Wednesday, September 30, 1987

1987 Low Countries: Amsterdam I (9/29-30/1987)

Tuesday, September 29, 1987
Managed to leave work a little early and found Kent already at home. He had already prepared our salad “appetizer” that we ate. When Pam B came home at 17:00, we asked if she could take us to the 17:30 bus rather than the 18:30, which she did. Kent bought the $17 cash roundtrip tickets on Bonanza to Logan Airport in Boston.
Bonanza bus ticket
Fifteen minutes after we stashed our bags under the bus, the driver was ready to leave, but a last minute passenger ran up. He didn’t have a ticket and was sent inside to purchase one. The driver circled the building and picked up the passenger on the other side, where we were able to zip right on I-95. We had a rather imperial view from our higher level perch on the bus, and could check out accidents in a glance, and survey the traffic situation a good mile ahead! There were beginning fall colors and a red sunset. We slowed up in Pawtucket (no passengers), and stopped in Mansfield, MA where the driver gave a reading lesson to someone in a “no parking” zone. We arrived at Logan in about an hour, and after several terminal stops, got off at American Airlines, thanks to Kent having called Sabena to get more exact information. No line to check in, and the manager, Mr Charlie Ash, okayed our carry-on luggage and even suggested that Kent tuck his briefcase in the garment bag to avoid a hassle at the gate. Kent found out where to get money exchanged, and we caught the free shuttle bus for route 11 that took us to Terminal E. We got Belgian and Dutch money, and returned by shuttle to Terminal B. We went through x-ray to Gate 22, where a tiny jet was leaving for Providence! We did a makeshift cotter pin repair on the handle of the garment bag, because the button broke from our first repair job.
Our luggage
Cotter pin repair
A bunch or rather a company, of Marines watched Jeopardy on the courtesy TV. The waiting room emptied out, and Kent learned our flight had only 80 passengers. A medical rescue truck met the plane arriving from Detroit at 20:45.
Boston to Brussels boarding pass
We started boarding at 21:45, and were already leaving at 21:55, and in the air by 22:05, with a scheduled departure of 22:00! Kent pointed out a premature smoker as we boarded. I lifted up my jacket from my lap to discover a button that had just fallen off! Kent paid $3 for a headset to listen to Elvis in German, and Belgian music including Jacques Brel. For a beverage, Kent got a Belgian beer, a Maes Pils, with a strong flavor, but good. My ginger ale was just fair! Kent poured his beer into a cup, and it began leaking out a hole in the center of the bottom. Kent had to plug the dyke until he got a new cup. A woman came along to check several overhead compartments, and she had fresh gauze on her arm; the recipient of the rescue truck? There was another beverage run, and Kent got another beer and a pin stuck into his headrest. Our dinner trays contained beef tips with pasta shells, peas and pearl onions, cheese and crackers, a tiny roll (more were offered), salad with Italian dressing, and a cheese cupcake, as well as mineral water. Later coffee and tea, and another beverage run. The pin was a reminder for them to collect $2 for the beer. Dinner was done about 23:30.

