Thursday, May 24, 2007

Shopping and Amsterdam

We continued our quest of solving Nicole's computer problem by visiting the Nestle Netherlands Division. We met some friendly colleagues of Nicole's that were more than happy to take a look at her computer. They were confident it could be fixed, but just weren't sure how, so they asked to keep the thing over night.

Saskia, who owns 4 maternity clothing boutiques, needed to do some shopping for her stores. Nicole and I made a run with her to the Wholesale Fashion Center. This was like nothing I had imagined. I envisioned an open air market with bales of clothing and groups of bargain hunters clamoring for the best clothes at the lowest prices. Reality was an elegant and enclosed fashion center containing clean and contemporary style clothing and accessory shops with young and hip sales men and women. Saskia bought accessories like costume jewelry and belts by the hundreds in order to fulfill the high demand at her various boutiques. By the time we left, I was completely exhausted....I didn't last more than 2 hours keeping up with the girls, but I was there to haul all the bags of items - probably 10 bags in all. However, we didn't sneak away from this center without getting a bite to eat.

After all the shopping work my appetite really built up. We walked into the dining area that looked like an over sized and modern Internet cafe. There were colored seats and tables in hues of royal blue, fire red and yellow. The room was lively and inviting. The menu was extensive and I was quite impressed for a shopping area to have such a nice menu. Saskia ordered Grilled Chicken Salad with Pine nuts, Nicole and Grilled Chicken Ciabatta with Avocado and Bacon, and I ordered like I wasn't ever going to eat again. You must understand that the Dutch and Indonesia mixed cultures a long time ago when Holland colonized the largest island chain in the world. Those influences still stand today. I ordered Chicken Satay with Atjar, Cassava and Peanut Sauce. The chicken was so tender and skewered on 4 large bamboo sticks and topped with a spicy and creamy peanut sauce and fried shallots. Along the side was cassava which is a chip with a background shrimp flavor and the crispiness of a rice cake. The atjar served as the balance to the whole plate. The yellow turmeric pickled cabbage and carrots were both sweet and sour with hints of salt which cut the richness of the peanut sauce. Of course the meal came with fries and mayonnaise as usual.

The day was passing us by at a fast rate and our time in Holland was coming to an end real soon, so I felt a need to get out and see some things. We had Saskia drop us off at the Grand Central Station in Amsterdam. Nicole and I got out only to see my other cousin Jan Willem catching a train on his way home from work. He showed us some areas to walk and Nicole and I began our journey. We walked down the main street while I refreshed my memory of all the sites and Nicole took in all sights - backpackers, canals, herring stands, trolleys, sex shops, prostitutes in windows, coffee shops and a lot of Argentinian restaurants. It was great fun and we shared some laughs as we contemplated the fact that there was an organized group tour of about 20 people walking through the Red Light District - that's right a tour group looking at hookers, porn stores, and reefer shops. We had a good laugh and yes, this is definitely a tourist attraction because where else do you see this amount of Liberalism.

Nicole and I finished our day in Amsterdam by people watching in Dam Square, sipping a cappuccino and munching on a Dutch delight, a thin waffle cookie filled with caramel. The sun fell, the air was chilled and Nicole and I started our train trip back home to Amersfoort.

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