Here’s the tree and sky behind the apartment.
So apparently the neighborhood in which I’m staying is the Williamsburg ca. 1999 of Amsterdam. Consequently, on Thursday I started my day at a place called The Breakfast Club. Afterward, I kind of made a loop up to Centraal Station, and then back around to the apartment.
Important life goals: a boat that you go to for grilling.
While not as salient to my life as a boat with a grill on it, I found this pretty wonderful.
Brutalism is best.
Meter box (I think.)
Houses with loading hoooks.
I’m still sleeping pretty poorly, and I woke up feeling pretty groggy on Friday. I decided it would be comforting to have some staples, which did end up feeling pretty reassuring. Now I can just sort of lounge around all day if I’m so inclined and won’t have to go out for a kebab at 11 or something horrible like that.
On Friday evening I went here, which is apparently the ground zero of the area’s gentrification process. Being Friday evening, it was completely packed. For a while the only available table was on the top of a garbage can. Afterwards, we went to the trendy bar associated with this restaurant, which was pretty good, although substantially understaffed. Ladies in Amsterdam seem more into animal prints than ladies in other cities.
Currently my most pressing problem is that I forgot to pack any nail clippers. Signing off to wipe the blood from writing this post off my keyboard.
I set out on Bloomsday.
Despite feeling pleased with myself in the last entry, I didn’t do such a great job of leaving things in good order. Certainly acceptable, I think, but not exactly tidy. I guess I can still get away with calling it progress. Also, packing was pretty smooth and despite waiting a disconcertingly long time for The Max , I made the airport in good time. I ate at the Country Cat there, which was genuinely nice.
I got the very, very, very last seat on the plane. I was trying to figure out how to go about feeling good about staying another day, and dreading going though the checking and security-theater process for more waiting. Luckily, someone on the standby list didn’t show, and my name was called. It felt good. Already had a little adventure by the time we were taxiing.
I was sort of hoping there would be a power outlet so I could play TIS-100, which I’ve been enjoying a good deal. Sadly, something about the Unity payer burns super-hot, even though the graphics are basically non-existent. It runs through the battery in less than two hours. This meant I had to just zone out and watch things. In particular, I watched Jupiter Ascending, which was indeed terrible, although fine for whiling away a plane ride.
Schipol was, by some distance, the best immigration experience I have ever had. I didn’t wait in line for even a single second at passport control. Things sort of fell apart on transit, though, as the ATM in the airport only dispensed 50s, and the station at which I changed for the tram was remote enough that I had to walk around for a bit to find a shop that would let me pay for just a coffee with one of them. If Europeans are so reticent about breaking bills, why the fuck do they print them at all?
The apartment is fantastic. It has a hippie feel, which is not, as you know, my aesthetic, but the quality of it is very alluring, and it’s very comfortable and airy. Going to be very happy to do some languishing here, and I imagine it’ll be a nice space in which to get through my Euro-workdays.
Phew, running behind here.
So after the whole key thing was resolved I did the obvious thing, and took in some modern art at the Centre Pompidou. You know a place is classy when its bathroom graffiti requires a passing familiarity with art history to enjoy.
This painting, from 1928, predicts 99% of all video game level design. Time to get a new paradigm, fellas.
If you know me, you may be aware that my dream has hitherto to been to live in a concrete cube atop a single column. This is no longer the case. I now want to live in a house based on this architectural maquette. I’m not sure about what would be under it. Maybe a deck supported by a single column.
On Saturday I went to the Marche aux Puces in Saint Ouen. Despite not really being a shopping person, I really like being up there. I think I find it funky like a French village while simultaneously being very much in Paris. Unfortunately, I had a really shocking disappointment when I went to cafe that I had really enjoyed when I’d been there with C and was served a quiche that had clearly come out of the fucking microwave. Not on, French people, not on.
In the afternoon I finally found Buttes Chaumont, which, as mentioned previously, shouldn’t have required two days of effort. Once there, I was rewarded with a pretty great over-the-top folly, and a very nice greenspace generally.
As always, however, don’t think too much about that water. Good enough for ducks, and that’s about it.
On Thursday afternoon I tried to visit the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. In my arrogance I thought, “I don’t really have to do much planning. After all, I’m looking for a massive park, which includes the highest elevation in Paris.” They say pride comes before a fall, but in my case it was a rather substantial but fruitless climb.
At any rate, it was okay. Because it’s what we’d call “transitional” in the US, there are lots of sort of not-too-authentique, not-too-trop-moderne houses along my route, which I was able to revel in in lieu of goofy follies.
Like all foot journeys around here, mine ended along the canal. Almost everyone you can see in this picture is sketching, which is pretty great.
My evening was marred by losing the key to my flat, which was pretty embarassing, and also a bit frightening, as there is no way to get out of the apartment without one. My host was able to come by early Friday afternoon to let me out, at which point I discovered that the key had been trapped in the lining of my hat, which is both infuriating and hilarious.
This abandoned typewriter in Brontes speaks to man’s inhumanity to man.
In retrospect, I’m sort of sad that I didn’t take more pictures of it.
Man’s inhumanity to man aside, the coolest place we visited was probably Simiane la Rotonde, so called for its incredibly scenic old fortification.
Here are some (I’m fairly certain) non-funerary cairns in a field behind our villa.
Here are my feet on their way out of the countryside.
These Parisian benches, each possessing something the other lacks, speak to man’s inhumanity to man.
So I have returned to civilization from the beautiful wildernesses of Provence. Everything was profoundly scenic. As one might expect, we made little day trips to medieval hill towns. There are pictures, but I didn’t bring a real computer, so I think I’m going to have to get some sort of mobile editing software, because the future is dumb.
At any rate, now I’m in Paris. I’m still more or less at the vague vector phase of my plans. We’ll see where that leads.
One thing being here has brought to my attention is that except for at brunch, Portland has spoiled me in terms of being able to not bother with places that are crowded. If you don’t want to be packed in, Portland generally allows you to go somewhere else. A lot of places aren’t so sympathetic.
I guess it’s also the case that a heavily arranged trip as this has been so far encourages that behavior. Now that I’m on my own in a town with which I am reasonably familiar, I expect that I’ll lighten up about it. The luxurious aspect aside, I shouldn’t let Portland turn me into a country bumpkin (except at brunch, which is basically the Tokyo subway.)
So I went on vacation around New Year’s, but I got swine flu (literally, I think) so I didn’t enjoy it very much. It’s a shame, because we spent a week out in Newport, which under better circumstances would have been very nice.
It’s a bit odd starting the new year like this. All that sort of drive that you’re supposed to have to carry you into. . . whatever it is you’re supposed to be carried to for the new year.Instead I’m sort of crawling towards some kind of semblance of normalcy, which isn’t really the same.
Regardless, I’m making some effort to figure out what this one’s going to be about. We’ll see how it turns out.