Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 6: Dam Nation

Waking up the morning after not completing a marathon is similar in a lot of ways to waking up the morning after completing a marathon.  The body hurts and the calves are tight.  The difference is whether that discomfort is partnered with pride. Good thing I’m in Holland so I have a thousand distractions!

I’m not sure I ever would have opted to vacation in Rotterdam without the marathon to draw me.  Now that I’m here, anyway, I took in some pretty cool sights this morning.

As its plaque reads, this church is the only remaining building from the medieval period of the city. Which is particularly interesting, as the plaque goes on to read how the church was almost totally destroyed during the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940.  This medieval church was completed in 1962. The bell in the bell in the tower legitimately is from the 17th century.  I think that means it actually was made in the 17th century.  Picky, picky….

Alongside the square where the church sits are a series of trees trained be nearly two-dimensional.  Not sure if there’s some religious meaning to this.  I just think it looks cool!

You know those unusual cube homes in Toronto near….Eastern Av and the DVP, I think?  The mastermind behind those planned to build several more:

It’s a very cool use of space.  Lots of natural light due to the use of skylights at each pointed part of the cube (I understand that “pointed part” is the mathematical term), and a really great flow throughout the whole space.  The key challenge in the Toronto setting is that real estate is so expensive, and the benefits of the cubes are reduced when transformed into a sky-rise setting. These could be pretty cool in Toronto if built in a way that leverage land already being used for something else… (In Rotterdam, they were built on a public walkway over a highway.  It created a whole neighbourhood where there was previously nothing.)

I don't recall having to sign a liability waiver to get in...?

On a circuitous and indirect route back to my hotel, I wandered through Rotterdam’s celebration of it’s position on the trade-routes of the world.

230 countries are represented by their flags in Rotterdam's International Flag Parade.  A tribute to a very longstanding (as in, since the 1600 or so) Netherland tradition in support of world trade.

Now back to Amsterdam!

Hotels in Amsterdam are expensive, and this trip still has a fair bit of mileage to go, so I decided to try out a hostel for tonight.  You hear great things about European hostels, right?  Well….(big breath) here goes. The receptionist at the front desk was a great guy – Conor from somewhere in England.  His name was Conor, and he came from England.  Oh, did I repeat myself?  That’s what talking to Conor was like.  Super friendly guy…and burned out to the point that he literally forgot things partway through the conversation.  He assured us that he had quit smoking pot, but his memory hadn’t recovered yet.  And he had quit smoking pot!  

The room was….tolerable.  The bathroom looked like it hadn’t been cleaned very well…or at all…but I brought shower sandals for a reason.  The beds had fresh sheets, so it would do.  I woke up the next morning without any apparent bites, so score one for the “no bed-bugs” team.

Once my bags were safely stowed in a moderately clean room, I set out to explore the Jordaan neighbourhood and try to find Proef.  According to my trusty “usual and unusual” guide, Proef is set in the old gasworks, and the food is all locally sourced, “sometimes no farther than the kitchen garden, where chickens scratch among the heritage vegetables and picnic tables”.  I did find beautiful parkland and the old gasworks….and a petting zoo with a thatched roof!  Finding this restaurant was a little more difficult.


The park:

The petting zoo!

I finally thought I had found it!  A cool-looking restaurant with fires burning among the picnic tables (it was cold, and even with the fires all the diners were opting to eat inside).  I asked if this was the restaurant set in the old gasworks, and the host happily pointed to the old gasworks right beside the restaurant.  I said: “This must be the place I have read about!  Do you have a kitchen garden with chickens?”  Um…no.  No kitchen garden.  I faltered as I tried to recover: “So this isn’t the place, just another really cool restaurant…”  

Except, once I saw the menu, it didn’t seem so cool.  Sigh…I wandered back to my hostel, through the picturesque park and scenic Jordaan, picking food up along the way.  

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