Sunday, May 31, 2015

Amsterdamsters, 3: Amsterdam Museum, Beginhof, and Beyond

Continuing our first day in The City...
Next in our Saturday cavalcade of museums was the Amsterdam Museum (the
city's historical museum, which has wisely dropped "historical" from its title so
as not to offend/repel the ignorant or uneducated or those who are only here to
drink and smoke); etc.); but I digress; I liked this museum a lot, especially for
its many displays, including many high-tech displays; the above shows how far
above/below, mostly below, the level of the North Sea
you are in Amsterdam; Schipol is disturbingly below...

First G/L marriages here, 2001; the "anything goes" facet is
thoughtful, disciplined...

Workers, 1910

An amazing CG-enhanced video of the growth of Amsterdam in the 19th century

Subsidence; there's no drought here

In the Beginhof, a 500 year-old courtyard residence for widows

The Dutch Reformed Church where the Pilgrims (yes, those
Pilgrims) worshipped, awaiting their boat to the New World

A Beguine

Oldest building in Amsterdam, Het Houten Huys, 1528; not
long after, they began requiring that all buildings be made
out of brick... 

Beautiful Art time, all buildings become

Interior of an Art Nouveau tobacco store of note  

More subsidence

Frites, yum! Vegetarian, too! 

Amsterdamsters, 2: Damrak to Dam Square

Continuing a day in The City...
Centraal Station, the late 19th century Neo-Gothic brick monstrosity that 
is the hub of all ground transportation here; somehwat reminiscent of the 

Walking south on the Damrak, the main drag, toward Dam square/piazza/whatever;
it's not the Rambla nor the Champs de Elysee, but, like them, you know where you've

Former stock exchange; I don't know where they invented capitalism, but it was
probably perfected here

Royal Palace on the Dam; we'll tour shortly

New church (only 600 years old)

National monument on Dam square

Inside the New Church; it was Protestanized in the 1500s and
thus the pulpit became the main feature, not the altar, the relics,

Catholic vestige

Moving right along, we are now in the great hall of the Royal
Palace on the Dam; much explanation is in order: we purchased
two Netherlands museum passes, which entitle us to repeated 
visits to some 400 Netherlands museums over the next year...
and thus we will be visiting quite a few museums in Netherlands
that are new to us and probably to anyone we may ever have

Closer up of Atlas, holding up the world in the Royal Palace's
great hall...more explanation...the Royal Palace was originally
the city hall of what was becoming, in the mid-17th century,
the richest city in Europe; Amsterdam had rebelled against
its Spanish/Hapsburg over-lords, and established itself as a
somewhat democratic republic; this is the hall of the people,
as it were

The marble floors of which display mid-17th century maps of the world...which
Amsterdam was busily colonizing...the significance of this shot is the eastern
coast of Australia, minus Tasmania and New Zealand, which the Dutch explorer
Abel Tasman later "discovered"

The city hall became a royal hall in 1808, after Napoleon saw 
the place and thought, well, suitably upgraded and augmented, 
it might provide a nice palace for his brother, Louis Napoleon, 
whom he had installed as king of the Netherlands; a Napoleonic 
fixer-upper; progress is not always linear, right?

Anyhow, Netherlands has remained a monarchy, a constitutional and symbolic one
(maybe it's good for tourism?), and thus the decor of the Royal Palace has remained,
um, royal; this is the former bankruptcy court, whose most famous defendant was
perhaps the Netherlands' most famous citizen: Rembrandt

And this is the former city council chambers, the decor of which, you, sister Carole,
may find helpfully instructive

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Amsterdamsters, 1: Suburbs and Initial Rambling

After a week and a half in Amsterdam's suburbs, we finally turned tourists today, Saturday, and took the Metro into The City. It's taken that long to acclimate, fix up our new camper, and visit with the Howes, who arrived Wednesday. We've made like four trips each to Kampeer Perfect (Camping World), MultiMate (Home Depot), Kwantum (Bed Bath Infinity & Beyond), Albert Heijn (Alberston's), and Ikea (Ikea). And we've also moved our venue to Camping Gaasparplas, which has much better transportation to the city than Amsterdamse Bos. As usual, our visit with the Howes was so busy with camper- and travel-talk I forgot to take any pix. Next time, probably back in California.

