Monday, June 28, 2010

Amsterdam Travel Guide: The Jordaan, Yo!

Hi Bloggy Friends,

We awoke this morning to torrential downpours and the weather report said it was going to last all day. It wasn't the most ideal of situations, but we couldn't sit around the apartment twiddling our American thumbs. So we threw on our rain jackets, grabbed a couple of complimentary umbrellas and hit the puddly street.

Our plan was to spend the afternoon indoors touring the Van Gogh museum. When we arrived, however, we realized every other tourist in Amsterdam had the same idea. The line was wrapped around the building like four times. It took us a split second to decide we'd be moving on. I'm not huge on impressionism anyway. Sorry, Vincent.

Ironically, our decision to ditch the museum coincided with a break in the clouds. Suddenly the sky opened up and the rain went away.....

With dryness and sunshine abound, we opened our guide book and headed for the Jordaan, which is perhaps the hippest, most artsy district in the city. Some of you readers may recognize the Jordaan from the Diary of Anne Frank. The home Ms. Frank and her family sought refuge in during World War II is located here. We saw it from a distance, along with the huge line streaming out from the front door. Needless to say, we didn't visit. Instead, we weaved our way through the streets checking out swanky clothing boutiques, a couple of galleries and a few well-placed monuments, including the Homomonument.

Strolling along the side streets and beautiful canals, we peered into the open-windowed homes of typical dutch families, who appear to be blissfully ensconced  in a life of leisure, modern practicality and really, really good taste. I was inspired by their slick, minimal approach to decorating. I passed one window that particularly touched me. It was splashed with one of my favorite quotes from Jack Kerouac's On the Road:
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes, "ahh..."
When the sun went down we had rijsttafel at a restaurant called Padi. Rijstaffel was recommended to us by everyone and their mother. It's a traditional Indonesian dish that resembles something you'd get at an Indian or Eritrean restaurant. We loved it. Thank you everyone and your mother!

Later we walked to the Red Light District. Part of me didn't believe I'd really see women wooing the crowd from behind red lit windows, but that's exactly what was going on. They'd be in their tiny spaces pretending to be fixing their hair, dancing to music or just pressed to the glass making cat calls and jiggling door handles to get people's attention. It was unnerving to catch eye contact with them. I didn't know what to do except smile and mouth, "hey girl." Of course, none of them figured I'd be shelling out money for a rendezvous, but I think some may have winked at Alan.

I was a little surprised to see that there were no men. Daniel, our landlord, explained to me that some entrepreneurs tried it a few years back but it didn't pan out successfully. I did, however, see a couple of trannies and drag queens.

And on that note, I bid you farewell for the evening. Thanks for stopping by to share one of my favorite days in Amsterdam so far. I'll chat with you soon.

Love, Josh


Bill Fogle said...

GAWD I'm dumb. Had no freaking idea what rijsttafel was. How fabulous! I Wikipedia-ed it. Yummers! I'll eat anything that's been deep fried.

Was touched by your reaction to the women in the district.

Jonathan Mack said...

Nice post!
By the way, if you have any intentions of visiting Red Light District, you should check out The Amsterdam Red Light Guide