Sunday, August 27, 2017

Amsterdam Unique Lodgings

Hello friends,

I'll do a separate post(s) about Amsterdam the City but we are living in a truly unique apartment here in the Museums District, next to Vondelpark. It is a converted 18th century building originally built for the wealthy so has moulded ceilings which is pretty much all that's left of the original I think in this suite. 

From the book Amsterdam Architecture, A Guide (2006 Gaston Bekkers and THOTH Publishers) "Successful example of speculative building for the better-off. Fifteen terraced house, in plan and section resembling an 18th century palace, incorporating two wings and pavilions. Louis XVI ornament with meander, palmettos, Vitruvian Scroll, etc. A few vertical accents due to situation, immediately opposite Vondelpark." 

The facade has changed quite dramatically except No. 15 which we are in.  

Koi, from small to large, we think maybe fifteen of them 
We are in the Garden Suite which is aptly named, mini stream runs into a tree lined pond with Koi in it. More in a bit...

Lovely lily pad and flower
The train Paris to Amsterdam, friendly roller taxi drivers at both ends was smooth. At the flat we are greeted by Charles and Omar, so drop the bags and Lexi because we have to wait for the cleaner to finish the flat so we do a small shop and enjoy a glass of wine and watch all the people on bikes riding, make that zipping by. Major form of transport here, as you probably know, but it is quite amazing, so many! Get to the flat and Omar is here to get us settled and show us all the technology that makes everything work, even the inside and outside gas fireplaces. He’s kind of like a concierge, here to make our visit comfortable. Found out later he is also a supreme gardener and photographer extraordinaire, you’ll see some in this blog with his permission. 

Outside looking in. Photo Credit Omar Traore, Vossious Photography (Vossious is the name of the street we are on)
Charles owns the suite, he's the fellow in the video. Pictures and/or videos are worth a thousand words so here’s an artistic video of the flat we are in… and pictures.

Omar is the “go to guy” to get things done. He even made croissants and bread for us to welcome us the next morning. Note comes on a postcard under our door with cheery smiley faces and a bit about the weather expected for the day. Charles came in to explain the rules of the house. Fridge is full of meat, cheese, dairy, beverages of all sorts, drawers are full of sweet and salty biscuits and chips, we won’t starve for sure! Met the next tier, Gilbert, who does the cleaning, laundry etc for the flat, he also helped Bruce plug in his wheels, we looked inside the cabinet we were told to use in the hallway and didn’t know which plugin to use, didn’t want to wreck any of the numerous electrical systems housed in there so called. 

This place is really more on the genre of a hotel than an independent apartment. That means no laundry for a month, Thanks Gilbert!, and minimal grocery shopping, Thanks Omar!, although we like the shopping part, hauling it home isn’t always the easiest. Lexi’s litter is heavy and sometimes so is her food. Oh, speaking of Lexi I heard a growl last night, middle of the night, quite loud! Charles cat Koshka had come into the garden for a “visit”. It is her garden after all, she probably wanted to check out Lexi the intruder, Lexi was rude and protecting her space and people, so Koshka backed off after a while. 

We get breakfast of warm, fresh croissants and bread, yesterday later in the day a complete cinnamon apple pie, still warm, was delivered by Omar, apparently a specialty of the house. 

Wow! and scrumptious! Lots of cinnamon.
Whew, we have a lot of food, tomorrow I think we’ll make a picnic of some and take it to Vondelpark which is close by. Must look at what’s there at the park, looks to be a large one.  

Omar came to do some gardening when we came home and when he’d finished came back and asked if he could let Koshka their cat into the garden for half an hour. Then she hid and prowled back and forth until she came to our door, let her in and out the main door into the hallway. All this time Lexi was asleep in the bed so we closed the door to her. Koshka, the Mistress, of the garden, is apparently quite upset she can’t get into her garden. 

Outside Mistress Koshka
As you can see she's a pretty cat, taupe mostly with a bit of brown on her face, a bit thinner than Lexi but about the same size. So that was our cat drama for the day. I’ll suggest they bring her earlier next time, just after we’ve got home and Lexi is still out for the count for another couple of hours.

Inside Mistress Lexi

More about the garden, it is, as is about six years old. The large trees were grown in a nursery and brought by crane into the garden mature, some are really tall, must have been quite the effort. It’s how they brought in the picture window also, which takes two hours to clean. Omar has planted over sixty plants in this garden and maintains it. More about Omar, father Malaysian, mother Croatian, surname is Malaysian. He comes from Zagreb, Croatia, which I’ve heard a fair bit about from bloggers I read.

Garden lit at night, from above. Photo Credit Omar Traore, Vossious Photography
The garden is lit at night as you can see, ruling is that if you turn on the lights, you turn them off, if someone else turns on the lights, they turn them off, you don't. It's all about sharing the garden with people upstairs. 

We are living with nature in the middle of the city, there is a heron that comes to visit, we saw it looking down at the koi and wondering how to get a meal out of them; I was out in the smoking area which I haven’t mentioned yet, later, about dusk and a small rodent came out from under the bench, mole, vole, mouse, not sure but I didn’t shriek, just thought about Koshka making a meal of it, yuck; several slugs, the small brown kind; so far mosquitos are not a problem although they could be, the water in the pond moves though so that’s probably a help. They seem to have those green parrots we’ve seen in Sevilla first and then Brussels, same noise and Omar confirmed they are, hard to see in all the green but nice to hear.

Smoking area is a U-shaped covered patio at the end of the path from the suite. It has an outdoor gas fireplace, which we haven't used yet. Around the U are cushioned benches with pillows and sheep skins, very comfortable, and that is a good thing since we spend most of our time out here. WiFi works well out there, in fact I'm writing this blog post propped on a sheep skin with pillow at my back, feet up to make a table with my lap, very comfortable. The stream is bubbling beside me and I have a view of the garden, since I'm in it.

As for plants, there has to be over a 100 species, even strawberry and grape, tree ferns (one sprouting a fiddlehead at the moment) with large trunks and delicate leaves; palms of different sorts, a jasmine that smells lovely; lily pads of various sizes; planted round boxwood plants which I thought looked strange in this more exotic garden but actually look nice. And of course the koi, from small to a quite large one that is more yellow than orange.

This flat comes with flower arrangements which we’ve enjoyed and got renewed today. One large for the kitchen/living room and one for the bathroom. I always have felt “rich” to have an arrangement in the bathroom and the only time that has ever happened before with me is when my mom sent me boxes of daffodils, I’d spread them about in my apartment including the bathroom and take some to work. She would fill a shoe box full of buds and mail them, they were so very much appreciated in Alberta in the cold, mushy, dreary, days of March!

Charles brought us a sponge cake, and honestly he does’t get that we don’t eat sweets but that has changed since his bakings have been offered. Bruce devoured the cake, I was lucky to get a slice to taste. Maybe Bruce’s inherent sweet tooth has come out while Dawna, his sister has always had it.

Omar delivered two tarts to us from “the best patisserie” in Amsterdam from Charles, very, very good! 

Both pretty and tasty, not pretty for long!
Charles asked us if a lady from an Amsterdam magazine like “Architecture Digest” could come and visit the garden so she came and was impressed I think, must ask for a copy or link to the article, curious to see what she’s written.

So that's where we are until mid-September, pampered and well fed!

Next post, Amsterdam and enough about food! Well, maybe a little bit about a seafood meal I had that was fantastic...

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and the jealous Lexi Cat

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