Anyhow, our visit to Amsterdam commences now, although I won't account for it very coherently. We've been here many times since 1979, have seen most of the sights, more than once, and mostly just enjoy being here in this anything-goes city; and being once again in Europe. Today's high point, after walking the Damrak, three museums and other sights, was finding the Marks and Spencers and buying Vicki a scones and clotted cream fix. (I'd already had my by Jenever fix.) A close second was finding the vlaamse friets store we always happen on to, and getting our fries fix. Met curry saus. Life is good.
Still out in the burbs, in Bovenkerk, near the campground, a
typical suburban scene...taken from the bicycle pavement; even
in the burbs, bicycles outnumber cars and get mostly equal

Road rage ready

Futbol cage in a playground

Now in Amsterdam, near Waterlooplein

Ditto; the Waterlooplein flea market was a waste of time

Rembrandt statue...and friends

Gothic art deco? The Touschinski Pathe Theatre:
muy famoso

Spinoza statue, in the former Jeiwsh quarter;
(I waited a good ten minutes for this gentleman
to fold up his map and move on)

Canal scene

In time, all buildings become restaurants

Thought for the day

Interior of St. Nicholas Church, late 19th century Catholic...
Catholic worship, in public, was banned for 300 years prior
to this...

Friday, May 22, 2015

ReturnTo Europe, 2015; And A New Rig

So Monday Delta jetted us first to Detroit and then to Amsterdam, both relatively quick and painless flights. I watched The Big Lebowksi for the hundredth+ time and also a disturbing documentary on contemporary American higher education, Ivory Tower. We got into Amsterdam early enough to have a second breakfast, waiting for Rene to pick us up in our rig. He was there on schedule, and after a couple hours of paperwork and demonstration, we were off to the Het Amsterdamse Bos campground, where we have stayed before. The next three days we spent unpacking, getting to know the new rig, making some minor alterations, and provisioning for the coming weeks. Also struggling with jet lag and the worst cold I've had in some time.
Over Holland...

The new (to us) rig at the Albert Heijn superhypermercado in
Amstelveen; Vicki wanted something smallish and we both wanted
something we wouldn't have to spend arms and legs on for
insurance: thus, a 2001 Rotec (German) motorhome on a Fiat turbo
diesel,..c. 48,000 miles....a pretty standard European rig, if smallish
and underpowered; but it is relatively spacious, for us, and has more
storage than we have ever enjoyed before; alas, or maybe not alas, it
is short on such amenities as air conditioning, entertainment system,
outdoor kitchen, generator, microwave, and cruise control, 
camera, and automatic transmission; we'll manage, somehow; we're
feeling very European, which is good

Our row at Het Amsterdamse Bos

Parts of which are over-run with rabbit (Penelope)

Stimulating the local, well, the Euro economy; where else are
you going to get household items for an RV when there's no

Eating local...brats with curry gewurz, rode bieten, grootmoeders
zurkool, and some aardappel salade, washed down by a glass of

Monday, May 18, 2015

Congratulations, Lexi!

We spent a long weekend with my sister Carole, Jim, and Lexi, celebrating Lexi's graduation from American Heritage high school. Lexi was there from pre-school on to graduation, and is now adjusting to the prospect of college next fall, and beyond.
The very happy family

With Vicki and me, very proud of our niece

With friends

Opening cards and gifts with special friend Cole, at the family
dinner later that evening; congrats Lexi!

Logging Out, Middle California

So our last days in Menlo Park were spent with P and her family, packing, sorting, reorganizing, preparing the Bigfoot for summer storage. On May 13th, we bade farewell, and red-eyed on to our next destination, South Florida.
The previous weekend I was treated to numerous sightings of
the c. 1927 Ford TriMotor giving rides out of the airport at
San Carlos; the first commercial airliner, all (corrugated)
aluminum, crew of 3 for 8-9 passengers; FDR campaigned
out of one in 1932; only about 200 were built; the TriMotor
was quickly superceded by the even more venerable DC-3

Roasting hot dogs (chauds chiens) with Grandma in the
back yard; note propane campfire unit: we figure the days of
free open fires in national forests and parks are about over...

The Bigfoot in storage, across the Bay

Saying bye to P