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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
However 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!
The Rijksmuseum designed by Cuypers was built as a “gate” to Amsterdam, as it stands just outside the line of the 18th Century city walls. It balances the Central Station, at the other end of the city, and also designed by Cuypers. It houses some of the most important artifacts of Dutch history and the famous of Dutch art, including the Night Watch. Here’s a view of it showing the gate structure at its centre, the Night Watch is displayed directly over the arch.
The Night Watch went back into it’s former position when the Rijksmuseum was re-opened – one of the few works not to be moved.
It’s considered the most famous painting by Dutch people, it has such cultural significance that it has its own escape hatch at the museum. A guide told me that there’s a trap door just in front of the painting, and the painting can be dropped to safety. The black section here is apparently the outside part of the trapdoor.
The trapdoor wasn’t installed for the renovation though, it was installed in the early 1930’s, and used in 1939 to removed the Night Watch before the art-acquisitive Nazis arrived. The painting spent the war in hiding, as did a number of artworks from the Rijksmuseum. The museum could re-open following the war with an almost intact collection.