Canals and Disposable Bar-B-Qs

Posted by in Dispatches

Utrecht CanalA Dispatch post from my partner in crime, Svetla:

Alas, I finally discovered Holland. Criss-crossed by algae-green canals, covered from end to end by endless, grassy, cow-friendly fields and gently sunken into the calm of the cloudy sky, Holland feels like a quiet yet remarkably vibrant hideaway. The omnipresence of water itself is appeasing and rejuvenating while the beautifully adorned little houses embody the orderly, adept and truly serene Dutch way of life. The only problem is the Dutch didn’t know we were coming, and our bacchanalia in Amsterdam along with our first and regrettably second-to-last night out with old and new friends proved it so.

At the Van Gogh Museum: Gothic PortraitQuenched my thirst for unknown herbs in the heart of the coffee-shop paradise of Amsterdam, we decided to pay a visit to the Van Gogh museum (a picture of us in the museum is on the right). A modern, glass and metal edifice of the museum enfolds the testimony of a somewhat tragic and unfinished yet prolific life of an anguished and poetic figure. Following a narration of canvasses, we travelled from the earliest, gloomy periods of Van Gogh’s realization of the injustice of the human world, through the impressionistic luminous and colourful views of France in pure orange and blue, to the stark transformations of stormy yet tranquil nature seen from behind the bars of his alyssum. Gushing talent, love of creative exchange and collaboration, disillusionment, flicker of a life.

A glass of wine in the museum’s lobby made it easier for us to leave despite our infatuation with the proximity of such complex, vocal art. Blue tram took us back to the noisy, touristy streets of the downtown area where in a hurry to escape we grabbed a delicious falafel and hopped on the train back to Utrecht. Ezra received a final response from the conference’s organizer informing him of the dreadful situation with flights and that unfortunately she had not been able to find him an alternative ticket to Brazil. Utrecht BrekkiThe news was hardly encouraging so the best thing to do was run out and join our friends for a long night of Dutch hospitality, whiskey and conversations of gay rights, homosexuals and their apparent inexistence in the Netherlands.

Today we had a lovely Cuban style breaky on the sidewalk right in front of Bram and Ilka’s house (pictured above and to the left) and enjoyed the untypical warmth of the sun as it had been raining on and off ever since we arrived. The plan was a swim and a barbecue at a lake nearby, however, we spent quite a few hours running around banks and exchange bureaus to try to comprehend why Dutch banking is in full amok on Saturdays. Utrecht PiknikA newspaper with pictures of Lebanon “before” and “after” made us think of how out of the loop we actually are in the middle of carefree Holland and the resolution was to make up tonight. (The result you can see in ezra’s news entry about Hummer aficionados and IDF spillage.) We double-rode a gearless, almost brakeless version of a cute bicycle to a drinkers-friendly park (pictured to the right) along one of the many canals of Utrecht. A disposable barbecue (yes, you read it right) and fresh mojitos all prepared by our lovely hosts made the night melt away in talk, music and anticipation of tomorrow’s boat-parade and my favourite’s Zuco 103 concert.