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    • Day 63

      Cinq Fotos-Paris Day 4

      June 15, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      I see dead people.

      More accurately, today we visited the resting places of a number of famous people in the largest greenspace in the city.

      Before we left the flat, we enjoyed an apricot cake that Stephan made for breakfast. Last night they recommended some options for our last day in Paris. We decided to explore the Cimitèrie du Père-Lachaise.

      When we arrived at the cemetery the multitude of above-ground vaults reminded me of the cemeteries outside of New Orleans with the exception of all the trees and hills here. Famous artists, authors, composers, politicians and others are found here. There are memorials to those lost in the Holocaust. There are tributes to resistance fighters. And there are whimsical and unusual sculptures throughout.

      The chapels and monuments are quite elaborate. I'm reminded of the ways that some societies play tribute to the dead. I have always found a walk in the cemetery to be calming, and I admire the inscriptions and tributes.

      There were some gravesites that I wanted to visit. The first site was the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. While I have not read any of his works in depth, I have appreciated his quick-witted tongue and I'm drawn to his tortured story for being a man who loved other men. Wilde was imprisoned for two years in England for homosexual acts, and when he was released, he moved to France and never returned. The time in prison left him in poor health, and he died at the age of 46. The inscription on his memorial is from one his last poems:

      "And alien tears will fill for him
      Pity's long-broken urn,
      For his mourners will be outcast men,
      And outcasts always mourn"

      We also visited the gravesite of Jim Morrison. Like too many musicians of his era (Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix), he died very young. I was 9 years old when his song "Light My Fire" was released. I remember thinking the song was dumb at the time. I rediscovered Jim Morrison when I was in grad school. I liked his haunting baritone voice and I was intrigued by many of the lyrics and mood changes.

      A celebrity buried here that I knew less about was Colette, who was an actor and writer. I was reminded when we went to Moulin Rouge that she almost caused the venue to be shut down when she gave a long kiss onstage to another woman in 1907. She is known for her books, most notably a novella that was adapted for the movie Gigi.

      We also witnessed Anerican novelist Gertrude Stein's grave who is buried next to her long-time partner Alice B Toklas. I admire them as those who came before us who demonstrated living authentic lives. "A rose is a rose is a rose "

      Rather than continuing with a name-dropping list of famous dead people I have walked by, I want to offer this reflection:

      I think most of us want to be remembered.
      Did we love?
      Were we loved?
      Did we make any contribution that mattered without needing to be famous?
      Will people still talk about us when we're gone?

      I cited a few of the individuals surrounded by a cast of deceases celebrities more to illustrate that everyone has a story. If we pay attention, we can learn their stories while they are living. We can let them know that they matter and not wait to build a moss-gathering monument after they're gone.

      One of the best parts of this trip is taking time to learn the stories of others we have met in our lodging or other chance meetings. It's a great lesson to bring home, and it was a gift that this cemetery walk brought to me today.

      Au revoir and merci, Paris. It was fun. And we're back up to Amsterdam for a few days. We're wishing everyone a good night from our floating home.
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    • Day 65

      VIJF FOTOS-Amsterdam Day 10

      June 17, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

      I woke up this morning with cold symptoms that doubled down a bit from yesterday. We already planned a low-key day. After going out for coffee, we returned to the boat and I slept for several hours.

      Yesterday, I talked briefly about the recently graduated student. He is very enamored with the Oregon Trail. He noticed Pete the Cat, and I explained to him about this storybook character and the photos we send to our granddaughter. Ben is a graphic artist, and he felt inspired to send me an image with Pete at the reins of a Conestoga Wagon as a gift to Olive. 💞

      I woke up feeling significantly better. We enjoyed our immersion into canal life with no agenda. We heard the excited shouts of children in a nearby schoolyard. We watched young folks gather at a dock along the canal. We watched young boys jump off the foot drawbridge, and we waved to those riding by in their boats.

      The experience causes me to recall a myriad of summer adventures near the water with friends and family when I was young.

      I remember sunburns on top of sunburns and my mother slathering me with Noxema.

      I think about staying in cottages in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Cape Cod. I remember picking blueberries in Truro when I was 6. I remember the merry-go-round at Watch Hill. I remember being the only one in the family to go in the ocean at Sand Beach in Bar Harbor, and being covered with blankets when my lips turned blue. I loved bodysurfing and playing with pinball machines at the beach arcade in Misquamicut.

      I remember responding to the dare of friends to join then in jumping off a small cliff into Lake Erie. I think of times with high school friends at the Flaming Gorge in Wyoming.

      What I saw today were people enjoying the promise and gift of summer. I know that being next to some body of water in the summer provides solace.

      Another day of just being present was the perfect prescription for the day.

