Test of Friendship

I was wondering along Haarlemmerdijk (the dodgy end) behind two old tramps when one of them spotted a half-smoked joint lying on the ground.

Tramp 1

Aaaw, look, look here

Tramp 2

Thanks, don’t wanna lose that. (picks it up)

Tramp 1

Just looking out for you, bro.

Saturday Market – Deli shopping

Years ago my aunt introduced me to the joys of delicatessens, the range of cheeses, cured meats, olives and prepared foods were richer and more aromatic than the usual home-made fare. There’s a similar shift in the stalls at the market, with Spanish ham, Greek olives and Italian pasta for sale next to tasty pies and spicy fish mixes. Yum.

Saturday Market; Sculpture

This sculpture stands at the corner of Lindengracht and Brouwersgracht, and it shows Theo Thijssen. He was a teacher, education reformist, writer and politician who was born in the Jordaan. This week the sculpture was decorated with autumn vegetables.


Saturday Market; Autumn Aromas

I love the Saturday market, it beats supermarket shopping for quality – and entertainment. It also keeps you closer to the seasons, today there were some more signs of autumn. We’ve had a long dry summer, by Dutch standards, it’s about time for the clocks to change and the temperatures to drop. It’s my favourite season even though there’s always a slight sense of loss as the days draw in.

Saturday Market; the Greek Edition

Today’s treat from the market was delicious creamy feta cheese from the Greek stall. The stall is run by a UK/Brit couple, they have lots of delicious samples to try; stuffed paprika, hummus, olives, feta. They’re knowledgeable and generous, well worth a visit. Today they also had beer from a microbrewery – but no samples of that.


Less happy to see signs of autumn at the flower stall – although I love the colour.


Only in Amsterdam

morningI stopped at a favourite cafe for real coffee this morning on my way to work. Something to fortify me for the day to come.

The cafe I choose happened to be opposite a coffee shop. I noticed a very nice, clean-cut couple trying to get into the coffee shop and being surprised that it was shut. For the unitiated coffee shops in Amsterdam sell marijuana either as joints for smoking or in hash cookies. This was at about 8.30 – I don’t know what time it usually opens but my guess is that coffee shop customers aren’t generally friends of mornings.

The couple didn’t look like the usual clientele, but tourists try anything once I guess.

After trying the door, the couple walked on, into the cafe I was in and ordered a cappuccino and an espresso.

I didn’t tell them.

Image; Dampkring / Michael Delany / CC BY SA 2.0

Driver’s Licence

I’ve been here so long I need to renew my driver’s licence (they last 10 years).

I managed to make it hard for myself by screwing up the first step – twice. Meaning that I had to request a new DigiD twice. DigiD is the government online identification that lets you complete applications, requests, tax returns etc online.

The next step was to find out whether I was “geschikt”, or “suitable” to be given a licence. According to the CBR, responsible for administering Dutch Driver’s licences,  I am.

Then I needed to get a passport photo; for which I had to re-arrange my hair (apparently you must show your ears) and then re-arrange my face (apparently you must not show a smile).

With all of that done I went off to lodge my application at the Gemeente (Townhall/city council). In the Netherlands a lot of national documents, including passports, are administered by the city councils. The actual lodging of the application was quick and painless – and cost 38 euro. It’ll be ready in five days. Hurrah.

driversqueueHowever the waiting to lodge my application took a while, about forty minutes. To add to the fun the ticket number the receptionist gave me was “L434″, and there are tickets in the “D”, “O”, “K” series, so it was a bit hard to judge how long I would wait.  I got there just after 9am, and when I left just before 10am the waiting room was busy and there was a queue at reception. So I recommend getting there as early as possible – the office opens at 8.30.

Bonus points for me – I did the whole thing in Dutch. Goen gedaan, toch!