Amsterdam: Special

October 04, 2010 By: nooccar Category: Travel

Dan and I were discussing graffiti in European cities since Joe and I had shot a lot of it in Florence last city, and Dan mentioned that Madeline liked the work of local graffiti artist Laser 3.14. He tags with political poetry, and I immediately was hoping to find something of his while here. Tonight (after the last blog post) we caught the tram to Cafe Loetje, which has the best steak I have ever eaten, literally. Seriously. OMG it was wonderfully awesome. The service was terrible but we had a couple De Koenicks (from Antwerp), the steak, frietes (with mayo!), and a sticky toffee taart, and this was wonderfully yummy. On the way back, we were discussing the best way to walk back and while Madeline wanted to go one way, Dan wanted another and then said “well, if we’d gone that way, we would’ve missed the Laser here”. And points up at the scaffolding with the graffiti on it. The top edge (and part of his signature) was cut off but I was totally stoked. Here’s my shot! Now I also know what it looks like to search out more as I walk the city.


Amsterdam Day 2, or the day of the longest bike ride

October 04, 2010 By: nooccar Category: Travel

This morning I didn’t roll out of bed until 11am. I threw myself awake when Madeline arrived home from Paris; I said hello, got a shower and became coherent. Madeline told me about a free walking tour at 1:15pm that I figured I’d try to make to get an understanding of what is where. This city’s orientation confused me today and I kept getting turned around. I had about 45 minutes until the tour so I jumped on the bike and headed into the city. It was a different bike today that had a baby seat that worked well for my messenger bag, but the front rim was totally crooked which made it hard to steer straight. After riding for about a half an hour I realized I was totally lost. My map doesn’t include exactly where they live since it’s so far out so I couldn’t figure out where I was. I kept going the ways I thought would get me where I meant to be but that really didn’t work out. I was as far off as Oosterpark at one point but then made it to Waterlooplein where they had a flea market. This was somewhere I knew from last night so I locked the bike since I was already way late for the free tour.


I walked Waterlooplein flea market, shot it, and browsed around. I checked out City Hall, shot along the Amstel River, and then walked up to Rembrandt’s House. Dan let me use his Museumkaart that gets you into most of them for free. Rembrandthuis was pretty cool and the audio tour was free with purchase. After biking for 90 minutes I was really thirsty and laughed when the water in the bathroom sink was looking so refreshing. After the museum, I saw the souvenir shop with a lady I knew who spoke English. I bought a water, a shirt for my dad, and a post card. After that I grabbed the bike outside the Litzst House and was considering going to the Anne Frank Huis but realized it was in Jordaan and plan to go there tomorrow.

Sometimes you need to look up. Here’s the front of Rembrandt’s House

Venors at Nieumarkt

Next up was biking to Weeg where they had the old weighing house. This is where we parked the night before and the great microbrew was there. I grabbed a bock beer there and had a mini-souffles lunch before walking back through Chinatown towards Museum Amstelkrig (Our Lord in the Attic) which is a regular canal house that hid a small Catholic church in the attic during the protestant movement in the 1600s. The Museumkaart worked here but the guy did tell me I had about 10 minutes to see the museum since they closed at 1700.


This museum was at the edge of the Red Light District up a canal from the Hemp Museum and Oude Kerk (Old Church), so I walked the Red Light and one of the ladies opened her door; I smiled and moved quickly down the road. The Hemp & Harijuana Museum was 5euro for a pretty small single leveled room about the use of hemp overtime. I wasn’t actually expecting anything wild but I was expecting more than I saw there.

Poster in the Hemp Museum


After that I walked the canals and took some photos of the leaves changing and falling into the water along with sinking boats and rusted bicycles. From there I grabbed the bicycle and figured out exactly how to get back. My first landmark I needed was Mittetouren (Mint Tower), from there I headed back south and got home very quickly.

Check out the sign in the window


Amsterdam Day 1, or look at the cute gay couples and their adopted daughters

October 03, 2010 By: nooccar Category: holidays, Travel

Landed at Schipol International Airport about 630am here in Amsterdam. I sat next to a quiet Dutch woman and tried to sleep quite a bit. I probably didn’t sleep more than three hours and I did watch Prince of Persia (I’d wanted to watch Karate Kid but I pushed the wrong channel). After a really easy trip through customs Dan and his daughters, Liliane (4) and Amelie (3), were waiting for me. We hopped into their Peugot wagon/mini-suv thingy and headed to their flat/apartment in south Amsterdam. Everyone got more ready for the day and we headed out to some old school seaport villages while Dan was off work for Sunday. (Madeline, his wife, is in Paris for the weekend and returns tomorrow).

Liliane and Amelie kept me busy and will help me get my little girl fix while I am away from Claire this weak. Our first stop was an ATM for me outside Hilton Amsterdam where John Lennon and Yoko Ono did their sleep-in before we headed to Marken, a small fishing village that originally was not connected to the main land at all. We walked the village, shot some photos like the boats below, and then walked back to the car.

Next we stopped at Monnickedam just because they’d never been there. They had a great kid park and the girls got to play for as long as they wanted for a euro per person. I had a koffie and Dan drank thee while we wanted them play.

It was fun listening to the girls speak good Dutch and good English. Then they’d throw in other words. I also learned that Pos Op means to watch out and Snell means to hurry. I figured they’d know some French (their mother is fluent) but they definitely know the other languages more.