Wednesday, September 30, 1987
Kent watched the movie “Malone” in bits between dozing. Breakfast was at 3:00 with a Danish and a roll with butter and preserves, along with orange juice, coffee, or tea. I sewed on my jacket button. We took Sudafed antihistamines in an attempt to clear the middle ear for descent and landing, and did fine as our DC-10 arrived in Brussels 5 minutes early at 4:20, or 9:20 local time. Went directly through customs and didn’t see the Ls waiting at the exit. So we bought second class train tickets into the city for 70 BEF/$1.85, catching the 9:46 train, arriving at Brussel Centraal at 10:05.
Brussels airport to train station ticket
It took two tries to get up the stairs to the ticket windows, then two tries to get to the international window to buy one-way tickets to Amsterdam at 836 Belgian Francs/BEF/$22 each.
Brussels to Amsterdam train ticket
We bought a Coca-Cola Light from a vending machine to quench our thirst, then went to track 5 to await the 11:14 train, which of course left on time.
It was supposed to be 45 degrees when we arrived in Brussels, but it was comfortable with a jacket or sweater. It was sunny and we saw a man in his backyard without a shirt! We slipped into the Netherlands, no welcoming sign, no customs. There were fields of cows and corn, poplar-lined dykes (low country!), sugar beet harvesting, school kids on bikes and mopeds. “Looks like Ohio!” commented Kent as we passed through flat countryside. A crop of gladiolas, half dark purple. A stork, herons, lace curtains in windows, and working windmills near Leiden. A snack cart went through the train several times. Kent noted young people doing Monty Python routines; a good sense of humor here. We arrived in Amsterdam on time at 14:08. Decided to first find a hotel, and went a little out of the way before finding 135-7 Herengracht where the Hotel Groot was located. Rang a bell and answered a call from upstairs. The proprietor gave us a double room for the night for 90 Netherland Guilders/NLG/$45, and tried to sell us two nights for 75 each.
Hotel Groot receipt
Filled out forms and took the key after leaving a 10 NLG/$5 deposit. We went to Room 22 on the 3rd floor, which is the 4th floor in the US. Up narrow winding stairs with clean linoleum and tile. The room was small with a double bed and sink, lace curtains across the front windows looking down onto the canal and street. There were also drapes to draw for the night. The toilet was down the hall, and the showers were down one floor. Church bells were ringing. We let ourselves out of the hotel to find a place to eat. Turned up a side street (Bergstraat) next to the hotel towards the Dam Square, and saw damsels in their front windows with red lights. So here, too! 
In the square, some black fellows were drumming and tinning tribal music as others danced in their own fashion. Headed down Kalverstraat, full of shops and boutiques, and fast-food type places (including McDonald’s). Detoured to the Begijnhof, known as an Almshouse that started in 1346, with its old ladies and cats as inhabitants. Well-kept 14-18th century homes with shiny clean windows. Went in the well-decorated Catholic chapel (1671), once kept a secret. One complete wall fresco was being restored.
Catholic Chapel entrance
The original Catholic church (1400) was confiscated in 1578 and is now the English Reformed Church. It was given to the Pilgrim Fathers when they were here in 1607. Now the organist was at work with someone.
Reflection of the English Reformed Church

Artists at the English Reformed Church
Begijnhof courtyard (KSS)
Cat on the steps
Peephole where young women could modestly look out
Het Houten Huis/The Wooden House (1420),
the oldest house in Amsterdam
Back out to Kalverstraat, where we decided to eat at Paris Croissant, getting a slice of vegetable pizza warmed in an ancient microwave, and chocolate croissants. We browsed a toy store, then the Singel Flower Market on canal barges, although you would not have realized that from the storefronts.
Bloemenmarkt/Flower Market
Found ourselves at the Mint, covered with green lightbulbs. It was a 1490 monument and part of the old city walls. The nation’s coin press was hidden in the octagonal base during French occupation in 1672, thus the name Mint. We wandered up Kloveniersburgwal and found #26, which was supposedly the narrowest house in Amsterdam, and known as Mr Trip’s coachman’s house, who once remarked, "I'd be happy with a house only as wide as my bosses' front door!" However, this house was built in 1696, well past the dates of death for the Trip brothers. It is 2.44 m/8’ wide.
26 Kloveniersburgwal,
one of the narrowest houses
Arrived at the round building of DeWaag, built in 1488 as a gate to the old city. Later it was converted into guild offices on the top floors, used 1619-1939. The anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp as painted by Rembrandt took place here, and we found a doorway that proclaimed in Latin: the Anatomy Theater.
The Anatomy Theater door at DeWaag
Since 1926 it has housed the Jewish Historical Museum.
Canal houses and hoisting hooks
We ended up near the train station, designed by P J H Cuypers in 1889 in Dutch Renaissance style. Next was Schreierstore /the crying tower, built in 1487, where it is said wives bid farewell to their sailor husbands.
Schreierstoren/Crying Tower
A plaque is dedicated to New Amsterdam (Manhattan, NYC) and a tablet for Hendrick Hudson, as he left from here to eventually “discover” NYC! The building seemed to house a nautical equipment museum.
St Nicholas Church was closed on weekdays, but this is where Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia, now rests, as well as composer Jan Sweelinck. The church was built in 1306, and on the outside it was dark and imposing. It bordered on the Red Light District and we plunged in, seeing the goods on display, as well as seeing drugs being used, from cocaine to marijuana. Kent noticed several bars that had a marijuana leaf symbol in their windows, signifying they had it for sale. Saw lots of black guys running out of an alley, which seemed to mean trouble. We walked around the Oude Kerk/Old Church, built in the 14th century. It was surrounded by red lights, peep show cinemas, tattoo parlors, placing it definitely in the sailors’ district. Such a contrast!
We found our way back to the Dam Square, once a fish market. Noted the National Monument, but couldn’t figure if it was the allegorical statue representing Amsterdam, since there were no seven arches to represent the seven provinces. (N.B. The allegorical figure represents victory and peace, and the seven arches are actually on the façade of the Royal Palace.)
National Monument
It is a monument to the Dutch victims of World War I, and the plaques on the curved wall were for the twelve urns representing the 11 provinces plus Indonesia. We returned to the hotel, and had already seen many of the 1,001, or 1200, bridges, 50 canals, and innumerable furniture hoisting hooks on the buildings. Kent wanted a drink, so we stopped in the corner café, Ylonda. Kent ordered a coffee to go, and the proprietress checked her surprise and gave us our drinks in plastic cups (I had apple juice), plus she gave us a package of crackers.
Hotel Groot room
Lace curtain
We showered and regrouped, then headed to the train station to get some business done. We had our Eurail Passes validated, got information on trains to Berlin (deciding against the high fee of sleeping accommodations on Russian coaches for over $60 each!), made reservations for 2nd class seats, and purchased train tickets through East Germany, since Eurail Pass is not valid there.

