Friday, November 10, 2017

Last days in Freiburg for now

Hello Friends, 

Went to Ciao Bella and the background music was an “Oldies” station, and was it ever, songs I haven’t heard in years and years, guess that puts me as old… Coming back I saw a poster which said “Let’s RieselRock” it’s a dance being held mid-November at the Glass House, our cultural centre here. I had lunch there the other day and very limited menu but what I had was good, almost the youngest person in the place really. I think from seeing the clientele it’s a place to have a cheap but filling meal and talk with others from the neighbourhood, kind of like the Senior’s group in Madeira Park. There is a sizeable library in there also but no books in English, I asked, they are available downtown but I’ve not investigated. 

We ran into Gunter Zoller our neighbour coming out of the Edeka grocers and he’d been in ordering meat for a later pickup, he was afraid they’d run out by the end of the day. He said it was a zoo in the store and "to be very brave". What we didn’t realize at that moment was it is two days of holiday mid-week not just one. Reformation Day is about Martin Luther’s disputes with the Catholic Church, read about it here

This year is the 500th anniversary and so while the day is usually not a public holiday, only in five German states, this year it is one the whole of Germany, also Halloween, not so much celebrated but getting more so. November 1st is All Saint’s Day, public holiday. So if you took Monday off you would have had a very long weekend, even including the extra hour for the clocks changing back, it’s a week later here than in Canada.

Anyway, about Halloween, the retailers have bounced onto this more and more every year, the change is noticeable. I don’t think the children go trick or treating but they do dress up in costume. Must disappoint them, no school today so they won’t be celebrating with school mates. My first costume was a white bunny rabbit complete with flopping ears (mom’s attempt to make them stand up with wire didn’t quite work) with bobtail and a real carrot. My sister was a panda bear, really cute. Since we didn’t live in a neighbourhood, a few miles to the nearest houses mom drove us around to family friends for trick and treat, fun times. My dad would sit home, curtains drawn, no light to the street, he’d probably eaten all the little candy bars that were bought for the meagre amount of kids we did get, he had a sweet tooth, that time of year was the only one when we had candy bars in the house.

Headed out with Christoph on November 1st, summer like day, really! Even the wasps were out. We were headed here  to Kirschzarten but they were full, had too few wait staff so didn’t have room for us. There was a small chapel at Hofgut Himmelreich, maybe held 20 people at most. 

This little fellow was outside, I don't know who he is....

They recommended Gasthof Adler in Buchenbach so with kitchens on the verge of being closed we headed there, Great food, great service, they allowed us to sit outside, inside was too stuffy and on such a gorgeous day it was lovely to be out. 

This town and the previous one are on the edge of the Black Forest and the house architecture shows it, low slung roofs, balconies covered in flowering window boxes. There was a church next to it but we couldn’t/wouldn’t go in due to a service being held for All Saint’s Day. Many old brick or stone buildings and one hotel with more windows than walls, it is a hotel, looked a bit like a doll house to me. Several small churches which Christoph said likely belonged to families. 

Cultural differences even within Canada, a friend from Ontario thought it nice to plant what we consider weed. An acquaintance I worked with bought a house with a lawn and told me she had no idea what to do with it, never having done so, apartments were all they’d known.

We’ve had some calamities in the house recently. I broke the glass portion of the Bodum coffee pot, thought it was tempered glass but guess not, they do sell replacement glass so bought one. Bruce left a simmering pot on the stove of beef broth until it turned black, I took it off and put it on the counter top, which put a circle of discolour on the top. All my scrubbing couldn’t get the pot clean, buy a new one, we’ll need to get a counter expert in to fix that and could mean replacement of the entire counter, ouch, or maybe they can resurface it. Thought that counter was indestructible too, apparently not. We bought ginger ale, Bruce likes it and although not opened, leaked into the storage cabinet we put it in, about half of it, real mess, cleaned up. So they say things come in three’s and we’ve had ours, thank you very much. 

