On our last night, Tom, Karen, Ashbloem and I (and later Anita) gathered at and old favorite restaurant in the Jordaan called Burger Patio (which has neither burgers nor a patio as far as I can recall). But the atmosphere is lively and the food is delicious. I even had herring AGAIN, which is simply incredible considering it was something I avoided like the plague when I lived there.
Tom's dessert was taking too long, so Ashbloem left to meet our friends gathering at a local pub called Cafe Thijssen which is named after famous Dutch scholar/teacher Theo Thijssen (1879-1943). [Side note: the pub's website has a chat room on it. How bizarre!] Since the bill was taking even longer to arrive, I followed shortly after Ashbloem. Stupid me, I thought I would take a quick ride past my old apartment which was just around the corner from the pub. BIG MISTAKE.
I rode past it twice, noticing the belongings of the current inhabitants in my big gorgeous windows. And suddenly I was so MAD. That is my house! Those strangers should be thrown out into the streets and I should walk up that pokey little stairwell and into my old home with the horrible brown carpet and silly kitchenette. I almost rang the bell to see if they would give me a tour, but thankfully had enough clarity of mind to know that this would probably be received as a strange request. I can see now how that converstation would have gone:
Crazy American Girl: Goed Avond. (sniff sniff)
Normal lovely Dutch Couple: Ja?
CAG: Umm, (wiping eyes with sleeve) spreken jullie engels?*
CAG: It will just take a moment. I promise. (sobbing now) Please?
NLDC: Nee. Het is niet mogelijk. You are a crazy American girl. (Slam door)
* Apologies to all my Dutch friends for butchering your lovely language.
I looked for the cats that used to roam and chase things on the deck of the houseboat opposite the flat. I looked to see if the other houseboat was still empty (it is). I was astounded by the renovations that are now complete (that had just been started when I left) in the row houses across the other side of the canal. They look amazing. Each now has a small little deck overlooking the Lijnbaansgracht.
I got back on my bicycle, wiping tears from my eyes. These were stubborn tears that just would not stop throughout the rest of the night, even as I sat happily surrounded by so many good people, my old friends.
It was just a surprise. I have been back to Amsterdam before since leaving, and even stayed in my old neighborhood. I didn't expect this time to still feel such a loss. But there it was.
I left early the next morning in a taxi for Schiphol (thankfully having discovered at the last moment that my flight was actually departing 3 hours before I thought it was!). The rain came down hard, and the clouds were dark.
Here are some photos from the last parts of the trip. To see complete photos visit Ashbloem's flickr site or my online photo album.
First, a few photos from Tuesday night's gathering at Weber:
Karen and Ashlee
Rene and Me
Ashlee, Tom, Petter
Me and GJ
(who is incapable of making a normal face when a camera is pointed in his general direction)
Our last night:
At Cafe Thijssen:
Andreas, Ashlee, Sara
Who knew the Dutch were so fond of Italianesque gesticulation?
Karen and Pam
Rene and Pam
Anita and Rene
Ashlee, Karen, Anita
Pam, Ashlee and Tom
The final shot of me and Ashbloem. Can you tell we've shed a few tears?