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If it’s Wednesday, this must be Amsterdam

After all the fuss, so far I’ve been lucky with rain. It rained this morning in Paris, but by the time I left the hotel, it had stopped. It was supposed to rain all day in Amsterdam, but by the time I arrived, it stopped. Keep your fingers crossed that luck continues. It’s been so chilly, so far I’ve worn the only wool turtleneck sweater I brought and my fleece vest nonstop. Must change at some point.

This morning I packed my backpack with essentials, stored my suitcase at the hotel – for 5 euros a day, nothing is free anymore – and took the metro to the Gare du Nord for the train to Amsterdam, easy peasy, just over three hours sailing through farmland. I’m spending two nights with Pam, whom I met only recently. She’s a scientist, was a post-graduate student of my father’s in the seventies; he thought the world of her and she of him, so much so that my paranoid mother suspected they were having an affair. They were not. I connected with her through another of Dad’s students, to ask her, in fact, the truth about the past, and we became friends. She has family in Canada but lived all over the world and loves Amsterdam. And I can see why.

Why? Bicycles! Thousands, hundreds of thousands of them, giant piles of them chained up everywhere. A whole city set up for bikes, separated paths, everyone riding, all ages, many heavy cargo bikes or covered ones for children, almost no helmets, even for kids, because riding is so safe. Love is! And these are glorious Dutch bikes, so expensive back home, very sturdy with upright handles, comfortable and easy to ride. I am so jealous. There’s lots else in this civilized city, like organized recycling and great transit. Transit in Paris is phenomenal. We are so far behind in Ontario, and will be further behind when our dinosaur car-loving premier is done. It makes me sad and angry.

Pam met the train and we got the tram to her flat (she had a guest transit pass for me – another convenience we do not have) where she, a widow, has lived for 30 years. Talked and talked, and then, when the sun came out briefly, went out for a walk. What a beautiful city, with its canals and houseboats and rows of pretty, extremely narrow houses, making mine – 16 feet wide – look bloated. We saw the Anne Frank house from across the canal, very much changed since I visited in 1979, when the visit was simple. Now you need to book months in advance and there are huge crowds. That’s good, I’m glad people are honouring her, but I’m also glad I was nearly alone when there, in that sacred place.

I took Pam for dinner at a nearby restaurant, a very casual friendly student-y place, good Middle Eastern food. Much more talk. And then home, to sit at our computers in silence, the way old friends, or new friends who feel like old friends, can comfortably do. For tomorrow, I found out the Van Gogh museum is sold out, should have booked, am sorry about that, but I’m going to the Rijksmuseum, where I fell in love with Johannes Vermeer in 1979, as detailed in Loose Woman. What an interesting world.

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3 Responses to “If it’s Wednesday, this must be Amsterdam”

  1. Christopher Loranger says:

    Try this: When someone is going to take your photo, smile an EXAGGERATED smile. IF you think you’re making it silly and to big, you won’t. We have to do something about these stern faces in your photos, Miss Beth, because you have a lovely smile. SMILE BIG!!! ❤️ Chris

  2. Christopher Loranger says:

    Sorry about the typos. “too big”

  3. Beth Kaplan says:

    Clo, thank you for your advice. I”m sorry to tell you that when I smile a big smile, my eyes disappear and it looks like I’m screaming in pain. Eli saw such a photo once and hooted with laughter. It’s just not a good face for the camera. But I will try not to look worried in every shot. I’m usually about to correct the photographer. Of course.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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