Monday, April 10, 2006

Re-Entry Mode

Last night was not a good night’s sleep. It sounded like someone was tapping a nail into the wall on the other side of my bed headboard. That woke me continually, but when I did get to sleep, I dreamed of students not turning in their papers on time. Ron calls this my re-entering stage; this is the time when I know it is getting close to going back to the routine of home again. There will be papers to read and correct and a professional article to write, but thankfully, I will still be off from school until the 19th of April.

Hearing the alarm at 9:30 am was not a pleasant sound, but I got up anyway. I could hear my new neighbor in the shower, so I did my preliminaries in the room until I heard him go back to his room. While I was waiting, I uploaded yet again, the pictures I took yesterday. I did it last night only to realize 1 ½ hours later, that I uploaded the 239 pictures without the captions. I deleted the album and started it again.
My new neighbor and I went to breakfast almost simultaneously, but did not meet until we were seated in the breakfast room and gave our room numbers again to the multitasking clerk. Retrospectively, I cannot remember his name, but he is from Costa Rica, works for Dole bananas as an accountant and has a business trip to London each year. He extends it to come to Amsterdam and some other cities before heading back. We talked all during breakfast and then he was off to an exhibit at a museum and I had intended to go to the Indonesian exhibit at the New Church.
My transportation pass expired at 11:15 today and I left the hotel at 11:00. By rights, I could have taken the tram, but the air was cool, clear, and fresh, so I thought the walk would be therapeutic for my aching legs that were abused yesterday. It was a relaxed pace as the path chosen was not the most frequented by the mobs of tourists. It is the one with the least number of shops on the way.
In my mind, the figure of four Euros for admission to the Indonesian exhibit happened to stick. As I was handing a 20 Euro bill to the cashier, she was just finishing the words “10 Euros, please”. Opps! Did I really want to see this exhibit 10 Euros worth? Not really! I could barely find Indonesia on a map if I had to do it under pressure, why did I really care? As this mental tennis match was happening, I already had my change and ticket in hand. Too inhibited to say, “Sorry, I just realized that I did not care that much about Indonesia that much, can I have a refund”, I went in anyway. What was option B? Well, I could walk the same streets that I have covered six times already to the point on knowing each manhole cover in a five mile radius or I could spend some time broadening my mind. The decision of whether or not it was worth the money came tumbling down to a final verdict when I asked if pictures were allowed. I was told that they were not. Well if I cannot take photos, then why am I here? You might as well tie my hands behind my back and then tell me to make a speech.
After two hours of roaming around the exhibits and watching a 14 minute movie, I felt justified in leaving. There was one spectacular sculpture from the 13th century of a female deity. The detail was exquisite. This validated the expense. Sculpture has always been my favorite form of art, but at the moment, I am reading The Agony and the Ecstasy, so I am fine tuned to appreciating it.
Okay, Mr. Intellectual, what do you do now? Your transportation pass has expired, it is not worth 6.30 Euro for a 24 hour pass and you cannot make sense of the stripkaart, so what do you do now? It looks like you do what you have been doing all along, you walk. A latte sounded really appetizing and there are two places I knew would not disappoint me. One was around the corner from the hotel, so I headed back down to the one with the rainbow coffee canisters. It was a long walk with sore legs, so I needed to fortify myself halfway with two muesli cookies. At the coffee shop, I was able to get a seat right under the lilies that had photographed a couple of days ago. Again, with the slow wilting of the flowers, their changed personalities called for being photographed once again. While the camera was at hand, I was able to capture a baby with a humorous hat as mom was getting her off of the bike. I wanted to get a secret shot of the woman sitting across from me, but she shifted and spoiled the mood or my mood; I am not sure which.
It is at least two miles back to the hotel from this coffee shop. I tried walking in a way I had never done before to see some new sights, but the glitch in that plan is that there are not always bridges to get over the canals where you need them. That plan was not as fruitful as I had intended, but I did come across a gay bookstore that I have gone to back in 1984. At this point, I do need to say that coffee shop is not a euphemism for anything more than a caffeine stop. Smoking weeds give me a headache and set my sinuses off, so I do avoid those. The bookstore as well is not euphemistic for a porn store. This is a legitimate bookstore that sells books, magazines, and gay themed movies. I could not believe that they were selling new copies of novels I had read in the 70s. Who would have believed John Reichy’s novels would still be around today and in new editions besides? It was a real time warp experience.
As I was walking, I was debating the pros and cons of traveling alone. This occurred to me because after spending the last 12 ½ years in a relationship, it is rare that I travel solo. The only other times that I have were either for educational reasons or to see my nephews, but never strictly for a vacation.
Pro – You can eat wherever you want without anyone saying “I don’t feel like that tonight.”
Con – You have to decide on your own what you don’t feel like eating tonight.
Pro – There are no time constraints. You can get up and go when you wish.
Con – There is no one to push you out of the hotel door.
Pro – You can spend as much time as you want in a store, a museum, or a coffee shop.
Con – You can spend too much time in a store, a museum, or a coffee shop.
Pro – You can walk as much as you want and not have to worry about anyone else’s needs.
Con – You don’t have someone with better sense then you do who will say it is time to take a tram now.
Pro – You can sit at dinner and ignore everyone else if you choose to.
Con – You are sitting alone at dinner being ignored by everyone since they choose to.
I know there are many who travel alone and love it. I have never been one of them. When I have traveled alone in the past, it was only because I could not get anyone to go with me. That was never a deterrent for me to go somewhere. I would rather go it alone than not go at all.
The chill in the air was turning frosty, so going back to the hotel did not seem like a bad idea at that point. As I ventured over well worn paths, I look another look at this lock and realized there is a bagel shop next door. Locks and Bagels is the name of this photo. I cracked up.
It took an hour or so to blog yesterday’s ventures. It took six edits to get the font correct and I am not sure yet that it is, but working on a laptop with a touchpad, my fingers are getting calloused. Placing pictures in is a major hassle. Each picture goes to the top regardless of where you try placing it and then needs to be dragged into place. This is especially difficult with the small screen of a laptop, so I will improve them when I get home and am working with a swivel screen monitor and a mouse.
For dinner, I went to the falafel place that Ron and I went to often at the end of the flower market. It is a bargain for 3.50 Euros. Feeling gluttonous, I made my last trip to the French fry stand for my last sate sauce fix. On the way home, the air was frigid. I told the desk clerk that if it were to rain now, it would be snow. When does spring come to this country? Has the Spring Fairy passed them over for being bad? The radiator is cranked on high in my room.
The plan for tomorrow it to go to breakfast late with my bags in hand since check-out time is 11:00. My flight is not until 4:30, but I will most likely leave after a leisurely breakfast and then find the Diners Club lounge to spend the extra time in.
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