Saturday and there is a football match going to happen, how do I know? Most everyone is wearing either red or blue scarves with team logos on them, and that’s all I know or care to about football in Freiburg or anywhere else for that matter. When the fans do come they come from other towns and the downtown is crowded, Christoph drove in to town to meet us and encountered traffic jams and trouble parking. We ate German food (Gasthaus Zum Lamm) under the horse chestnut trees, next to the statue of the crocodile in the bachle.

Waiting for the train to Frankfurt was cold! Time to leave!

Here are four, yes four pictures of a sunset we had in Freiburg, they are at the end so you can skip them if you wish but they are each different quite strikingly I think so that's why I am including them.

Next post is coming to you from Sevilla, warmer here for sure!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Staufen and ...

We went to Staufen, been before, it’s a pretty little town, quite touristy, but it's a town we like. Had an excellent lunch at Fauststube Löwen pictures are good in the link and there is an English button.

Now that's a roof! It's the top of the Rathaus or City Hall
Pretty statue in the main square, red building is the restaurant and guest house.
Little bird on a chair, happens frequently.
Another frog, this one with a crown, Christoph in the background
What is it with this area of Germany and statues of frogs? The restaurant had multiples of them too and my previous post had them in the store. 

Most of the grapes are harvested now, the patches of red grapes can clearly be seen amongst the green ones, the leaves are bright red. The corn fields are cut, there are still flowers in the “pick your own” places which are colourful to see.

We’ve been downtown most days last week and that is great but sometimes it just feels good to stay close to home. Finally we have an appointment for the trees to be picked up, that took three phone calls and the woman answering recognized me the last couple of times. Her comrade (which is what people say here for co-worker) was supposed to call with the date but didn’t. Weather is supposed to turn cold on Sunday so we need to put these trees to bed. Oranges off the one are not tasty Bruce says, rather sour, but the lemons are really lovely and so different, fresher tasting, than store bought. 

We made more soup yesterday, Bruce had a far more generous version in mind but I took some that we had made before potato, chicken stock based, from the freezer and added most of what he wanted. Turned out well and we have equal the amount of packets back in the freezer. It’s not a large freezer and we often out cook it’s capacity so give away quite a bit. 

Check, check, went to the store I visit annually for my 2018 Moleskin calendar, been using them for years now and they really work for me. Also bought Christmas cards although the selection isn’t quite there yet, still pleased with what I bought. 

Picked up our train tickets from the travel agent and had lunch at the Freiburger, a popular burger joint, then did our turtle act again in the sunshine. 

Our monthly tram passes had expired yesterday so I bought us eight trips each, you have to stamp the date and time at a machine on the tram, luckily we did because all fares were checked today and one fellow had trouble with the ticket agent right in front of Bruce but eventually produced a valid ticket. These agents are sometimes quite okay, just doing the job, others are assholes, excuse the language. The latter like the feeling of power over others and use it when they can to be mean. We talked about this, a monthly tram ticket is €51 , the fine for non-payment is €60, they do not check often so we wondered how many people ride for free and are willing to get that fine plus the embarrassment of being kicked off, probably quite a few I would think. Then I wonder if there is repercussion if you get kicked off more than once, do they keep records and check back? This being Germany, I would think so, sigh, more questions I have no answers for.

The fellows from the Stadtgärtenerei came to pick up our citrus trees on Thursday, friendly guys and commented on the view we have, one said “you get to wake up in the morning to "THIS” and he is right. 

I’ve been waiting for an order I placed end of April last year for underwear, boy shorts, too much information I know, but they are comfortable okay! I can’t find them here, or in Paris, Amsterdam, Sevilla, well any city, seem to be a North American thing. Order placed, takes at least a month to ship, didn’t get forwarded from Canada, our renter found them in our mail box, a box she doesn’t use. She forwarded them to me in Freiburg costing $45, and it took a month to arrive, except arrived at the customs office. Getting there is a real pain by transit so I splurged on a cab for €20 each way, duty of €13, expensive and time consuming goods! But worth it for me. I just wanted to get them before we go to Sevilla, now in hand, I’m happy, and the cab driver on the way played Flashdance on the radio as we were driving along, still remember that movie and like the music and dancing, wow, that’s been a long time.

