yet didn't want to shell out the 20-30€ per head for a meal (yes, even far from the center).  Amsterdam seem to just be the kind of city where eating out always costs a high amount, either expensive or MORE expensive.  So what did we do?  

We went to Ikea for dinner.

Photo courtesy of  Pretty much what we had.

To be fair, the Ikea was right around the corner from us in the business park that Baz and I wandered into the first night we got there and couldn't find the damn apartment.  Besides, we both dig Ikea (shitty quality and big box mentality be damned) because it gives us the ability to daydream about what our apartment will look like one day when we get the opportunity to live together, which unfortunately isn't in our cards at present moment.  

So we went on a journey to Ikea.  After a mile of walking and wading through a sea of flaxen haired children, we made it to the dining area and decided on salmon with grilled veggies and french fries (gegrillt zalm).  We also realized we were probably one of the few people there who wasn't from Zuidoost, or even Amsterdam, because seriously, what tourist thinks to go to Ikea for goddamn dinner?  Anyhow the poor people behind the counter had to switch their brains over to english when we ordered, and we ended up missing out on some sweet hollandaise sauce as a result, but no worries, since the last thing I needed was more cream/oil/richness in my diet.  

After a blissful dinner of (relatively) real food, with veggies and nutrients and everything, we had some time to kill before heading to the Anne Frank House back in the city, so we walked off our fullness by wandering through the showrooms pointing out stuff we liked - studio room setups, kitchens, wandering through bedrooms connected to closets connected to bathrooms, and seeing that the Dutch really do seem to favor this three-walled shower concept that lacks a curtain or door on the fourth wall, which we noticed in our shower but couldn't determine if it was because the renter was lazy or because it was the style.  Not really my thing (no privacy, plus the whole bathroom is soaking after), but hey whatever, ain't my country.

After falling in love with every wood and metal combo I could find, we scuttled off to make it to the museum by 9pm (museum closes at 10pm in the summer), but due to Ikea's layout being a labyrinth and some bad mass transit karma, we didn't get there until 9:25, which isn't enough time to appreciate everything.  Dejected, we turned back and went back home (practically where we had just come from!) and decided to get an early night in order to do the House in the early morning.

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