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FAMOUSUNCLEART Apr 17th, 2006 12:12 PM

FamousUncleArt - Goes on the road again - Netherlands Trip Report
As many of you know my almost 79 year old (May 29th) Dad was sick last year, but is on the road again. Thanks for all your good wishes when he was ill. Please feel free to make insult, comment or correct his rambling, Art looks forward to your feedback!
I flew out on Delta Airlines, Delta? I expected to see the Dukes of Hazards in the cock pit and the girls from HEE HAW, but no they were run of the mill air crew. Delta is sort of run down, little features like the uniforms looked as if they were washed in a stream.

The worse feature is they had only one film and it was projected in the center of the plane, no little TV in the seat in front of me, I knew it was going to be a long flight. It started out slow also. JFK was jammed with teen age girls and boys (they had a long break) and religious frightened looking people hugging bibles when they boarded. I had a miniature bible in my pocket, I didn't want any one to know I was scared to fly.

The Delta flight wasn't crowded and I got an aisle seat and when the gates closed, the window seat was not occupied. We were about 1000 in line and taxied slower than I walk. A man across from the aisle leaned over and with a Dutch accent asked me if I would mind if his son could sit next to the window, I bit my tooth and said it was fine.

I have heard the line that he looked he came from central casting. This kid did. He had blond hair, bright cheeks of tan, and a compelling nature. I think he was four or five, he climbed over and sat, he was awed by seeing a line of jets in a line. He asked questions, some I couldn't answer and at one point when we had been in line for forty minutes, he turned to me and with excitement asked "Are we flying now?" I didn't have the courage to tell him a lie.

Most of you know I delight in flying when I have one of those little TV's in the seat ahead of me with a menu of different movies. The flight would fly by as I flew through old movies. Dingy Delta had one movie, a black and white British film something about an imaginary place.

The flight attendants came about with booze and I thought one of those miniature bottles would slake my thirst until they were selling them for five dollars. I felt like I should host a telethon for Delta.

The landing was smooth; I looked for my VW size black luggage. Before the
flight I had pasted a bunch of computer labels with a big Z on it. I waited and waited, everybody from my flight were gone. And finally a staff person came up to me and asked if she could help. I said I was waiting for my luggage, she asked my name, and she said '`OH Mr. Ziggoas your bag is the only one on the carousel, I said that it can't be. The dry labels came off during the flight.

I got a private cab driver gave him the address and we got there, I realize I did not my keys. With my usual aplomb I panicked. We, the driver and I buzzed a neighbor of his in the hopes that he might have the keys, A bearded man looking disheveled popped his head out and after a discussion went back in, and in a moment a woman in her fifties, clutching her robe, looking as if she had stepped out of the shower (she did), The cabbie and I tried to explain what happened. She smiled a broad smile and a sweet come in nod and I was saved. She is a teacher and the old man is a famous sculptor. She made a couple of calls and nobody knew Bastian--my home exchanger== since he had only lived there for a month.

I offered to pay for a long distance call to my daughter so she might send me the keys which I had left home. She told me not to worry, I could use the phone, I Got on the phone and asked Connie what happened and that I'd get a hotel room and she could mail me the keys, but she interrupted and said that she had the number of Bastian's friend and she would call him. She did and he had keys and he would come over. I began to thank her in my usual effusive style and she said "Its four oíclock in the morning." I felt awful I had awakened her in my stupidity.

The friend came over with keys, I thanked him and unpacked. Can you guess what I had put into my ziploc baggie of my meds? YOU GOT IT, the keys.

I wonder if a similar event happened in Manhattan, if someone came to my door and asked to come in a make an international phone call on my phone. I would like to think I would but probably I would not.

GreenDragon Apr 17th, 2006 12:32 PM

I can just picture the sheepish expression on your face, guiltily looking around to see if anyone noticed you had the keys all the time! Great report so far, FamousUncleArt!!! Can't wait for more!

yeadonite Apr 17th, 2006 12:42 PM

You can imagine my heart attack when the phone rang at 4:30 AM. I was panicked, what would he do with no where to go? I started searching for hotels available on Good Friday and found the cheapest on Hotwire was 258 a night and most hotels were sold out on Saturday. I was so relieved he found them that I could not yell!

Connie, Art's daughter

GreenDragon Apr 17th, 2006 12:48 PM

I think 'heart attack' would have been my reaction, too~! :) Glad that, at least, worked out for him!

SuzieC Apr 17th, 2006 12:49 PM

Oh good! Uncle Art is back! Horray!

RufusTFirefly Apr 17th, 2006 01:05 PM

Looking forward to the rest of the report--we're headed to that part of the world in June.

gomiki Apr 17th, 2006 01:36 PM

Oh Goodie, UncleArt...excuse me..FamousUncleArt is on the road again!! Off to a rough start but I can hardly wait for more!

Scarlett Apr 17th, 2006 02:37 PM

I am SO glad to hear that Uncle Art is on the Road again!! YAY!!
Now I will read this through and come back with comments that vary, are never insults and are usually things like <i>oh goodie</i> and <i> I love it :D</i>

FAMOUSUNCLEART Apr 17th, 2006 05:51 PM

The Apartment
First off the building is in the Spinoza park area, he is a philosopher on ethics --I think (flanneruk :)))--but I donít know why itís named after him. The building has a dark reddish East German look to it--the old commie concept that housing should be a simple (READ UGLY) one. It put me off at first sight.

Also, I found out that it is in a neighborhood which has frequent break ins.
As a New Yorker you might feel that I would accept this with a shrug, I don't. I tried to get in using my keys but didnít realize there was a third lock at the foot of the door. Every window is long almost from floor to ceiling except in the kitchen and it brings light to the place and of course, the break in artists can see who is at home, etc. However, again, as a New Yorker, I shrugged this off. But the living room is large and sparse, one torch lamp for the whole room. Good thing I know how to type without needing to see the key pad. The only problem here is that the keyboard is slightly different.

The toilet is in a closet and a step or two away from the shower, `I still have not figured out how to turn the hot and cold knobs, a large bedroom with round plastic ball for light and another small closet which look much like solitary confinement cells in Warner Brothers 1940's prison films, Connie will sleep here and I have the master bedroom.

Generally the apartment is working well but itís a bit cold and we have a moveable heater to heat up the space.

kopp Apr 17th, 2006 06:30 PM

Welcome back, FamousUncleArt! So glad you're able to travel again.

Sounds like the trip is off to a great start. Keys in the meds bag - perfect!

crefloors Apr 17th, 2006 06:46 PM

So good to see you back. Glad you're feeling up to traveling again and looking forward to a good read.

doonhamer Apr 18th, 2006 04:55 AM

Just to echo all the other shouts of &quot;Hooray&quot; - glad to see you're up &amp; aboput, and even better, travelling, and even better still, posting on here! looking forward to reading your posts - enjoy the Netherlands (my favourite country, apart from my own)

tod Apr 18th, 2006 08:40 AM

Your trip reports are always so interesting - keep it up UncleArt!!

yeadonite Apr 18th, 2006 12:47 PM

Easter Sunday In Amsterdam
I went out to the streets of Amsterdam to celebrate Easter when a homeless man sidled up to me, smiled and wished me a Happy Easter. I said &quot;It's not mine, I'm Greek Orthodox and we celebrate next week.&quot; He had no idea of what I was saying. I gave him a euro and walked on. The streets were relatively empty but mostly homeless people and tourists, I suspect that if there were no tourists here there would be no homeless people.

On my walk, I noticed a mirror image of me, unshaven, and bald, in a doorway trying to roll a cigarette, I suspect it was tobacco and not pot, and the paper trembled in his hands, he couldn't quite complete it. I felt a certain affinity to him.

There were different groups of homeless people of all ages sitting on the stoops or doorways smoking pot, drinking or just sitting in despair. The people who lived in those homes either were not home or did not try to evict the homeless people. And I donít know if this happened every Sunday or just
Easter Sunday. It struck me that the Dutch were much more tolerant than we are.

Although there were few people in small knots scurrying along head down, not talking contrasted with groups talking slowly head down. A sense of serious concern about the meaning of the day. The oddest groups were on bicycles, at first I thought they were not families but discerned they were family and friends going to church and with certain religious sense about it. Both Church goers moved fast afoot and on bikes, and homeless group couldnít get to them. We tourists were better targets, some were very polite and made an attempt to be chaste and begged in a religious way by taking on the happy Easter pitch.

There is one man, a happy man who makes bird sounds and noises and as he stands outside the nearest supermarket and knew most of the neighborhood. He had no teeth, face flushed red and topped with orange hair and up close he smelled like a horse or dog. But the oddest feature about him was seven or eight pigeons flew around his bobbing head, never landing on him or bothering him, to me they looked like they were his pets. I have seen this two or three times and the man never shooed the pigeons away and when he moved away the pigeons moved with him!

FAMOUSUNCLEART Apr 19th, 2006 06:02 PM

Easter Monday
I never knew that Monday after Easter was a holiday. I donít ever remember it
being celebrated as a-close-all-the-stores holiday. I went out to shop and no shops were open. I went into that urban monster called the center of the city. It was jammed with people who, like me, don't practice Easter Monday.
In the center of Amsterdam I saw a McDonalds and suddenly I got the urge for a Big Mac which I never ate at home and didn't plan to eat them here.

I went too my favorite restaurant and did something that I did not do in Athens--too much car exhaust or Paris--the waiters were all-knowing and snobbish--I sat outdoors. The waitress who knows me as a ďbig American
tipper' gave me a menu and my heart stopped when I saw 'American Hamburg' on the menu. I ordered it and waited.

It was a perfect seat, a large tree to my right, and passer-byes of all sorts added to the perfection of being in Amsterdam on a sunny day. I waited. Old couples--my age--riding twin bikes, men riding holding the handles with one hand, the other in their pockets, women driving and looking beautiful as they drove by a bit too fast for me. I waited. The sun was slowly sinking in the canal and the shadow of the tree creeped closer to me. I got a bit chilled but I thought my American hamburger would warm me up.

I waited. Two smiling men with came up to my table, stopped there smiling down at me, of course I was in their shadow and I got colder. They held booklets ďThe Watch Tower.&quot; They spoke to me in Dutch. I said &quot;I don't speak Dutch.&quot; They both smiled, nodded okay, and the one man said. &quot;Do you speak English?&quot; I said, &quot;No I canít speak English&quot; with a grin. He grinned and they went off to other tables.

I waited. By now the cold shadow of that damn tree covered me like a damp towel. My waitress came up and gently placed a dish as big as a Frisbee in front of me. On it was a green salad with peeled carrots, a separate bowl of McDonald look-alike fries, a fried egg on toast, and underneath it were two small hard shapes which I realized were overdone hamburgers. I ate everything except the hamburgers.

Scarlett Apr 19th, 2006 06:16 PM

Ha! perfect! The cold shade, &quot; I don't speak English&quot; and you ate everything BUT the hamburgers. :D

kenderina Apr 19th, 2006 06:28 PM

Famousuncleart is back on the road , I'm very glad to hear that :) I love your reports, I don't know if you want to be funny...but you are !! :)

Robdaddy Apr 19th, 2006 06:56 PM


All of your trip reports have been so wonderfully entertaining, and this one is no exception.

I can only pray that I make it to your age and still have the zest for life that you do. Please continue! Your sweetness of spirit and sense of humor really shine through!

SusanEva Apr 19th, 2006 08:01 PM

WooHoo, FamousUncleArt is back.

When you host your telethon for Delta, I'll join you in fund raising for Northwest -- they're charging an extra $15 to sit in exit seats. Wonder why they haven't all returned to quarter slots on the bathroom doors?

HATE how stupid my fingers are when I type on a Euro-keyboard - so used to the patterns on my own computer. Sounds like the good news about having low light levels in the apartment is that you can't really read too closely for typos :)

Thanks for your great descriptions of the street life in the city. I still can't believe how many bicycles there are and how swiftly and confidently they are ridden through the crowds, over bridges, dodging potholes, etc.

Looking forward to reading more.
Best wishes,

yeadonite Apr 21st, 2006 05:21 AM

A poker player, Ric, he of musical talent and Hair I would sell my soul for, told me about a bar he stumbled into when playing a gig at the Theatre
Carre. He had been there ten years or so earlier and I went into the bar,
but asked if Chris was there, a huge man at the bar told me Chris sold the
bar, he sounded angry and walked out.

The beautiful bartendress told me that he had bought the bar. I sat there
and so as not to look rude, I looked at the menu and Bitterballen looked interesting, I assumed it was meatballs. I was talking about it to the bartender when the maitre de turned up and said with a grin &quot;Alcohol&quot; I said no thanks thinking it was some kind of sweet filled with booze. She laughed, every Dutch girl seems to laugh at me, and said &quot;I said 'Lekke' which means you'll like it.&quot; I ordered them and yes &quot;Like Mikey I lekke!&quot;

Two houses in Amsterdam, Rembrandts and Anne Frank. I recommend both, Rembrandt's home built in 1606 looks like a false front in a MGM movie, and
Anne Frank looks simple, without grandeur, but sadder, moving. I got the
sense of her being there, not a ghost but a fond memory of someone who I
got to love and died too young and needlessly.

I was moved by a display of what she read, mostly movie magazines, I stood in front of it and tried not to cry, I just coughed and moved away.

Later in the afternoon I sat at an outdoor cafe (getting to be much smoother about it) and noticed about twenty young men, some looking like bikers, some looking like students, they were sitting at the Rembrandts Corner. They speaking a polyglot of English and Dutch and they were talking got it Rembrandt.

In its window of the restaurant there is a sign reading &quot;This is not Rembrandts home, its two doors down&quot; with an arrow pointing in the direction. I liked it.

While looking for a photo shop, I wandered into a thriving farm market. A large percentage of the people shopping were Muslim women. I have never seen a steady group of them even in NYC, of course, I live in Manhattan. My point is they were covered in dark full flowing dresses with burka. I saw a steady stream, sans husbands, smiling, giggling, and haggling. All I could focus on where those lovely faces. One must look at their faces, I mean, come on, that's it. And for me, it works, I walked away with a thought. How many beautiful women have I seen on Fifth Avenue and never or nearly never, looked deeply into their faces.

I will tell you about my cheesey encounter in my next posting.

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