We spent yesterday quietly at the house with Cyril and Helena and
their kids, Ciara and Liam. Cyril worked with my dad when I was a
teen, and I consider him family. I met his wife, Helena, a bit later
but she has also become family. Their home is beautiful, and their
kids ridiculously cute. Ciara is 3 and already trilingual- Helena is
Swedish, Cyril is Irish, and they speak Dutch at school.
When we arrived, Liam had a stomach bug.
Wait, back up.
The arrival is worth telling. We bought a seat reservation from Paris
to Den Haag HS, via Strasburg. We assumes that we would change trains
in Strasbrg and then go to Den Haag. Hah! We were delayed in Brussells
for 25 minutes, causing us to miss our Strasburg connection. We
finally figured out how to get onto another train, only to find out
that that track between Rotterdam and Den Haag were shut down.
Awesomeness. So we took a suburban train, then a bus, then another
suburban train, arriving an hour late- with no way to call and tell
Cyril. Shit. See Noel freaking out. We finally found a phone store and
managed to pay to use a phone- Poor Cyril opened the conversation
with, "Where the hell are you?!"
We finally made it to their home, though, and settled in gratefully.
Like everything about the both of them, their home is warm, simply
decorated, and incredibly comfortable. We stayed up til 2am talking
We spent the next day relaxing and playing with the kids and doing
laundry- Oh the paeans I could write to the joys of access to a washer
The evening brought a walk to the ice cream shop with everyone, and a
renewed appreciation for Holland. Everything is laid out with a
deliberate preference for pedestrians and bicyclists, and the amount
of greenspace is incredible. Pedestrians have automatic right of way
at intersections, and public transit goes everywhere.
This morning, we decided to be less lazy and wander Amsterdam. We
hadn't intended to go but decided we might as well. A tram to the
train station and a suburban train later, we are wandering the famous
Amsterdam- and yes, we've passed any number of coffee shops. Instead
of pot, however, we're indulging in my real addiction- tea in a cute
little shop. Unfortunately, it's not really a tea shop but a hip
dessert shop that sells tea. Ah well, even bagged Earl Grey is good,
and I can say I ate a chocolate slut (cake) in Amsterdam ;-)
From there, we took a tour if the Torture Musum. Designed with a
distinctly anti-authoritarian stance, it chronicles medieval torture
devices used both by the Inquisition and by judicial authorities.
Everything from scolds' bridles to the wheel to the iron maiden. It
was incredibly cool- and very sobering. I was impressed by the line
they walked between accessible and interesting information, and
respect for those te instruments were once used on.
After, we wandered for a bit in search of the sex museum. I found a
teacup, took pictures of a couple of beautiful Shires pulling a
Heineken bierkarte, and drooled in the New Rock store. Unfortunately,
they didn't have any boots that were quite what I was looking for-
although I did fall in love with a buttersoft pair of mid-calf black
laceup boots with nice flat soles. Unfortunately, €70 was more than I
When we finally found the sex museum- after a detour through the pot-
reeking tourist district- we were a bit disappointed that it was so
high in touristy erotica and so low in actual history or information.
Afterwards, we searched briefly for the Erotica Museum, but after
being assaulted by the smell of pot in the tourist quarter, we decided
that we weren't quite *that* interested in finding it. Instead, we
shopped, wandered the Vodka Museum, and ate pommes frites for lunch
before eventually heading home to dinner with Cyril and Helena and the
kids. Please to be noting- Dutch ice cream is waaaay better than
American. Richer and creamier with a stronger vanilla flavor, it
paired terrifically with Helenas apple crisp for dessert.
We all stayed up and talked later, despite everyone's exhaustion,
knowing that it may be a few years before we see one another again- it
had been 8 before this visit!
Finally, though, we crawled into bed, prepped to go to London the next
The only real blasphemy is the refusal of joy. -"Jeffrey"