Bruce bought spiced, dry roasted peanuts, have you ever had just one? Impossible! Good thing dinner tonight is a light one.

Met up with Adrienne and Jeffrey with Bruce this time, another very lively conversation and Mary Louise stopped by too, found out she’s a lawyer and works in a bank which probably explains her excellent English speaking. Jeffrey is originally from Toronto and has dual citizenship for USA. Adrienne is working through issues with her son.

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beautiful Fall Weather

We’ve been very lucky weather wise, pretty warm and certainly sunny, I consider each good day a gift this time of year.

Took Christoph and his son to lunch at Mahatma Gandhi Saturday for good, spicy Indian food. The son said he liked hanging with us to experience new foods and practice his English. He speaks English well, hesitates on some words, but also understands most of what we say and asks if he doesn’t, truly does want to learn. He’s a polite teenager around us but his father has told us he has typical teenage foibles. 

Sunday and I spill wine on my computer, darn it!!! Of course it doesn’t work so it’s off to the computer store we go on Monday. We’d both be really rich people if we could find a fix to spills on computers but they aren’t ever covered under any warranty, human error. I wanted the exact same gold coloured MacBook which they didn’t have in stock so ordered for me, came in Wednesday so we picked it up, need to go back for the backup on Friday. So shiny new computer with a right shift key that works and no sticky space bar which I was willing to live with but this way I can type much faster and more accurately, bonus! Plus I am writing again which I’ve missed doing. Thankfully Dawna left me a paperback novel which has held my attention nicely.

Newly restored building downtown.
After the store we stopped at a cafe we haven’t been to for a long while and had an excellent lunch at Cafehaus. A lady next to us had a very big, beautiful Newfoundlander dog, black and white while usually they are brown and white, it was gorgeous and well mannered. Huge paws on it and a sunny disposition, just a pleasure to see.  Bruce paid the bill with a 50 Euro bill and received back two twenties with the change, hey, that’s not right, so we call over our waiter and give him back the extra 20. He was very pleased and because we figured it might come out of his wages and didn’t want that to happen even though his error. This square is a through point for many University students to walk or ride to reach the University, always lots of people going by. Nice day out too so it was a lovely time of good food, people and dog watching and sitting under horse chestnut trees. We have to grab those days while the weather still is cooperative, but in three weeks we’ll be back in sunny Sevilla which can be cool but is usually sunny.

Next door I checked out a unique store, held products from India and China I think, had a yoga theme with small statues of gold frogs in the lotus position and looking happy or smug depending on how you read them. 

Read about this gate in the following link, one of two, this is Martinstor (Martins gate)

Bruce took his wheels in to get new wheels and other minor adjustments done. He now has four shiny new wheels and doesn’t bob all over the place on cobblestones. His bar at the back to carry luggage and the shopping cart has also been firmed up which is helpful to us both. That bar has been a godsend for me so I’m not dragging two large suitcases across long lines to trains or in the airport. We have learned over time to let the bike take as much weight as possible and it really helps.

Met Christoph at Milano, Italian restaurant after looking for the lady who sells dried fruit at the Munstermarkt, wasn’t there, was on Saturday.That market smells so wonderful as I’ve said so many times before, I do wish there was a small app I could use to give you a scent of it. 

Munster spire, almost restored after years of painstaking effort!
Twin towers attached to it.
The mesh you are seeing in the two photos above is because I took the pictures from the balcony of a department store next door.

There were a lot of police downtown on Thursday 12th, walking around in pairs and threes, there wasn’t a game happening but it was noticeable and I don’t know why, we went down on Saturday and didn’t see any. These anomalies make me curious and I really have no way of finding out about them.

