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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Amsterdam/more Dusseldorf

After a day to regroup after Wachau, I headed to Amsterdam for a visit with my old friend and band mate, Ed Simpson-Baikie, who has lived in Amsterdam for the past 35 yrs or so. We met in Victoria in 1969 or thereabouts and had a quite successful band locally shortly after which he headed for Europe. We've kept in touch and met up intermittently over the years so I couldn't be in Europe and not connect with him. I took the high speed German ICE train direct to Amsterdam and had instructions to meet Ed at the "meeting point" in the train station. He even included a map of where that was, which I failed to look at or download ahead of time, thinking I'd have time in the the station. In the end it wouldn't have made any difference anyway as it wasn't where the map indicated. I asked at information and they directed me to an area by the taxi stand. I went out there and saw nothing obvious except a big "M". Hmmmm.... M for meeting place. After a long wait there growing increasingly panicky, I realized that M was for metro. I asked the taxi guy where the meeting point was and he directed me to a point indoors that I saw no evidence of. Asked again at information and got the same response as the first time. By now an hour had passed since my arrival time and I figured that Ed would have given up on me so I headed off on foot to find his place. Interestingly enough, the same thing happened when I'd visited him many years before with my sister and brother except that then we did connect with him the station. It turns out that there is a formal meeting point with a great big "MEETING PLACE" sign at the opposite end of the station to where I was being directed but it faced out so that you wouldn't see it coming from the station, only coming to the station. And why the #+#¥&!!! didn't any of the information people know about it. In any case, with the help of google maps on the old iPad, I found my way through the marijuana redolent, bicycle choked streets to his place thinking, this is my kind of city. A lovely reunion with him and his wife, Leora, followed.

Also staying with Ed was Orit Shimoni, a singer, songwriter, lovely young woman on perpetual tour across Canada and Europe, voice of an angel.

Ed and Orit

With just one day in Amsterdam and not great weather, there wasn't a lot of time for sight seeing though we did get get out long enough for me to be suitably mind boggled at the bicycle scene. It's one thing to hear about it and see some pictures but the sheer numbers and variety of bicycles is truly astonishing, most of them for transportation, as I'd heard, not recreation. Lycra and road bikes were rare. Bikes are utilitarian, for transportation.

Well, most of the bicycles are for transportation

Leora and her green roof

Most of the time we chatted and ate and had a great music session, Ed and I jamming and accompanying Orit. He is a killer bass player and she sings so sweet and writes intense, melancholy songs. Once his old Gibson J50 and I got to know each other, I felt we were ready to go on tour. And Leora is a great vegetarian cook, a most welcome change from the wurst and carbs.

My visit went by quickly and all too soon it was time to board the ICE train again for Dusseldorf. Just inside the German border it was announced that, due to "technical difficulties" we'd need to change trains for the remainder of the trip. We stopped a a forsaken outdoor station in Emmerich and all got out and waited on the platform for the connecting train. After a time it pulled up and we attempted to board as all the passengers on that train attempted to disembark and get into our train for their trip to Amsterdam.

Seemed to me like a very unGerman, disorganized sort of exercise but we arrived in Dusseldorf more or less on time and I found my way to Jim and Heike's.

There are many museums in Dusseldorf so next day I set off to browse. The weather was threatening but I set off on Jim's bike which he kindly loaned me. Riding felt so good and the museum wasn't open yet so I decided to follow the path along the Rhine for a ways before going to the museum. It was wonderful cycling along the bike path not worrying about cars.

The first museum was a photo exhibit by an American photographer, Joel Meyerowitz. He does a lot of street photography as well as choreographed and is truly spectacular. Part of the exhibit had a movie about him in which he articulated his vision for his art. His was probably the most revelatory explanation of the art of photography that I have heard and I was deeply moved and inspired. His photos were profoundly moving as well. A most satisfying experience. Coming out of the museum I was dismayed to discover that it was raining so I donned rain pants and set off for another photography exhibit by a German photographer, Thomas Ruff. His work was quite abstract, very technical and not very moving. My plan following that was to go to a Paul Klee exhibit but I was lured back outside to the bike by sunshine and went for a long ride into the centre of town where I followed the inspiration of the wonderful photographs and took a lot of my own, unfortunately without the same results. But the afternoon light was lovely and the architecture was interesting and I had fun with it.

Frank Geary buildings
The parrots of Dusseldorf
There were some great Frank Geary buildings, always a favourite of mine. As the light faded I bought some veggies at the public market, some wine at a wine store where you can sample before you buy (!), and headed home for dinner with Jim and Heike. My time with Jim in Dusseldorf includes many cafe stops for good coffee and today was no exception. We went to different part of town to a nice cafe with excellent coffee and sat outside to savour the brew. On the way back we went through a big park and were surprised by a flock of parrots. Yes, parrots! These were originally domesticated parrots that have gotten loose and are thriving and multiplying.
German postie

Jim had work to do so I cycled around taking in the sights, stopped for my first ever doner kebab and finally found my way back to get ready for the flight to Barcelona.




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