April 2019

Amsterdam was basically a dream – not without problems (e.g., Richard’s falling, the perpetually leaking water pipe in the basement, my lower back, the initially cold & rainy weather), but in all it flowed, maybe too quickly, but enjoyably. We saw Dr. Huygen, had our blood tests (which turned out well for the most part except for my slightly higher cholesterol & Richard’s liver reading), got my driver’s license, began the process of renewing our residence cards, got the TV functioning after having Ziggo come to learn it was on a wrong setting (cost me €50) and had six sessions with Hans (which helped my back, etc.) – one for each of us alone, and the rest for both of us.



The Focus

A pre-nefasti dinner with Santima at La Caramba. With our margaritas, Richard had to be taxied home after. The next day, Kostas and Marta brought Alan up; the child is a darling nine months. That night, we dinned at The Gaia in the Schiller Hotel. Negroni and an excellent meal prepared by the Turkish chef, Ayt Erdogan (no relation). The restaurant had only been open for four weeks.

On the 5th, our cleansing nefastus began. We had coffee at Stephan & Koen’s on our way to the Van Gogh Museum and only learned once there that admission is now only by pre-booked reservation. So we went to the Stedelijk instead. Jacqueline de Jong got better has she progressed, but the lowest floor permanent collection was the most impressive (Picasso, Max Ernst, Van Gogh, etc.) And, if I am remembering correctly, Raquel Van Haver and Maria Lassnig were also interesting. I realise, however, that I have an increasing preference for figurative art over the purely abstract. And that evening, we went to the Nefs for an ordered in Indian meal with them, Jim and Amir. And we got to the Hockney-Van Gogh exhibition the next day. This produced for both of us a lovely high.

My major focus has been the sorting of nearly a half century of collected papers and bank statements in my office on the uppermost floor of the house – disposing of what I could and organizing the rest. Richard tried to do the same with his room and made some progress.

For Jim’s birthday, we had dinner at Tomo Sushi with Amir, Pavel & Tereza. The food was most delicious – so delicious in fact that we returned three days later for another meal, this time with Robin who arrived that day (Friday the 12th) and returned to Paris on Sunday, unfortunately with my museum card. On the day after Jimmy’s birthday, I had a cortisone injection at the OLVG for my trigger finger right thumb. It has helped immensely but may require surgery. The next day, we took Marta and Kostas to Il Primo for an Italian dinner.

On the Ides, Richard fell when he was trying to catch up with me. He was not in immediate pain, but four days later he asked to see Dr. Huygen – something he almost never would do. He thought the pain in his lungs was from smoking too much, but he has severely bruised ribs as well as pain just below his knees. He has been taking paracetamol ever since. On his birthday (the Fordicidia), we began the residence card business at IND.  In the afternoon, we had Kostas’ space cakes and had planned to see the Banksy. But they wiped me out – shades of Palm Springs in fact  - and I could not stand or walk. I vomited as well and am not sure I will ever want to consume a space cake again. Two days later, I was okay. That night it was dinner at the Golden Temple with Vicky & Fred and Jim & Amir.

The following night, Saskia paid us a visit. It was lovely to see her. The next day we had late morning coffees at Ilonka’s. That evening, Pavel and Tereza produced a meal of saag panir and dal which we had upstairs in our dining room. The following evening we enjoyed our pizza experience at Va Piano. In between the sorting and disposing, and with splendid weather, Richard and I would go for afternoon park bench walks (from one bench to the next). Amsterdam became as warm as Cairo and warmer than either Rome or Athens. This was a lovely period.

And finally on the Vinalia Priori, our nefastus ended. We visited David Schors and Migaela at their shop on the Rozengracht. It was delightful to reconnect with them. And that evening it was a return to La Caramba. Fred was too ill, so Vicky only dropped by the say hello to the rest of us: Stephan & Koen, Santima, Laura, Amir & Jim, Pavel & Tereza, and Carole. Again we taxied home. The next day we thought that Willem & Melvin along with the asbestos removers were to repair the leaking pipe, but all that happened was that the asbestos people took a portion for “testing.” Pavel then did an ingenuous set-up using a vacuum tubing to get the water to funnel directly out the window instead of having to empty a large pan at least three times during the night.

For Wednesday the 24th, we had a couple of joints outside Barney’s. This was sheerly idyllic. Pavel and Tereza cooked is another delicious meal. The next evening we met Yvonne, Eric, Koen, Charles & Rocco at the Lievehemel Gallery and then across the street (without Koen) we had dinner at Pasta Basta. It was another lovely evening.  The next day, we got to see part but not all of the “All Rembrandts” at the Rijksmuseum. I liked his self-portrait etchings and landscapes in particular. That evening it was a luscious dinner at De Kas with Carole.

And then it was King’s Day. We ‘ritualised’ throughout the day. It rained some, sunned some and remained windy, cool to almost cold, but dry. We did not reach the Jordaan or ‘Paradise Point’ (both literally and metaphorically) but eventually connected with Eamonn, and then stayed in. With Eamonn the next morning, we had ontbijt, the breakfast buffet, at the Schiller Hotel. After Eamonn departed and a deep nap, we had cappuccini at the Waldorf thanks to Charles. From there, we took an Uber to Koen’s storage gallery which was filled with incredible art. It rained torrentially while we were there. Then another Uber to Yvonne & Eric’s and for a buffet that included lamb. Roos, Koen & Yvonne’s daughter, was there along with Stephen, her boyfriend, his parents and Stephen’s lovely sister Lisa, who served us all drinks. I had gin. Pim & his lover, Eric’s daughter and 7 month old grandson Julius, and several others. It reminded me of our own family.

And then on the 29th, Pavel and Kostas blessedly carried our luggage to the Centraal Station, and off we were to Paris, Marie-Laure and the Blue Room, and Anahuacalli for dinner and margaritas with Robin, Toby and Christine. Stopping beforehand and looking at Notre Dame was heartbreaking.  We have since been to the Calder-Picasso exhibit and then saw the Rue de Poitou flat with the collapsed bathroom ceiling. It is now Beltane Eve. Tomorrow with the start of May, the traditional May Day Parisian anarchist riots are expected to be bolstered by the protesting gilets jaunes. It will be what it will be, but Paris remains for us a magnificent city, and we are coasting now on the lovely time we have had in Amsterdam.


































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