I visited the local ophthalmologist shop with the idea that I wanted new glasses, he’s always been good to us but haven’t seen him for a couple of weeks, maybe on holidays. Looking, I or we, didn’t find anything that struck us both in frames and since Bruce has to look at me daily, his opinion is important! The clerk there cleaned my current glasses with a “sonic bath” and they are much improved, brighter than ever and aside from checking the prescription I may not need new ones after all. Will look in Sevilla and expect to find cheaper frames and more colourful perhaps.

Downtown to the Munstermarkt and it is Saturday, lovely warm day so extremely busy. We sat in a cafe for a drink, away from the maddening crowds but could watch from our seats. Bruce knocked over his drink before getting a sip of it, there was just a sip left. Good thing there were no computers in the way! Lunch was doner kebab where they shave off the meat, we didn’t want too much so just shared one. 

Just added to show some lovely architecture!
Weird thing today, they are running sets of trams instead of singles out our way and we can’t figure out why. Nice day out though, fall colour everywhere and brilliant sunshine. 

Sunday and we’re back downtown but a much less packed city, lots of people travelling seen because we were next to the train station in the theatre district. We ordered a chicken salad from Divan, a Turkish restaurant we have gone to before, ordered it for take away and enjoyed a glass of wine while people and dog watching.

Zwiebelkuchen is Onion Cake, a dish that is served in the Fall in south Germany so I tried a piece from our local bakery. Some versions have ham or bacon in them, mine was plain. I liked the topping but not the crust, to describe it better, it’s basically an onion quiche, doubt it will become a favourite.

We've really enjoyed this fall in Freiburg, weather has been fantastic, warm enough without a coat, even some people are still wearing shorts!

All for now, Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hello  Friends,

We had a very nice sunny day, the day I last posted, so we checked out the new restaurant that Shalimar was in, still missing it, but Sally’s has a wide menu of many types of cuisine. That usually bothers me, thinking how can they do justice to all the different cuisines with their varied spices and methods of cooking so I played it safe and ordered a chicken salad which was good. May try the buffet next time, costs 6,00 Euros for lunch and my peering in the pots showed a variety of interesting looking food, cheap enough. They were quite busy and surprise, the fellow who used to be at Ciao Bella was there. Menu had some similarities to that one too, names for kids food, of course I’m curious now, did they have a falling out? Did Ciao Bella put in an additional restaurant with different food on offer? Questions I have no answers for yet. They advertise Oriental and Italian cuisine.

Both low energy on a gorgeous sunny day, plans to go to the Mundenhof or downtown to the munstermarkt shelved and we sit in the sun at a cafe. We did cook up a batch of stewed tomatoes, yummy and we are settling in, now to get out and book meets with friends. We meet Christoph tomorrow and go to look for a bike for me. I want three wheeled, foldable and electric to give me that extra bit of push when I need it. 

We’ve just been catching up, cooking and enjoying the sunny weather here in Freiburg, nothing too exciting to write about.

I had lunch with Jeffrey and Adrienne on Tuesday Sept 26 at Edo’s Hummus, a vegetarian restaurant downtown. Very successful one if the clientele were indication, lots of them. It is self serve and the food is great. I was introduced to Jeffrey from blogger Ali Garland and hadn’t met him until today. Adrienne, I met in the Spring and we connected very well. I also met Mary Louise who stopped by on her way to meet her son, she’s an intelligent woman too. I do appreciate being able to make friends this way and Thank you Ali for introducing us. 

Bruce found this on BBC and, as you probably know of me, I keep my political opinions to myself but this fellow’s speech is how I view a near perfect world. The first link is what happened in the US Air Force academy, the second link is Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s response in which both Bruce and I really respect and admire the words of his speech, you’ll need to turn on the sound, it’s worth it!

What prompted the speech in the next link

If you choose not to follow the links, the message is to treat people with respect and dignity no matter their gender, colour of skin, or ethnicity. Honestly, I wasn’t raised that way, my parents had prejudices to the couple of ethnic groups that were located around Victoria where we lived. A good friend in my early twenties, a whole lot more worldly than I was, questioned me and great discussions came of it between us. Due to those discussions, sometimes arguments, she opened my mind up to other possibilities and experiences. I do not blame my parents for their somewhat narrow view of those people who lived around them, they both had bad experiences in business with the “rotten apples”, so while I understood, I moved forward to not “paint” those groups and any other with the same brush. My viewpoint now is to look for the good but not be innocent, there are still a lot of bad people out there by whatever influence they have lived through. 

