Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saturday Fun with Heather and Troy

On Saturday we squished into our car with Heather and Troy and made the trek to Amsterdam. It is only a little over 2 hours away and I tend to forget how beautiful the city really is. The sex and drugs stereotypes are much too is a gem of a city and has so much to offer. This trip was fun and fulfilling, but also left me anxious to return to see the Van Gogh museum, the flower market, the beguinage, and just to poke around even more! Maybe Connor and I will have to toodle up for a mother-daughter day sometime this summer!
We arrived and were flooded with reminders of how Holland has to be hands-down the bicycle capital of the world. There were disco ball bikes, bikes built for kids to stand right on the front, bikes built for FOUR, and even a heart bike...

Near the train station is the biggest "bike parking lot" I have ever seen. It is sort of like an ant hill of bikes crawling all over each other and taking up every available square inch of space. How would one ever find a particular bike in this mish mash? And are there REALLY that many Amsterdam bikers who have taken the train somewhere? Could it be?
We wandered through Dam Platz and were starving for lunch with this sunshiney day smiling down at us. Kirk and I knew we wanted to steer our crowd away from the hard core tourist area and closer to the Anne Frank House where we both seemed to recall some more local, authentic eats. And we were psyched when we found this charming cafe literally poised on a bridge overlooking the canal. The food was delicious and not at all pricey. We sat and enjoyed great conversation, great people-watching, and even my busy Connor seemed to settle in for a meal in relative peace. She did build a "train" out of the cafe chairs near the end and coaxed Kirk into several rounds of "Ring around the Rosey," but hey, I love to see her creativity at work.With bellies full we strolled through the must-see areas of the Anne Frank house and the Red Light district. It is always alarming and jolting to see all that is exposed and out there - and all positioned encircling an old brick church. Golly gee. It all leaves me speechless. Kirk kept Connor behind. She doesn't need any of that exposure!

We did find a local farmers market of sorts. Heather treated us all to cherries (it is the height of the season) and we even stumbled upon a playground in the middle of it all for Connor. The market was not just food, but trinkets too. I loved the old buttons and knobs. And I even found - with Troy's help - Kirk's upcoming bday present...this wooden corkscrew from the 70s which not only screws in, but also screws out with carved twists and turns. (K's bday just passed, I am that delayed in my blog entries - so I didn't spoil a surprise)
I loved exploring Amsterdam with Heather and Troy. Heather is an architect and Troy sells 18 wheelers to major corporations for a living (too cool - he loves cars!) Their hobbies as well as their professions just make them exciting and enjoyable friends. You know the people who are just always interested and therefore interesting? That is them. I can only imagine the architect calculations going through Heather's mind as she saw the distinctive leaning, narrow Amsterdam canal buildings. And Troy just loved the bikes. They own a bike built for two they ride together all over Oakhurst and Troy was determined to get an Amsterdam bike bell for it, which we found! Ring, ring!A short trek back to Brussels and I hunkered down with Connor while Kirk took our guests out on the town to experience Brussels at night and to go to "Delirium Cafe" - the fun, funky nearby bar which touts having over 2,000 beers on the menu! The Brussels Jazz Festival was in full swing all over Brussels. There were 125 free concerts in different squares and parks all weekend. They caught one in the Grand Place. Looks like the place to be!

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