zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Friday, September 30, 2005

European Adventure 2005 Day 21


My last day in The Netherlands dawns sunny, but a bit cold.... the first day weather that has a chill in the air. i was very lucky with the weather during my trip. only had about 3 or 4 days of rain, but today i can feel Autumn.
After breakfast of ham, cheese, fruit juice and a pot of good black coffee, i went outside with a handful of coins to purchase my parking pass for the day from the automated parking pass machine. damn! on the windshield of my rental car, which was parked on the street directly in front of the hotel, was a small piece of paper..... i immediately knew i had been ticketed, but for what reason?! i pulled the ticket out from under the windshield wiper and discovered that i hadn't bought enough time yesterday. shit! i mistakenly thought that paid parking ended at 17:00, but it is actually 19:00 so i was illegally parked for 2 hours. the fine for my expired parking pass was €47.00!!!! eeeekks!! oh well, my silly mistake, so i'll just have to use some of my last day in The Netherlands dealing with the Amsterdam parking-police.
So, i went online to the website address listed on the ticket to find info on payment procedure and to find out where the Amsterdam Oude Zuid parking-police office is located. lol, of course, the entire website is written in Dutch and no map on the website so i was clueless.
i went to the reception desk and told the owners, Gregorius and Olga, of my dilemma and asked if i could take a tram to the parking authority’s office. they asked me rather incredulously if i really wanted to pay the fine immediately? well, yes, i do... don't want to be met at the airport by Amsterdam police and detained for a parking ticket! they both broke into big smiles (i think holding back giggles at my seriousness) and Olga said that The Netherlands is a "democratic society" (something i sense to be an extremely important to them as Russians immigrants) and that there is not need to rush to pay the fine and i did not have to fear the Amsterdam police awaiting me at the airport to arrest me for a parking fine. Gregorius and Olga went on to explain that quarterly the Amsterdam police send out billing statements to parking and traffic violators. They also said that because the Amsterdam police are very good at watching for parking infractions Amsterdammers build into their annual budget funds for covering traffic fines. So, in 3 months or so the owners of the car, the rental car agency, would be billed for my parking fine and sometime within 4-6 months my credit card may, in turn, be charged for the fine. Or, maybe not. Gregorius and Olga told me to just “take it easy and not worry”.
lol, i think i like this “democratic society” system :D


After putting my parking ticket concerns to rest, Olga suggested that I might like to go to the Concertgebouw and hear the free lunchtime concert open to the public on Wednesdays. She told me that the Amsterdam Concertgebouw is world renown for it’s grandeur and excellent acoustics and the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra is said to be one of the very best orchestras in Europe, second only to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. intrigued by what she told me i set off to Concertgebouw (built in 1888), which is located near the Museumplein, a 15-minute walk from the hotel. i arrived at the concert hall just in time to seat myself on the balcony of the beautifully elegant concert hall before the concert began. Wow! is that place ever grand!... beautifully painted in soft white, pastel green accents and gold gilding, crystal chandeliers, rich deep-red plush velvet upholstery on dark-grained wood seats, matching heavy velvet drapes, and a giant pipe organ dominates the wall behind the big orchestral stage.
the concert lasted only ½ hour and was actually a rehearsal for the full concert to be given later that evening. it’s hard to think of what i heard as a rehearsal because the orchestra was incredibly good and the sound nothing less than awesome. i was impressed with the first violinist… he was able to created such captivatingly delicate and sustained notes from his violin that filled in the air with such intensity and feeling. I’m not sure, but I think it was Peter Sánta because Olga told me that i would be hearing a famous young Dutch conductor playing and he sure looked like Peter Sánta. at the end of the performance, the conductor asked the first violinist to take an individual bow (so incredible was his performance), but he declined and took a bow with the entire orchestra. i thought that said something about his modesty and it was endearing.
i’m so happy Olga told me about the free lunchtime concert… again, the best travel tips come from locals if you really want to experience the culture and true ambiance of the country visited ☺

After the concert, i decided to make the short walk (about 10 minutes) to Albert Cuyp Market where i had lunch at one of the nearby cafes. even though still a bit chilly, it was very nice to have a leisurely lunch sitting at an outdoor table in the sun. i had the_best turkey club sandwich served on the_best crusty lightly toasted bread and a beer. dang, the beer sure is consistently good in Holland! ☺

After i finished lunch, i strolled along a canal and made my way to the Museumplein where i caught the tram and returned to the hotel to get a start on doing some creative packing trying to squeeze all of my things and all the gifts i had bought into my 2 small bags and backpack so that i would be ready for the trip back home the next morning. lol, it was a complicated task, but I accomplished the feat successfully.

Having prepared my packing for morning departure, i took one last walk through Vondelpark at dusk. the air had a real nip to it and the walk was relaxing. there were a few joggers and bicyclist about, but the park was quite still… i guess because of the time of day and the chill in the air.
On my way back to the hotel, i took a route through the neighborhood of my hotel and admired the large brick houses with their huge open windows brightly lit by life going on behind closed doors. many of the windows are partially or completely of stained glass. the stained glass windows were so pretty with the interior lights shining through their colorful designs…. it was so peaceful, even with the din of city noise and sirens of Amsterdam City in the near distance. which makes me think of something I noticed - a difference in the sounds of life in Amsterdam as compared to life in Utrecht and Groningen… in Amsterdam the quarter hours are marked by police & emergency vehicle sirens (or at least it seems this way) ; in Utrecht and Groningen the quarter hours are marked by the chiming of clock towers…

i reached Hotel Villa Borgmann feeling a real sense of satisfaction and contentment, with my last day in The Netherlands… [despite my parking fine, lol :p], yet feeling a bit sad and reluctant that my holiday in this wonderfully exciting country was ending.
So, i enjoyed a bottle of Amstel Pilsner and a bag of peanuts from the mini-bar in my room and made a toast to The Netherlands and her good friendly citizens. Proost!!



*NOTE: go to October 2005 archive and scroll down to 1st October entry to read the final post of my Holland Adventure, "Departure Day".

3 comments:

  1. I am glad you made your way home in one piece. Thank you for the great stories the last three weeks.. You have now made a reputation for yourself, which may be hard to keep :)

    So glad you enjoyed everything!

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  2. bedankt, Prof., i'm glad you came along for the adventure... whether you realise it or not, your presence and suggestions here added to my fun times :)

    and, about "the great stories the last three weeks"... i was truly inspired... i had an awesome time and not one bad experience. hehehee, even the getting lost all the time was part of the grand exciting adventure
    :)

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  3. And then getting lost almost at home... a truly fine ending to your trip.. you succeeded in staying in the same storyline right to your front door :).. that sure gave me a laugh :)

    Enjoy your stay back home.. and your cat's.

    I'll definitely keep checking out your blog :)

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