Meet every individual and ask yourself are you a person I would like as a friend or a person I want to avoid… Off the soapbox.

We haven’t been downtown as much as previous times, but decided to meet Christoph on a Saturday for lunch. 
Lovely fall display!
Met him in front of the Munster Cathedral and all wanted to escape to a less busy place soonest, many tour groups were in that day. (fantastic pictures on the website)

St. George and his slain dragon, all gussied up, they have finished restoring the statue.

We went to an Indian food restaurant we hadn’t been to before and frankly won’t again. Setting is nice, in an enclosed outside patio. The food certainly wasn’t bad but we all agreed they had "dumbed or numbed” it down for a typical German palate. What I mean by that, is Germans tend to like simple food, cooked well, without much spice, it’s just the way it’s done here, especially in a smaller town like Freiburg. Our fav Indian restaurant closed here in Rieselfeld as I posted but the sister restaurant is just as good and spicier than the one we went to today, more “Indian” which as I’ve also said can mean different food due to the large country and different areas within. That was not the case here, just not enough spice! Bring on the spice! 

After we went to Schlappen for a drink just to people watch, being Saturday and Oktoberfest there were men in lederhosen and women in dirndls and other traditional costumes. We also saw men wearing a black suit with hat and flared bottom pants, we used to call them bell bottoms (really showing  my age here!) Looking it up and I couldn’t find any reference so asked Christoph. These fellows are learning carpentry and travel all over Germany to do so, they used to walk but now hitchhike or take trains, nomadic carpenters, who knew?

In Paris you are somewhat identified to be a local if you carry a baguette, mostly from a bakery rather than the grocery store, Eric Nicol, Canadian humour author, said a French baguette is flavoured with garlic and armpit. Here in Freiburg you are identified as a local if you carry a Stefan’s box of cheesecake. I’ve mentioned both before but hadn’t connected the two.

Drive through the Kaiserstuhl to Bahlingen and Landgasthof zum Lamm restaurant which is a favourite of ours. Waitresses recognized us and asked after our health. Portions here are even bigger than usual I think and even Christoph couldn’t finish his, all zum mit nehmen (for take home). I had a schnitzel since I hadn’t had one on this trip yet and knew it would be well done here and it was truly delicious. Driving back to Freiburg we went through many small villages, as we do, but Christoph took us through different ones. This afternoon has that photographer’s light about although sorry to say I didn’t take any pictures, it had rained earlier and everything sparkled. I saw a statue of a cat on a fence that looked a bit like Lexi; a hawk sitting on a post, lots of tall sunflowers and flowered window boxes, corn has been harvested but the stalks are there. This is mainly apple and squash season, trees were full of apples and squash of all types lined people’s driveways, both were on many stands for sale to the passerby, same stands that sell the asparagus and strawberries in the spring time. This is October 2nd, German Unification Day, public holiday although nothing too much happens in the way of celebration except we passed by a couple of wine festivals, me passing wine festivals? Say it isn't so, but was.

Dawna and Erwin left us these! So now you can enjoy them as I have.

All for now, Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pictures from Amsterdam and Trip to Freiburg

In a shop window, who could resist taking a picture of this cutie!
That's a lot of garlic, in the Garlic Queen, Amsterdam

Mmmmm, lunch!
I see my lunch!
Sitting at the kitchen table, as we do, Bruce spotted a heron on the fence, just looking down at the koi pond, musing about which one would make a nice lunch. In fact, I think the pond is too narrow for it to fly down grab a fish with it’s bill and get out again, but it was sure thinking about it!