      Thank you, Amsterdam. Next stop: Ireland.
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    • Day 8

      Our last afternoon!

      April 13, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

      Walk to Jordaan again because it is a nice part of Amsterdam with café’s and restaurants. We had a drink by a canal and Dianne floated the idea of another canal cruise. We thought about it but decided that we would get some food and pack up our stuff for the trip back tomorrow. It was sunny and warm finally.Read more

    • Day 4

      need. unhealthy. food. NOW.

      June 10, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      truly everything has been so enjoyable and although it’s only been a few days, I love it here!!! Oddly enough the hardest part of the adjustment has been meal times. Because of jet lag and adjusting to the super long days here ( sunrise @ 5 am and sunset at 10 pm) , I’ve been getting hungry at the most odd times and mostly really late like 10/11 pm. I love living in a Dutch little neighborhood area, but we are far from the tourist hot spots so there’s no familiar food place, everything is new. Which is great but when you get to the point of just needing food, it’s not fun googling “restaurants near me” and having to scroll through all of the restaurants, just to find one we like, to then see if it’s walking distance and open. One night avrey and I seriously just decided to start walking and hope for the best. Came across a pizza place and were like “great this is perfect”. We ordered a margarita pizza… got a cheese pizza though? And 2 sprites… which btw all of the soda here is typically “no sugar”. The pizza was actually perfect size for us to split, but it was like a pizza inspired thin crisp hahaha. And we washed it down with no sugar sprite… I think I’m going to lose weight here… and not because I’m trying to!Read more

    • Day 5

      Dianne’s Jordaan walk!

      April 10, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      After fish and chips for an afternoon snack, we did a walking tour of Jordaan. It starts at Dam square which has been described as the Dutch “Times Square”. It gets quieter as you progress along the canals into a residential neighbourhood. On the way we pass by Anne Frank’s house, and Pink Point. Pink Point is a small memorial, a Homomonument to all oppressed people of the LGBTQ community. The pink triangle is symbol homosexuals were forced to wear by the Nazis.
      We pass many canal boats and tours as Dianne’s hints get more noticeable! The tour continues thru a more artsy neighbourhoods with art galleries, florists and with many sidewalk pubs and restaurants . It is such a beautiful evening they are well attended. The hints are alluding to a promised boat tour of the canals. Trouble is, the last tour leaves at 18:45 and it’s 19:00 now. Dianne doesn’t want this to be like my promise of a camel ride on our last trip. Not the Banff trip, but the one to the Middle East. Everyone on that trip had ridden a camel before and I myself wasn’t keen to do it again. On that trip it was always “tomorrow for sure”. until we got on the airplane to go home. This time is “Tomorrow for sure” for the canal ride.
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    • Day 95


      June 24, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 73 °F

      Miles: 10.3 Steps: 24204
      Flights stairs: 5

      Well what a cool city Amsterdam is! I didn’t know much about it before coming here - mostly only that prostitution and drugs are legal, and that it gets really cold. I’ve learned so much today!! it’s gorgeous - it’s a city built around water and canals much like Venice, but in my opinion even more attractively. It’s actually 6 meters below sea level. They are masters here at “water management”. And a little known fact - there are almost as many bikes here as there are people! 600,000 bikes. Bikes are EVERYWHERE. It’s amazing to see them used as the main form of transportation in a big city.

      Did you know Van Gogh was Dutch? I didn’t. We went to the Van Gogh museum - and I have to say it was probably the most enjoyable art museum I’ve been to yet. Just the way it was set up and how it lead me thru his life. Very well done.

      We wandered without much purpose for awhile which is actually really fun. We came across the red light district where prostitution is legal and found it was much different than I expected. The way they have it set up, I barely knew where I was most of the time.

      We took a boat tour of the canals which was really nice to see a lot of the city from that perspective and then Jordan and I spontaneously went and got small semi-matching tattoos together to commemorate our travels!

      We ended the night taking a tour of the Anne Frank House. It was so moving to walk thru it all and listen to the audio tour. I honestly didn’t know it was located in Amsterdam till I got here. How WW2, and the Nazi occupation, touched every country in Europe is mind boggling.

      Overall, it was a fantastic day that I hope to remember a very long time. I still haven’t adjusted to their VERY late sunsets - it doesn’t get dark till after 10:30. It’s easy to lose track of time and think it is endlessly 6:30 in the evening.
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    • Day 3

      Art Fun

      April 20, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

      Gee wiz, Where to begin with today’s adventure’s!!?
      With a gentle start to our morning, we had a canal tour in which we saw some secret gems around Amsterdam city. We then walked through the artist Rembrandt’s Rijn house and saw where his masterpiece’s were created. We then stumbled along Gassan Diamond’s factory in which we needed to take a quick tour! Who knew how many types of diamonds there are… not to mention the 4 C’s of each in-particular diamond (Carat, Cut, Clarity, Colour).
      We then visited Straat - an awesome warehouse filled with huge street art works. The work and detail these artists put into their pieces is incredible.
      We ended our afternoon with a total ‘Insta pic’ worthy experience. Wondr! A 15 room; walk through of colourful, fun and interactive props.

