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.


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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

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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!

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The Trapdoor at the Rijksmuseum

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.nt_rijksmuseum2

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.

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What is worse than dog shit?

Dog shit in a plastic bag.


Dog shit in a plastic bag has the advantage of not sticking to your foot if you step in it, but it doesn’t wash away in the rain and it doesn’t biodegrade. I honestly don’t get this – the dog owner has done the hard part, and then just left it there, as if carrying a sealed plastic bag a mere 30 metres to the nearest rubbish bin was way too much effort.

And now I am the crazy who photographs dog shit. Excellent.

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Cousin Louis

I went up to NDSM to have lunch and a wander around with a friend of mine in the weekend. Although it’s part of Amsterdam it has a creative, even anarchic, feel all its own. After lunch at “Plek” we wandered off and found Neef Louis (cousin Louis). Neef Louis bills itself as “Design Vintage and Industrial”, it seems to be where weird stuff goes to die. Here are my highlights.

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Saturday Market; Cooking on an Italian Theme

I love aubergines, known as eggplant to Americans and Melanzane to Italians. I love the colour and the shiny smooth skin.

I also love the flavour, so I decided to make “Melanzane alla Parmigiana”, and found a great recipe online – so authentic it’s in Italian. I used mozzarella rather than caciocavallo, and canned tomatoes rather than passata. It turned out well, next time I will slice the aubergine a little more thinly, but yum.

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