This last week with the weather change so has our lifestyle. When we arrived and for almost three weeks after we ate lunch out and had dinner in the smoking area of mostly picnic foods. Charles was pleased that we were using that area to relax in because he said many guests don’t. 

We went back to the Seafood Bar for king crab legs, full meal each this time, so good! The hostess, loves her job, is part owner of this family run restaurant we found out, one brother heads up the kitchen, another does the accounting and the father is Boss. They really run a tight ship and are continually busy, great food, service and ambiance, a real success story, as you know, I love to hear about success stories in any business.

On the train Amsterdam to Cologne and informed that we have to change trains before Dusseldorf, train people guide us but this adds about half hour to the trip. In Cologne our taxi driver is waiting at a different taxi stand across the station, another wait. I told him we had tried to map a walk from the station but he said it would have been difficult and certainly he seemed to take a lot longer to get from the station to the hotel than expected for the kilometres on the map, due to so many one way streets.

Hotel Engelbertz is old and elevator too small for Bruce’s chair so he parks it in the lobby in a corner. Rooms are non-smoking but they say limited okay. Biggest problem is that Lexi can get under the bed and with a foot rest between it will be very difficult to get her out, that’s tomorrow’s dilemma. Next day I had to take apart the beds, two mattresses on one frame, as they do in Germany. Haul the mattresses to the wall and remove the slatted frame, bit of a workout, darn cat!

It’s an old family run hotel and basic but comfortable, the people behind the counter did everything possible to make our stay okay. What I don’t understand is what happened with communication between and the hotel. Clearly they did not know anything about our special needs, but did their best to accommodate. Hotel is in the shopping District and quite noisy at 8:00 pm. 

We go for dinner at Oma’s (Grandma’s) Cafe of schnitzel type meals which are really good and stay for an extra glass of wine to listen to an Irish piano player, really good on a piano with full keyboard and you should have seen how he folded the whole thing up, very efficient. 

Nice fellow, my bad, didn't get his name.
He got shut down by the police but I did go talk to him and he said it was over taxes Germany was owed over CD sales. He said they were nice and he had documentation to back him up so he’ll be allowed to play on the street again and sell CD’s. He said people didn’t pay taxes on CD sales, would it be worth the expense to send three officers to crank down on that, don’t know, but they did. Next stop is at the cafe next door for mushroom soup, even though we were already full, this was really warm and soothing, a lot of cream used I think.

Mural in a cafe, Cologne
We’ve seen the cathedral here and it is magnificent on the outside, didn’t we’ll see the inside. A bit of a walk from the hotel and also from the train station.

Next morning and we train from Cologne to Karlsruhe, get off, are met by a wheelchair ramp equipped van, he drives us to Baden-Baden for re-boarding the train. (This stoppage of rail is due to a collapsed tunnel at Rastatt between, finally we found out ) They actually held the train for a couple of minutes to allow us to board, otherwise it would have been an hour wait for the next. Off in Freiburg and it is raining cats and dogs, teeming down, we hurry to get under shelter, not soon enough to avoid becoming drowned rats, even Lexi got wet, but not a peep out of her, probably atonement for her earlier antics. We have a glass of wine to wait it out, seems to be our modus operandi. Get to the hotel and call Dawna and Erwin to meet up with them for drinks, dinner and catch up. Hotel is Rheingold, close to the train station, in the centre, an area we are familiar with but had never stayed at this hotel before, it was great! The Central where we’ve stayed for about five years now, had a ramp but do not any more, so while we like the people there, it’s not convenient for Bruce’s chair. The rooms are slightly larger at the Rheingold and people friendly too, breakfast was good. Another thing I don’t get, they say  breakfast is included but show an extra fee on the bill.

So the trip was as easy for us as it could be even with the interruptions in rail, staff were friendly and helpful.

Sunday Dawna and Erwin move out and we move in, nice to be home again! We didn’t bother with a special taxi coming home this time, just bought our monthly tram tickets and took it, not crowded, so easy trip home. Now for unpacking, mail, making appointments, shopping, etc etc. takes a bit of time to completely settle in as I’ve mentioned before, and probably every time we’ve done it…

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and hiding Lexi Cat

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Last week in Amsterdam

Hello Friends,

I cannot get my card reader working today to give you new pictures :( . I did want to post this and will do a picture post when it stops playing possum with me.