On the way to Vondeldam sleep started to catch up with me and I was out. I woke up when we got there. It’s a small touristy town on the edge of the North Sea inlet. We ate kibberling (Cod) along the water while the girls filled my pockets with rocks they want me to take home to Claire. I also shot some windmills at Zaanse Schans and stopped at two different cheese and clog making shops.


When we got back to the flat, Dan’s friend Oleg called and wanted to meet for beers so we grabbed the bikes and rode from Dan’s place into the city center (centrum). Dan left his mobile at the flat so we couldn’t even call Oleg when we arrived, but the bike ride alone was an adventure. They have four bikes and I chose the one without a kid carrier on it. It also has no bell so I could not warn people I was coming.

After getting to Waterlooplein, we grabbed a beer and decided to do Thai food for dinner. After a scrumptious Pad Thai, Dan walked us through the Red Light District and, yes, Virginia, there are hookers in them thar windows. I had Liliane on my shoulders so I think they figured I wasn’t interested. Actually a few times Dan and I wondered if the tourists were thinking “oh look, Amsterdam is so liberal that an alternative gay family has their two daughters out for the day.)


After our trek through the lights, we jumped back onto the bikes, Dan gave me lights to put on me and my bag, then we rode back to the flat for bed.

All my Bags are packed… or Amster’Dan, here I come

October 02, 2010 By: nooccar Category: Friends, Travel

Over a decade ago my bestfriend, Dan, left our home state of Pennsylvania to begin his professional adventures in Phoenix. A year later during an innocent lunch at Red Robin, he says to me: “When are you moving to Phoenix?” Donna and I glanced at each other, shrugged and moved to the Southwest. After 7+ years in Phoenix, Dan (with his family now) were off for the next adventure, Amsterdam. Surely the family was hesitant because it was harder to see the granddaughters and the friends would miss them, but I was ecstatic. I wanted to visit!

On Superbowl Sunday 2008, Donna, Claire and I dropped Dan’s family off at SkyHarbor International Airport with more baggage than I’ve ever seen carried by two able-bodied adults. We said our goodbyes with promises of visiting and seeing each other soon. That didn’t happen.

Plane fare to Holland never dipped below a thousand bucks a person and there are three of us. We saw them when they headed back to the southwest; I think we’ve seen them in AZ three times in three years. The longest was when they cleaned out their storage and decided to stay in Europe indefinitely. That was February 2010.

Somewhere in late 2009 Donna mentioned off-handedly, “why don’t you just go alone? We can never all afford to go.” (Even though we would LOVE to take Claire to Europe at this age). I hopped at the idea but something always occluded a visit. October 2009 was throat surgery. Spring Breaks are usually professional conference travels. Nothing worked until Fall Break 2010. Yes, yes, why that’s is now. Guess where I’m going TOMORROW? Schipol International Airport, just south of Amsterdam. Yep, I’m gone. Stick a fork in me.

My “gadget” pile of stuff I need to take post-clothes packing.

A Danish visit

January 04, 2009 By: nooccar Category: Friends, Travel

Dan & Madeline moved to Amsterdam in February 2008, and since then I haven’t seen them until today. They called a month ago to say they’d be in AZ around New Year, and we realized our schedule would overlap just for this evening. We flew back from Pittsburgh this morning, got a ride home, picked up the dog, had lunch and watched the Cardinals kill the Falcons before Dan & Madeline got here with dinner.

Their daughters are 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 and Claire’s 3 1/2, so we all figured our house would be better than going out. It was freshly clean since we’d not been here so we quickly agreed for them to bring dinner.

Dan’s an Intel engineer doing an Expat program, and while Madeline’s in Amsterdam she’s picking up another law degree. Lilliane and Amelie are enjoying learning from the nannies and taking in a culture many american children aren’t exposed to at this age. We spoke of family, holidays and work over a nice meal, which was finished with cake and black tea for Dan & I and wine for the ladies. The girls played nicely together after the Mahoney girls realized Claire’s agressiveness was mostly just excitement to have her friends come over. (I know she shouldn’t remember Amelie, but I sure bet she remembers Liilane.)

We talked, enjoyed each other’s company, watch Peyton bite it in HD, and then we all said goodbye so they could head back to the hotel to pack and fly back to the Netherlands tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Me!

November 17, 2008 By: nooccar Category: Friends, holidays

Yesterday I turned 34. It’s not the biggest of birthdays for sure, but it was a nice day. Nothing too wild, and I remember when it’s my birthday more when I am at work on a birthday (not again until 2010). The highlight of yesterday would be when Laura and Emma came to visit. I’ve not seen them since summer of 2007, and they moved away in December of 2006 to Portland. I can’t blame them since it’s so damn brown and dry here, but it sure was nice to see them.

Dan from Amsterdam Skyped with me, Alan from Iceland said hello, I talked to my parents, and I’ve not had a chance to talk to the in-laws yet (my fault).

We had the girls out playing in the backyard all afternoon before giving them a group bath. Laura’s birthday is tomorrow, so we hit Macaroni Grill for a celebration dinner. The Penn Rustica rocked as did the Tiramisu dessert, but the Sangria was nothing to write home about. It was bland, boring and expensive.

After dinner we hit a carnival that was in a local parking lot. Laura wanted to ride the Zipper and I love the Ring ‘O Fire, so we did both. Mind you this was after we gorged ourselves. We were fine until the Ring ‘O Fire person sent us through the ride twice! I wasn’t the same after that.

Laura and Emma ended up staying over last night, so we went to Cracker’s Cafe for breakfast before the drove across town to see other friends. Beautiful mild birthday with some thoughtful gifts from Donna and Claire. Really enjoyable.

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