Nigel has already scored a Chipkaart (MetroCard) for me
We board and are in Amsterdam in 15 minutes. Since I’m staying at the same hotel as last time, I know how to get there from the Centraal Station and, more importantly, I know how to pronounce Nieuwezijdskolk (the street it’s on) which I didn’t when I arrived two years ago. Jet lagged and schlepping luggage, I couldn’t even articulate how to ask for directions (what’s with all those vowels? what’s with all those j’s?). But it’s much easier now. I can speak a little Dutch – but even better, I’m with Nigel, a trusted guide, who won’t let me wander off into the Red Light District in search of sleep. He leaves me at my hotel for a 2hr nap, then comes back to pick me up for a quick ferry trip he has planned in Amsterdam Nord - to the Eye Museum. I love the view of it over the water.
The Eye Museum is a museum for film - and its name is a pun, as the waterway it overlooks is called the IJ (pronounced EYE). It is at once a museum, and a destination in itself and since the worst of COVID when all museums were closed, I imagine plenty of people have been coming here just to get out of their apartments to see something beautiful. There are many ways to take it in. At a table…
It’s fascinating to me that street infrastructure in Amsterdam rates a level of branding that – here at least - is on par with that of a world famous handbag company, which spent a fortune for it. If you knew nothing about the priorities of Amsterdam, and the Netherlands, this would tell you a lot (hint: there are no chocolate cars).
From there, we walk in leisurely fashion to Balraj, the Indian restaurant where Nigel took me after our first ride (the significance of its being our first date is not lost on us, though we don’t discuss it). The service is slow tonight, and jetlag has me in its nasty grip, but the meal is excellent when it arrives. Just what the two of us needed. And that’s important because as far as cuisine goes, we’re tough to accommodate.
Nigel is deathly allergic to dairy, and I can’t eat any wheat. On top of that, we’ve planned a trip that involves not only Amsterdam and Ghent – but also Paris, where neither of us can eat even a croissant! We wonder if we may be the only two people to travel to Paris and starve to death. But for tonight, Balraj takes care of us handsomely. Nigel walks me back to my hotel. Do we kiss? I don’t remember. I’m already in dreamland.