Eurail Pass
We changed more money. Kent was tired of the long lines, and it seems everyone smokes! Back out in the crisp autumn air, we made a beeline for Binnen Bantammerstraat with all the Indo-Chinese restaurants. The cheapest seemed to be Azië, and we were the only clients for the evening! Kent ordered the traditional Rijstaffel with 14 dishes for one person, and I had the Bami (/noodle dish like the rice dish of Nasi) Rame special. Kent had a foot-long 4’ wide “pork rind” (rice ship?), and a bowl of rice. The hot plate contained servings of curried beef and goulash beef in “chili sauce,” as well as bean sprouts in a peanut sauce, spicy fired tofu (wow!), boiled cabbage, pickled cabbage, pickles, boiled egg, and a meatball with a sweetish oyster-like sauce, plus coconut and sugar, peanuts, and potato sticks! While Kent’s meal was separated in compartments, mine was mixed together, with the curried and goulash beef over noodles, with coconut, two types of cabbage, bean sprouts and potato sticks. I also had pork on a skewer with peanut sauce, a half “pork rind,” with a fried egg on top of it all! A variety of tastes and very good, although too much food. I had Spa mineral water and Kent tried the Amstel Gold and Tuborg Gold Label beers. Had to call the waiter, who was waiting, to let him know we were finished. He cleared away the dishes, and went to wait again! So we called again to get the check, leaving 47 NLG 50/$23.
Azië restaurant bill
Dinner conversation was about the Dutch people, religious tolerance, history, etc. Early to bed at 8:30.

Next: Amsterdam II.

Sunday, September 27, 1987

1987 Soccer (9/27/1987)

Sunday, September 27, 1987
After several weeks of cancelled games, there were finally soccer games today. Kyle’s Green Dragons played the Falcons, and Kyle kicked in the first goal when the ball ended up in front of him after a scramble near the goal.
That's Kyle surrounded by blue uniforms on the left
However, the Falcons were faster and they won 6-2.
Later we watched the Jets vs the Knights. Erich made great defensive kicks as fullback, as the teams tied.
Erich ready to make a defensive kick
Erich on the right

Saturday, September 26, 1987

1987 Purgatory Chasm (9/26/1987)

Saturday, September 26, 1987
After lunch we drove up RI/MA-146 to Sutton, MA. Just off the highway was the Purgatory Chasm State Reservation where the speed limit suddenly became 15 mph. We passed a picnic area, and the next parking lot was for the chasm, a rocky fissure that we hiked through for a half-mile, climbing over tumbled rocks.
Purgatory Chasm
The average width was 40’ and the depth ranged from 48-70’. The rocks were piled haphazardly in such a way to create “caves” in which dozens of boys of all ages were climbing, many with flashlights. We hiked through the chasm, and a bit beyond, seeing lots of mushrooms and pieces of pomegranate!
Puffball mushroom
We returned to the chasm to let the boys climb under the rocks.
Next we climbed to walk along the upper edge and saw Fat Man’s Misery, a crack in the rock.
Looking down
Fat Man's Misery
More fungi
We let the boys do some more exploring, then headed home.