      Finally, our night finished with an Amsterdam famous experience.. Red Light District. Not much to say on this, as I’m sure you can all imagine this as it is 🫣
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    • Day 110

      117ème étape ~ Amsterdam (jour 3)

      November 20, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ 🌧 3 °C

      Journée pluvieuse = journée des musées.
      On commence par Madame Tussauds, on y découvre les statues de cire aussi impressionnantes que d’habitude.
      Puis nous visitons le musée du cannabis, on nous offre une tasse de thé (au CBD, sans THC).
      Ensuite c’est la visite du musée de l’érotisme, les commentaires ne sont pas nécessaires. 😂
      Et pour finir nous visitons la maison d’Anne Franck, nous y écoutons son histoire, ses peurs, ses joies, sa vie, sa fin.
      Nous finissons par un repas traditionnel dans un cadre très chaleureux. 🥰
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    • Day 10

      Lost in Amsterdam

      September 9, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      Well not lost as such, but we spent the afternoon wandering the streets taking in more of the sights. The red light district was 'interesting' to say the least, we also mooched around a large flea market and saw the palace and the old church. After another siesta (the walking was a bit much for Emily), we ended our evening at an Indian restaurant in Jordaan.Read more

    • Day 53

      VIJF FOTOS-Amsterdam Day 2

      June 5, 2022 in the Netherlands ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

      We rested well in our tiny flat, and noted that forecast warned of heavy rains later in the day. Jim C recommended that we take advantage of the window before the storm, and we decided to head toward the Royal Palace.

      The palace was initially the city hall about two hundred years ago. Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, took it as his palace, and it remained with royal families after. Today is is used for receiving dignitaries and other formal functions.

      We noticed several rainbow flags in one of the neighborhoods. Although I came out as a gay man over 29 years, symbols of affirmation still matter.

      We visited the Homomonument which at first glance at the name seems whimsical. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

      According to the website"... the Homomonument symbolizes the long road to gay emancipation in the Netherlands and far beyond.

      It consists of three triangles of Rosa Porinogranite that together form one large triangle. The three triangles represent the past, present and future. Here we commemorate everyone who was killed or persecuted (and still is) because of his or her sexual preference and/or identity. Here we celebrate the freedom to be who we are. Here we call for vigilance for the present and the future."

      The triangles are significant because like Jews being forced to wear a yellow Star of David, gay men were forced to wear a pink triangle 🔺️

      We noted the writing on one of the triangles and learned the following translation: "Towards Friendship Such an Indulgent Desire", a line of poetry by the homosexual, Jewish writer Jacob Israel de Haan (1881-1924).

      As we walked past this monument, we found the nearby iAnn Frank House that we will visit later this week. We also noticed small gold inscriptions of the names of those individuals who were taken and died in concentration camps.

      As we walked home, we noticed among the hundreds of bikes parked along the canals, and we're elaborately decorated with flowers. We learned that a local artist initially did this for his wife's bike as she has epilepsy and attendant memory troubles, and he wanted to make the bike distinctive so his wife could find it.

      The artist, Warren Gregory, is initially from the United States. According to a news article, "Seeing the joy that his bikes were bringing to passersby, Warren started decorating more bikes and scattering them throughout the city of Amsterdam. He makes them in his Amsterdam houseboat, and then ventures out into the streets early in the morning to leave his gifts to the world before the city wakes up."

      On the way home we picked up some groceries, local bread and varied flavored Dutch cheeses. Jim went grocery shops and I checked out two of hundreds of "coffee shops" to purchase aptly named cannabis infused "space cakes. I ate about half of a lemon space cake, and let's just say that made for a relaxing afternoon.

      The rains came later in the day. We made a call home to Genevieve and Olive. It's fun to watch Olive jump into a conversation and interject her news. Her sentences and stories are noticeably longer, and we are proud witnesses to her growth.

      We headed to a really spectacular restaurant around the corner, and we managed to avoid getting drenched. Jim enjoyed his risotto dish and I had lamb..Dessert was decadent. Jim had a waffle with topping that was resembled Bananas Foster. I had a slice of Dutch apple pie. It was so good.

      We're off to the Van Gogh museum tomorrow.

      Good night, all 💞

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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Jordaan, יורדאן

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