After such a nice day Thursday on the canal Friday was frankly awful. Very heavy rain and some wind, not nice at all, all day too, little respite. 

I like this picture but others were more descriptive I think.
We had supper, yes, again, instead of lunch at the Uptown Meat Club, a burger split between us, burger itself was small compared to some but very tasty, rather  have that than a bigger one that isn’t. Chef came out and talked to us for a bit, he said the theatre crowd sometimes comes to them before or after a performance, theatre is just down the street. What I heard from him was, there wasn’t much predictability in the business, especially since it’s in the museum district with tourists but they do have their regulars too. 

Yesterday there was construction at both ends between the apartment blocking the sidewalk both ways for Bruce’s chair. He was able to maneuver the chair down but coming back we had to accept help from others to get the chair over the curb and into the building. Going right is no longer an option for him but going left, longer route to get to an exit is open now, just takes a run up and back to get to the other side of where we want to be. Construction to the right is permanent at least while we are remaining here, another week, scaffolding is erected. A bit inconvenient for Bruce and some seem to move things for his passage, others don’t care, blocking the entire sidewalk. 

People with walking problems here tend to ride regular bikes many also use, not so much motorized wheelchairs but modified motorcycles, smaller versions of Bruce’s Pepe le Pew, four wheeled scooters. I didn’t mention, no one, or very few wear helmets here. If there is a way to modify wheels of any sort, here would be the place to find the invention! It is amazing to me what people carry on their bikes, from people riding sidesaddle on the back to large packages, even saw a sink go by the other day. 

Charles dropped off two strawberry tarts to our door at 9:30 at night, on the good side they were delicious but what? timing and … well we ate them, and we are both going back to Freiburg a little bit heavier I think. Next day Omar dropped off more flowers, I caught him in the hallway and said thanks and he appreciated that.

Wandering again into the area of West Amsterdam, actually found a pet store with a beautiful, curious, orange and white male kitten about 10 weeks old, so cute! Wonder what Lexi would think to have a companion, it’s small enough right now to share the travel box with her, if she’d let it, sorry, not going to happen, I envision the box tumbling about with them fighting inside, nope, not going to happen. They sold cat food in a way I’ve never seen before, am I boring you, skip this if so, they put it in 1kg bags, which is handier but of course more expensive, good for us though.

Photo Credit Omar Traore

Omar brought in these tubs to add to the garden, naturally Lexi was curious. I  almost got a picture of her in one, little head sticking out, she's too fast for me... 

This area of town has many small shops and cafes. I had a tuna salad sandwich, toasted with gouda cheese at Vlaamsch Broodhuys, can’t get my tongue around the name but they are known for fabulous bread. Bought a few food products at another bio store which had a friendly ambiance about it. I think I shop in those organic stores for the ambiance rather than the actual product, there admitted!

Passed by a building with a ladder like structure and a male statue standing on the last rung. Another building with triangle like mirror looking sculptures in an open atrium, I read that they were installed to transfer light and move with the sun (like a sunflower does). 

We had dinner at the Irish pub of bangers and mash, side salad, it was tasty, but with bits left over in our dishes a pigeon flew up onto the table, looked me straight in the eye and started eating my salad, thank goodness I was done with it. It didn’t listen to shoo, or my hand gestures, a fellow at a neighbouring table came and shooed it off. Actually two reasons it ignored me, we were face to face, birds eyes are on the side and it was a gutsy bird and used to pulling this trick. It came back for seconds but I caught it in time from mounting the table, same bird. 

Saturday and it’s a nuthouse of hoards of people, Bruce found it quite difficult to drive. That would be my only caution about this city, being that your chances of getting creamed by a bicycle are pretty high, but it will be a tourist riding one I think, the locals manoeuvre expertly. It’s almost a ballet watching them weave around walkers, cars and trams, all at high speed. 

