Travel with Air Canada Toronto-Amsterdam in luxury, courtesy my daughter.

Public transit is fantastic in The Netherlands. Getting there, of course, meant flying. Once there, you can leave your car behind and use the public system. We traveled through the country by foot, by bicycle, by tram, by train, and this day, by ferry boat. Our planned trip of today was to visit north-Amsterdam and its monthly open-air flea market of second-hand merchandise, on offer from more than 700 stalls at the former industrial area, a ferry-ride away from Central Station. The 2-day weekend event looked precarious, as the whole Saturday it rained, not just a drizzle, but cats and dogs. Luckily, the weather report (which the Dutch consult on an hourly basis to prepare themselves for getting somewhere without getting drenched) indicated some dry hours ahead, and we left home around nine-thirty. (Not all pics here are of the actual day,). It is quite unbelievable, but the ferries are still free en take you to several points across the harbour.



By tram


Walking from the tram to the back of the Central Station to take the ferry.


By train (on a different day to travel to the family reunion in the east county)


The coffee server.

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By boat (the pirate radio broadcasting ship VERONICA), docked at the wharf.

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By cargo bike


By car (not us).

The market was all my daughter wanted it to be. Assisted by my sister, an avid vintage shopper herself, we walked and shopped to our hearts’ content for hours. We took a break for a bite and a drink in the wonderfully casual restaurant located in the former shipbuilding shop, where we bumped into some good friends. Nearing the end of the afternoon, we still had a whole section of the market left to do.  That would have to wait for another day/year, as the weather turned, and the market vendors were beginning to pack up—the closing time of 5 pm coming up.


(From http://www.ndsm.nl/en):

“The NDSM Werf (wharf)  is the most famous attraction in Amsterdam-Noord. It used to be a shipyard but it has been refurbished and is now a hip skate park, where visitors can see Amsterdam’s youth hanging out and having a good time. Other parts of this site have been transformed into restaurants, offices, workshops for the many artists who have relocated to this area of town, and, of course, art galleries. There is also space for a multipurpose area that is used for bigger events such as concerts and, several times a month, for some of Amsterdam’s best flea markets.”




Checking the connections.




Restaurant Ijver. The harbour canal is called the IJ. The Dutch word “ijver” means industrious. We like word-play. The Hilton Hotel is visible in the background.


Playground Dutch style.

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Leftover shipbuilding equipment


Hotel in a boat: botel.  Each of the letters contains a room.

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The square building with the square hole in the middle visible in the background is an apartment building along the waterfront.


The new police station for the water police.


The weather is turning.


Canal in my sister’s neighbourhood: de Baarsjes (a type of fish).

On my trips to the home country, I generally avoid the famous hot spots where tourists roam the streets. This year it seemed particularly busy in Amsterdam with hordes of them hanging around the tourist traps in the heart of the city. They have to check off the well-worn sites on their list, such as the musea, where you hardly can see the artworks from over the heads of the crowds, and in the red light district, where they prevent the workers from doing their job unhindered by gawking tourists, who take photos and pass by the windows with excitement on their faces about so much blatant sexual merchandise.

I met a friend at the Tushinskly theatre off the Rembrandtsplein, and we walked quickly through these crowds. To use a shortcut to the tram stop we passed through a small, new alley I hadn’t seen before, connecting the Dam to the Kalverstraat, the busiest shopping street (pedestrians only) and from there to the Neuwezijdsvoorburgwal.


IMG_1691IMG_1688 2.jpegTAKE SOME MOKUM WITH YOU, Mokum the name for Amsterdam the locals use. When you stick your hand in the mouth a water fountain is activated.


On another trip, I visited with my sister a cousin of ours and his wife, who live on the border with Germany in Gramsbergen. We had a nice craft beer with an order of “bitterballen” (crisp, deep-fried balls with a soft filling of meat in ragout) on the patio of this craft brewery, originally located in the traditional farm building.


Now I am retired, I can finally take some time to visit friends and family. Retirement is great!

The first thing I need to do on landing is to eat a salted herring with onions and sweet pickles, the next thing is a bun with sliced liver, then I have to have a paper bag with french fries with Dutch mayo—not all at the same time! For the rest, the Dutch kitchen is not great, and one can eat better food originating from other cultures, except maybe the poffertjes (puffy mini pancakes) and the regular pancakes. I tried to introduce kale as a salad green to my relatives. What? “Boerenkool” (literally: farmer’s cabbage) as a salad? Politely they took some of it on their plate at the pot luck dinner. Kale is used in The Netherlands for mixing in with mashed potatoes as a winter casserole, often sprinkled with bacon, never as a salad.


IMG_1705IMG_1701The official photo of the sibs, from 70 to 84 years old. How often can we still come together like this, is an open question.

On my way home I spent some time with my daughter and her roommate in Toronto. She cooked us a delicious tofu curry meal.


On our way to visit another friend, we crossed a railroad pedestrian bridge, which was allegedly used in the filming of the HULU series of  Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.




About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
This entry was posted in abbott street, flower beds, frequent intervals, racing bikes, and dutch ladies., Babyboomer, Dealing with aging and dating, EU, Green living, High-density living, Immigration, Retirement, sex trade workers, the Netherlands, tourism, travel, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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