The knock on my door came at 8:30 a.m. as promised. But I am groggy from a restless night’s sleep that includes dreaming of someone else wearing my favorite patchwork socks.
They deliver breakfast to your door at the Bema. Early. Nothing fancy: a boiled egg, a slice of meat, a slice of cheese, toast, jam, juice and coffee. The coffee is God-awful (no, really), but I drink it anyway, munch slowly on the rest, and blog.
I take my time. My knees ache from the previous days roaming, as my clogs have well-worn heels. I think about getting some shopping in.
By the time I finish the blog, shower and pack up, it’s approaching 1 o’clock. It was snowing when I woke, turned to rain while I typed and is now hail. I ditch the idea of returning to Gambrinus, and duck into an equally charming French café. At least, I think it is French. I walk through its entry of heavy burgundy drapes and am taken by the chalkboard menu and the multi-level seating. It’s quiet. There’s a couple enjoying lunch in the front window, and a man sitting alone and watching the hail fall from the side windows. I climb to a third floor perch and settle in for a while.
I have a Portuguese fish soup in a clear and lightly seasoned broth. It is served with some of the best bread I’ve had in Europe. Dark long slices with a hearty, crunchy crust.
Hm. Not French.
I’m reading and occasionally speaking to the café’s cat. He loves me … or my bowl of fish soup. The slut. He wanders among the legs of the table, rubs his back against my bag (and makes a gift of his hair) and refuses to leave me until I stroke him appreciatively.
I take care to wash my hands later, but I’ll eventually rub my eyes and …
I decide that I’ll do just one touristy thing each day. Today: Jordaan. It’s a neighborhood of Amsterdam known for its small shops tucked into its small, winding alleys. I’ve forgotten my camera again, but the weather makes it just as well. I am simply walking again, admiring the views, window shopping…
… and fighting my own moodiness. I’m on vacation, but the bigger questions about The Future trouble my calm. Graduate school? Germany?
I push them aside and find a place for tea and more quiet reading. It’s a hip coffeebar downtown with a large window onto the street. It’s the end of the workday now and the commuters are streaming by on their bikes. There are more everyday cyclists here than in Berlin, and its amazing to see. There’s actually cycling “traffic” so the distinct car- and pedestrian-free lanes are crowded. It’s a joy.
It’s too late to find new shoes, and my left knee aches enough that I decide to call it an early night. I hop a tram back to my neighborhood, and find a relatively cheap takeaway serving the usual.
Wait, do I spy ribs?
I am complimenting the owner on the meal and paying the bill when he asks me where I am from. America? He claps and exclaims with joy.
He’s a Kurd, and formerly of Iraq.
The Future? Complicated.
Photo: Piotr Chrobot on Unsplash