Where was I then? Oh right, Saturday night back at the hotel. We had to pack because our friends were leaving the next day and we were moving to this house. If you remember, Angelos and I were supposed to stay the last 3 days in the place of the vise – president of the organisation I organised the congress for last October.
But we were so tired; we decided to do it in the morning. After all we were supposed to be at his place at 11, so that our friends could also leave their luggage there, and hang around with us, since their flight was at 19.45 in the evening.
Hotel Arena was exactly as described to us. “Something you will not experience before”. A huge building, orphanage in the 17th century I think, hospital afterwards, and a hotel now. Weird energy indeed. But really nice. Have a look at www.hotelarena.nl
. If you go to “TODRINK” you will see where we had breakfast and if you go to “TOSTAY” and see the large room pics you will see where we stayed. It had a small sitting area, and then you went up some stairs, and had a very big bed in a sort of attic thingy. This was nice because we did not have to see the mess of all the bags and shoe boxes before sleeping, but was delightful to see them all scattered around when we woke up. To us at least!
So we woke up in the morning, I had my regular breakfast, the rest ate everything again, and then we went to pack. I forgot to tell you that the weather forecast I took from 5 different sites were all shite! It gave around -2 to 5 with rain/snow. It was between 6 - 9 and sunny ALL day long!!! Anyway, we called a cab, and Angelos and me decided to let the other two do some walking and stuff, since they were already too sad to go, and take their luggage to the house.
When we arrived in the house, we were both breath taken! It was absolutely gorgeous. In one of the fanciest canals, in the beginning of the red light district, right across Amsterdam’s very first coffee shop, we were about to stay in a house that we had admired so much last year, and actually two nights before!!!!! It was really surreal!!!
We met J. and he showed us the entire house. It had 6 floors, a huge basement, and an incredible attic. His living premises were in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor in the back, and ours were in the ground, 1st, and 2nd floor in the front. I will have to post some pictures of this house, because it was amazing!
The place we slept is the place he usually works with his groups (he is a body psychotherapist too) and it was around 120 square meters! Think of all this space, with very high ceilings (must have been taller than 5 meters), with two sides of the room occupied by huge windows, uninterrupted by walls or corridors, filled with huge vases with all kinds of wonderful flowers, everything in cream, with a huge king sized mattress on the floor, and cream and black zebra linens. Oh we had such fun there ;)
So we saw our guy for a bit, had some gossip about the congress, some wine, and then left to meet our friends. Who wanted to smoke all the time, since they were leaving. And also wanted to do some last time shopping too. And who were we to refuse more shopping? So we wandered around, shopped some, smoked some, had coffees, and then we all got a bit hungry so we ate shoarma’s. This was the same small Arabic pita bread but this time instead of falafel it was filled with some spicy grilled meat, lettuce and yogurt sauce. Then we walked more, around the canals, took pictures, went to the Dam square, took more picures, visited Magna Plaza, and De Biejenkorf (prolly spelled differently) 2 of the most fancy shopping malls, shopped some more (I got my olive green raincoat there, with70% discount, from 140 euros I got it for 42!)
Then we went back home so that they packed their last shopping bags, and walked them to the Central Station to take the train to the airport. This was sad, because my gf’s boyfriend who was insisting to go back on Sunday so he wouldn’t have to take Monday off work (such a workaholic he is) was now devastated by his stupidity and wanted to not go! And for me and Angelos, seeing them leave, brought our own departure closer. But then, we concluded that it will be a new Amsterdam holiday for us, since we had a new place to stay and just each other to please!
We met J. and the nice lady at 7, and they took us out to dinner in a very fancy restaurant, in the 11th floor of a building in the port of Amsterdam. It was really cool and very modern and the food was nice too. I had antipasti for starters (a slice of salami, half an artichoke, some salad with celery root, and a slice of cheese) and for my main course I had a risotto cake with asparagus and caramelised onions and a saffron sauce. A glass of wine too. And the rest had hazelnut brownie with cream, but I restrained.
Then we went home, had a last glass of wine with J., and then we were left alone to actually enjoy this magnificent house and “bedroom”. Which we did J
On Monday morning we woke up at 6.30. We had seen a travel office near by with excursions leaving at 8.45 from their place, and we decided to take a small tour. We took our shower together (because it was such a huge shower), I had coffee, Angelos had some cheese and grapes for breakfast, and we left to go to that place. But when we arrived it was closed, and we realised that it had no tours on Mondays. Angelos dug in his bag and found all kinds of leaflets we been gathering from bars and the hotel, and we found a place not too far away, where they had Monday excursions. So we went there, booked our place, and then went to have some more cappuccino till the time to go approached. The excursion was silly in the sense that it was too planned and too touristic, but we had so much fun! We went and saw a wooden shoe manufacturer, who showed us how the wooden shoes are made, then we went to a cheese farm, where we saw how the cheese is made the old traditional way, then we went to Volendam, a gorgeous fish village (where I had fish and chips for the first time in my life), and to Marken, a village famous for its wonderful wooden houses. We were back at 2.30, for our last minute shopping. Mainly gifts for people we had seen all these days and were still a tad undecided about what to choose. I was really sad on Monday. I did not want to go. I wanted to stay in this house and wake up to the church bell, and see the canal, and have my Angelos next to me all day, and not to have to go back to work and missing him. Yes, I know, very childish but still…
So we shopped till 6 that the shops closed, then went home, called J. who came down for a last chat and a last glass of wine, and then we went to pack. This took us too long. Because we were having plenty of empty bags with us to fit in all the stuff we would buy, but we had a very bad experience from last year, because we had to pay a lot for overweight, so we were trying to find the best combination so that we put all the heavy stuff in our hand luggage. It was around 9.30, when J. opened the kitchen door and said that we should rush if we wanted dinner, because kitchens closed by 10 on Mondays. So we put on our jackets, because we were starving indeed, and went outside to get some dinner. Accidentally we paced by a Chinese that was recommended to us by Sofia. And I had a brilliant idea. We would take take-away with us, go home, leave it on the stove, take a shower, and then eat in candle light. Which we did. And as we were eating, at the same point, we looked at each other and said: “Do you realise what is happening now?”
In Amsterdam, all the houses have these huge windows, and as you walk in the streets, you can look inside the houses, and see people watching telly, eating, sleeping, playing cards. They have no curtains, and as a tourist, walking down the streets and seeing them is always impressive and actually it is like you are walking in a cinema, where all kinds of different movies are playing.
As we were eating people were walking down the street and they were watching US! It felt so surreal to have someone actually think we were locals. That called for a last “smoke” which we split between us. We both got too mellow, a bit sad-ish too, so we cleaned the kitchen, went upstairs to the first flour, where J. had a loveseat, a small table with candles, and a “balcony” from where all different kinds of greenery were dropping down to the kitchen, and from where you could see outside the big kitchen window, to the canal, the small bridge, the houses across the canal. We stayed there for some time, silently, in each other’s arms, going back to each day, always saying “remember when…”, “oh…and remember when…” and of course “trianta dio – trianta – dio” which saved us because it made us laugh, so then we remembered all the funny stories, the Italians in Caucho’s, the Medea act in the canal boat, me singing folk songs and asking for money, our friends’ faces when I asked the cop for a light , the hideous tour operator, the last night in the hotel, the chocolates, the boots, the clothes.
I have to tell you that there was a big issue with boots. And clothes too.
Boots, because I could not fit in all of them. Only to the ones that were roomier up the calf. And I bought a pair of gorgeous red suede boots for my mom, and Sofia called me at some point and asked me to get her a pair of boots she had regret not buying last week, and I got them for her. I had actually seen them and really liked them, but did not try them on because I was certain they would not fit. And as we were packing I was watching my mom’s and Sofia’s boots and I was saying to Angelos, look at them they are so gorgeous, why can’t I fit in them, and he said that you cannot know because you never tried them on. So I got up to try them on, to show him how right I was, and tada! They both slipped easily as if they were socks! And I got upset, because I wanted them all! And my sweeter than sweet man told me, “No worries baby, we can go tomorrow morning and buy them with my credit card (Angelos NEVER uses his credit card, he hates debt and carries it with him only for emergencies when we are travelling). Then we can take a taxi instead of the train to the airport, we leave at 12.40, there is plenty of time”.
And clothes were an issue too. Because last year, H&M and so many more shops had a plus section. Whereas this year only one our of the 10 I think H&M ‘s had plus sections and the clothes left were 18W and bigger and they were big for me, and in all the normal shops sizes went up to 16, not 18, and most of the 16’s were taken too. And I had seen Sofia’s suits and blouses and stuff, all 16’s, and I was grumpy because I did not get to find the right trouser to go with the pin stripped jacket or similar rubbish like that. So I was complaining that I could not find many things to buy (because I can be a spoiled rat like that sometimes I am afraid)
But at this moment, at this place, in his arms, with all this beauty surrounding me, I felt really blessed. So I told Angelos that the most important thing is not that I bought all these clothes and boots. The most important thing is that I am in Amsterdam, a year after, 21 kilos less, buying regular 16’s, instead of 18W and 20W. That all I love are healthy. That I got new varieties of amaryllis to plant and that when they bloom in the summer I will have a bit of Amsterdam in our balcony. And last but not least, that I am the luckiest woman on earth to know that his embrace is my real home.
We went upstairs, put on the alarm clock, prayed for no overweight charges tomorrow, and slept in each others arms.
The next day, we woke up, had breakfast, and left the house to walk to the Central Station. I did not need the extra boots. Although he was insisting. At that point I felt all I needed was an extra day in this house. But now that I am less emotional, and not at all stoned, I can tell you I did not really needed an extra day. Our trip was excellent and utterly fulfilling. We did everything we had planned and more. We did mega shopping. We ate well and enjoyed each and every bite. We smoked good organic stuff. We smelled new smells. We tasted new tastes. We saw new images. We touched new touches. We heard new rhythms in a foreign language. All senses were pleased. Our hearts were content. Our souls satisfied. Our bodies were tired but happy. And we are, once more, aware that life is a gift. And we were really satisfied with ourselves that we did the crazy thing. To go to Amsterdam and spend all the money we had saved over a year to pay off one last credit card. Because this is what this money were for. But we decided to let the debt rest for one more year. And to give ourselves a well deserved break. And eat whatever is left in our pantry and freezer for the rest of February, because, as you can understand, we came back broke. But we do not mind at all!!!
Our luggage weighted 44.5 kilos. 4.5 kilos more than allowed. No big deal, they did not charge us. But if they had weighed our hand luggage, we would have been in mega trouble. We weighed them when we got home. I was carrying 12 kilos and Angelos was carrying 19!!!!
P.S. last year, the small table in the plane seat went all the way down and touched my thighs. And before I buckled my safety belt, I had to adjust it a bit wider. This year there were at least 5 cm between my thighs and the table. And I did not adjust the seat belt at all!!
P.P.S. As you saw, I did not binge. I ate reasonably. So why could I do it there, where I wanted to eat so many more things and restrained, and yet, it has been so damn difficult to get back to good eating since I am back? Yesterday I ate so well all day, and then at around midnight, I had about 10 dates covered in grated cocconut!