Wandering towards the centre of the city we found Rembrandtplein, Rembrandt Square
It’s a large square ringed with restaurants and clubs. One must be particularly rowdy, because a team of fellows were using a hose to power wash the inside!

We found the only garlic restaurant in Amsterdam! Walking by many restaurants and I liked the ambiance of this one and hadn’t even seen the interior yet which is beautiful in a minimalist way. Many portraits of queens inside, good ones too. I had garlic soup which had just a hint of garlic with a broth and cream base, served into a chive covered bowl with a metal flask of the soup. Bruce had a grilled cheese sandwich, come on Bruce! but that was what he wanted and was tasty. Walked back over three canals, after all this is Amsterdam. 

One of the first days we were here and I overheard a woman say “but I don’t see any water”, she had to walk about 100 meters to find it.

Back to The Seafood Bar for dinner, best king crab legs either one of us has had, although we don’t get them often. Last time we can remember was in Tofino on Long Beach, BC, years ago. Usually they come with drawn butter and lemon, these did not need either, so tasty. It is weird I go on and off crab but I figured that this would be a good place to eat it and righto! Sunday and they are turning people way if they don’t want to wait or have a reservation, busy place, always.

We took the number 2 tram up to Central train station and got a good fill of architecture, which was our intent! Cost for one hour is 2.90, daily cost is 7.50 which is a bargain if you are going very much further. Overheard a fellow saying, in London that would cost 15 GBP. There are some stops which require use of a ramp for Bruce’s chair, some not although they say wheelchair accessible, maybe they mean the push type, because Bruce’s chair required a ramp for the beginning station and the one at the train station. Especially at the train station I would have thought it would be accessible. I should probably do a separate post on accessibility in the cities we’ve been in, but for now we aren’t finding Amsterdam very much so.

Had another rather mediocre lunch at an old Irish pub, different from the one we’ve been to before, chosen mainly due to the fact it had heating outside and a good awning. Rain and wind were happening so we went next door to another outside seating area for a glass of wine to wait it out, not a bad thing at all. It feels like fall here now and likely will until we leave on Friday.

I haunted many of the tourist shops looking for actual cards, not postcards and they didn’t have any, just the same goods i.e. wooden shoes, fake tulips, well I won’t go on. Went into a shop that sells all Delft products, wow, nothing but Delft pottery, whole shop was white and blue, and blue and white. Anyway, the fellow told me of a card shop along the next canal. Only in Amsterdam are you given directions by canal! well, maybe in Bruges.

Found the shop and a delightful owner, she said it’s not a Netherlands thing to send Thank You cards, “we’re rude”, but it is changing with more people doing so. Step into the shop prevented Bruce’s entry so I asked if I could show him the selection I’d picked, she said “no problem I don’t expect you to run off with a few cards”. She thought we were brave travelling with Bruce’s chair, I told her it’s just a matter of booking ahead, loosing spontaneity, but better than sitting in one place all the time. She was a "card" in a card shop called Friends of Art.

There was an American/British store on the way back, always fun to see products we haven’t ever or haven’t for a long time. Bruce found some liquid smoke he uses sometimes so we bought that. The clerk in there was nice too and gave me his business card  so we can email them with an order if we want at Eichholtz Delicatessen.

Out for dinner again at the Aran Irish pub after checking out the other two pubs close by. We watched a fellow set up large fake dice coloured gold with white pips along the entrance and wondered, as we do, what event is happening. This was outside the Holland Casino, they advertise as the only one in Holland (not the Netherlands). Here’s another factoid for you, I had thought that Holland and the Netherlands were the same, not so. The country is called Netherlands, Holland is both a North and South state in it, thank Bruce for that tidbit.

All for now, next update will come from Freiburg. We travel to Cologne Friday and then Freiburg Saturday. There is a major break in the rail system at Karlsruhe so we'll have to be taken around that, inconvenient for us, but I can imagine very much more so for hauling freight.

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat