Our man [formally] of Amsterdam


Notes from the Cell
October 16, 2009, 19:31
Filed under: Amsterdam, Cycling, Uni

Confirmed houseboat key pick up for Sunday midday with Andy. Rode past this morning, nobody on board. New barista at my cafe and she ignored me completely – twice I had to ask for croissant, and the dubble espresso served in small ceramic cup. Why is the world so unkind?  It is strange how this run-down ‘hole in the wall’ cafe attracts so many tourists looking for directions. The premises are not that enticing, with dated decor, surly but usually attentive staff, peeling posters, magazines and coasters spread everywhere and coffee crystals crunch underfoot, yet for some reason, tourists pour in. It’s close to uni on Fridays, and the back corner table under the pendant light is always free, which is why I like it. And they usually serve my dubble espresso in a glass with extra hot water. But not today.

Class over (American Literature). Two weeks running the 2-metre tall Marius has not made it. You notice people of his height when they’re not there. Returned library books and picked up reading list for first class back after the break.

Friday is second-hand book market day in the square down at the end of the Spuistraat. Implacable weather promised and it dutifully showed up;  strong cold gusts blowing many stationery bikes over (and almost rolled a few bikes on the move). Nothing bought this time. Coffee Connection for free Wi-Fi and water views and papers with news.  Daniel from Tamworth (England) is reading at the sun-drenched bench in front of the window, intently, so I don’t disturb him.

Coffee Company, for free Wi-Fi and papers with news with sun-drenched bench on left

Coffee Company, for free Wi-Fi and papers with news and sun-drenched bench on left

Lunch average – BLTC at Cafe de Prins and glas of German riesling. Roadworks on Herengracht force a detour via  Haarlemmerstraat; too crowded on the street with growers’ market. Push bike, buy bananas and feel cold.

Head to Wolvenstraat for haircut. No queue, Yahoo! Thirty euros for a basic barber’s  trim; unbelievable. Marissa averages about four heads an hour, six or seven hours a day. Do the maths; and she’s a one-women operation, complete with stripy pole out the front. All cash, no credit. Good gig this. Her fox terrier usually sits in the shampoo chair and barks at each new customer. She tells Spike to be quiet. He is, until the next customer.

Wind whipping along Prinsengracht from the north making it physically hard to cycle home. Some have to dismount and push. Gloves good.

Get text saying poker cancelled. Inclement weather the reason? Go figure, but glad about that. Dinner is two beers, six meatballs and three Greene chapters of A Burnt-out Case at Cafe Blaauwhooft. Smokers encroaching inside because too cold on the terrace. Tough! Read more Greene later in the Cell as trees and leaves screamed long into the night.

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