Lousy Food and Warm Beer!

Reasturants to see; Mister Coco’s, which proudly advertises “Lousy Food and Warm Beer!”

Ok, this stuff is coming somewhat out of order; deal. It’s the result of not writing it all down consistently the last couple of days. Today is the first day since Friday that I was feeling well enough to really go randomly exploring. I got on the bicycle and just started riding. I spotted a couple of tall masts and ended up at the Dutch Maritime Museum. Aside from some very cool maps (parchment maps, dating from the 1500s and 1600s) they have a 20-gun sailing ship, fully restored, with Dutch actors meandering around and flogging each other. I don’t know why; I don’t speak Dutch.

The ship was huge, really neat, and just a tad cramped. I have a picture of myself in one of the aft window cabins, sitting down and still ducking. They also have a lot of art depicting Dutch sailing ships shooting at other sailing ships. The Dutch vs. the English, the Dutch vs. the Spanish, the Dutch vs. the French, the Dutch vs. the English and the French, the Dutch and the French vs. the English, the Dutch and the English vs. the French, ….

I gathered from this that alliances were somewhat haphazard during the Age of Sail.

Also on display were remnants and art/pictures from WWII. The Dutch navy was largely annihilated in the first three years of the war. Most escaped the fall of Holland, but the Dutch Royal Navy fought in exile under Allied command in most of the major actions in the Atlantic and early Pacific, until there weren’t any major ships left.

As a side note, Amsterdam was the site of one of the only, if not the only, protests against deportation of the Jews in occupied Europe. The Dutch in the Jordan, which is the old working district, went on strike and called a series of outdoor protests, telling Dutch citizens to hide and protect the Jews of the city. It didn’t stop the carnage, but you have to respect their courage.

After the museum I rode the bicycle randomly through the city, which is totally bike-friendly. It was a beautiful and mellow day. This did a lot to restore my spirits after several days trapped in a hostel and hurting.

The hostel is Stoner Central. By Saturday I’d decided my immune system had healed enough that I could visit a ‘coffee shop’ with intent, and did so. I subsequently spent a couple of evenings watching the European versions of MTV and realizing that some music videos were never meant to be seen sober.

This was entertaining as far as it went, but I’ve never really been big on loafing around stoned as a lifestyle. As an occasional diversion it’s fine, but only in smallish doses and only when there isn’t anything else to do. I was in Amsterdam, and there were -plenty- of things to do, provided I could get to them, so in short order I was chomping at the bit and getting irritated with all of the stoner hippie/frat boys around me.

The Dutch like Hip Hop. I find this deeply disturbing. Despite the fact that the national color is orange, I had hoped that they had better taste than that. I’m only slightly mollified to discover that it is a European thing in general, much like their love of Westerns. It’s a definitively American thing (Hip Hop), and they think it’s cool in the same way that I think it’s cool that they speak all those foreign languages. And for about as good a reason.

They also play a lot of Techno, which works for me just fine. I’ve yet to find or get a good lead on a Goth/Industrial dance club. I suspect that the problem is that there isn’t enough angst in Amsterdam to make a single good Cure song (oxymoron), the Dutch not being the most angst-ridden or unhappy people in the world, despite their adventurous and exotic social programs (legal prostitution, legal pot, legal homosexuality, legal use of the word ‘poot,’ legal deportation of tourists to Belgium). I’m sure there are some really pissed-off Dutch out there somewhere; I just haven’t run into any yet.

The Dutch have a concept called Geitzerpoot, or something like that. It seems to translate into “To Loaf.” The implementation is that the Dutch take every reasonable opportunity to lounge and enjoy themselves. Such a hedonistic approach to life is great from my perspective as an abstract, but in reality it means that restaurant service is absolutely lousy. The waiter is usually far too busy experiencing Geitzlpootgluck (or whatever) as represented by discussing with the cute waitress the finer points of sending tourists to Belgium. Assuming he/she remembers that you might want food, he/she is likely to be polite and helpful. Not -quick-, but at least polite and helpful. In contrast to a typical Seattle waitress who will decide to see how good you are at catching your soup bowl without dumping the soup, the Dutch waitress will deliver it to your table, assuming she remembers where that is. Since it’s also a Dutch habit to camp out at a table from approximately 2pm to 1am (time to get started on the evening) you have to signal vigorously for your check, or it will never arrive. Setting the tablecloth on fire and singing will also encourage them to remember ways to get rid of you.

Have I mentioned not to ask the Dutch for directions? Just thought I’d ask. In case I’d forgotten. Not that’s it’s come up again or anything ….

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