Friday, August 17, 2007

Day Two: Amsterdam


  1. Frost Cakes
  2. Prepare for two-week vacation
  3. Give "The Amsterdam Tour"

The day was slow on the uptake a bit. I had an order for a cake that I should have start on while I was stuck in the hospital, so the whole cake turned out to be a bit more rushed than I would have liked. That along with the fact that it was my first ever art cake, I was a bit more nervous about it than I probably should have been. And to top it all off the whole family was waiting on me to be able to get out the door for our day in Amsterdam. The cake took all morning long to decorate. I don't know why it took so long, but it seemed absolutely forever to make. I had to mix up enough frosting to fill and cover a 12" four-layer cake with enough left over for the art on the top. Then I had to mix the perfect colors to match a Piglet and Pooh with a couple other colors for the balloons. I drew the art first on a piece of wax paper, cut them out, place them on the cake to trace around them, and then fill it in with my colored frosting and outline with the black. It may not sound like much, but when you've got everybody waiting on you and their all buzzing around trying not to act anxious just makes you want to be anxious for them. Or at least that is the way it seemed to me. Finally, after long hours of mixing and drawing I was finished and we ran out the door.

By the way, what do you think of the cake?

Amsterdam was lovely as always. The weather was not to hot and not too cold and allowed for us to stroll through the canal streets at ease. Our first order of business was to find a place to eat, and them having settled on eating traditional Dutch I set out to find a place my girlfriends have told me about. My mother-in-law was not so certain I knew the direction after we kept walking and walking, and I must say I was starting to wonder myself, but I think it was just preparing all of us for the amount of walking we would be doing the rest of the two-weeks. Hubby and I are used to walking the meandering cobblestone streets for block upon interesting block in Amsterdam, so this little trip from Centraal Station to Spuistraat was nothing for us, but the days ahead would wear our legs to rubber and our shoes into the garbage.

Situated in the exact location my friend had so accurately described sat the charming Dutch restaurant of Haesjes Claes. It was situated in typical canal house that must have been merged with another as it created a marvelous wandering feeling as you moved from room to room. I couldn't help but explore the entirety of the building before our orders were taken. I could have always used the excuse of looking for the bathroom, but I think they just left me be once they saw me taking pictures of every corner, window, pot, tile, vase, you-name-it. Just charming! It had seating on many floors, each room getting smaller as you went up. By the third floor I was convinced I had to take a portrait of the family from the window to the street below. (You'll find it in the album "European Tour August 2007" along with more from this adventure.) The food was wonderful and the atmosphere "gezellig". We could hardly pull ourselves away from the place to wander the streets again, but wander we did.

We took them along the canal ring where we pointed out houses that so-and-so lived or where so-and-so got drunk and messed up his meeting with so-and-so. To tell you the truth, it was all rather boring reading the little tidbits from the tour book, so we soon just stopped reading and walked and looked. The bridges really are my favorite and the detail on each houses facade is lovely. Naturally, I have a thing for the windows and shutters as well so you'll see plenty of those in the album.

It was debated whether or not we should take a boat tour, but by the end we had walked most of the tour ourselves. Fortunately we have been on the tour enough times that we could point out facts the boat would have, plus a little extra. Besides we got to stop and take pictures and taste a few bites from the shops as well. What more could you ask? We also had to pick up some pastries for breakfast in the morning. This came in quite handy as it was quite the rush to get packed and out the door the next morning. Especially after a late night of fun on the town of Amsterdam.

We had to take them to Rembrandtplein to see the famous figures from Rembrandt's "Night Watch" and it is the perfect spot for people watching as well. Though we had given them a good flavor of the Dutch food we had not yet gotten them the traditional french fries with mayonnaise, so on a hunt for those we went. I don't know why, but Rembrandtplein must be just too high class of a place for such simple things. We were forced to go into my favorite Irish Pub and get some fish and chips. I was not complaining that the fries were not your typical fare as the atmosphere in this pub is excellent. We all had Guinness beers and big smiles. As the evening wore on the baby took game in collecting all of the Heineken coasters and piling them up just to set her sippy cup on. We had to get a picture of our baby in the bar playing with the Heineken coasters.

Afterwards and well into the evening we made our way past the evening tourist spots. The girls were tired and delirious enough we figured they'd just take the ladies under the red lights to be getting ready for bed having forgotten to pull the shades. As it turns out the girls were one of the main attractions there. The ladies in their nighties were leaning out of their doors to coo at them and pinch their cheeks. We joked with Dad that if he wanted a good deal to remember to bring the kids with him the next time ;) Granted, we may have been the only couples who brought their kids to the red light district while it was at during it's prime time, but they've seen the ladies during the days anyway. Thankfully, they do not yet know why those ladies stand in the windows with their nighties on. My favorite quote from the night came from this part of the trip.

"Mommy, look at all of those pretty lights on the water," said Squirrel Monkey pointing to the reflections dancing in the canal.

"Mmmm, especially the pretty red ones, hu?"

W.C. Report:

It was at this point that I realized we may have some serious issues ahead of us. Grammy seemed to have the need more often than one could find a sparse European toilet. They were amazed that you had to pay for a toilet and that you could not just walk into a place and run into their bathroom.

Tragedy Report:

None today!

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