Wednesday 24 March 2010

A long week-end in Amsterdam, March 2010

Last Friday, Maggie and I flew to Amsterdam for the week-end. We got a 7am flight from Southampton airport, less than 10 miles away, getting to Amsterdam's central station by 10am local time - not bad considering UK is an hour ahead.

Once again we stayed at the same little hotel on the Prinzengracht, this time in a room facing onto the canal. The only down side was that it was on the 4th floor, and if you've ever been in a narrow 17th century dutch town house, you'll know exactly how challenging that can be. I'm 6'7'' and on one of the flights I had to limbo backwards to get down the stairs.

Amsterdam is a great place for shopping. If you like hats, the English Hatter is a great place to go. I thought I'd lost my black Kangol 504 so bought another one, along with a black cotton/linen mix in a similar style, though when I got home I found my old one in the loft.

Since it was Maggie's birthday, I got her a pretty little brooch from Laloli, and as I'd bought a number of things there over the past few years, Sandra (one of the three sisters who make all of the jewelery) gave Maggie a pair of silver and pearl ear-rings as a present. Thank you, Sandra, Monique and Marianne.

Go Gallery

In 2008, I went to the Go Gallery to buy a Moon Calendar and discovered Sit's Unwired exhibition which was running at the time, but on my last two trips I just couldn't find it. I must have walked up and down the odd side of the Prinzengracht four times but just couldn't see it. This year, while paying for the Duvel I'd just drunk, I asked the owner of the little bar on the even side of the canal (No. 44, I think) if she knew the Go Gallery, and she said "Oh yes, it's just a few doors down". You know, I'd been convinced that it was on the other side, but there it was, at Prinzengracht 64!.

This time, the gallery was running the first solo exhibition by Michiel van der Born, a young Dutch typographer. The exhibition is called "26 Characters", and features 26 acrylic paintings of all of the letters of the alphabet. Here's the composite view used to promote the show. I currently use this in tesselated form as my lap-tops background.

 I didn't buy one of those, but I did buy "typotalk" (4/15), another piece of his work on show there:

I do love typography and can't wait to get it framed and hung. Here's my YouTube playlist of some good typography videos that I've collected.

The above two images in this post are Copyright © Michiel van der Born.

Speaking of Moon Calendars, I bought the new one and the owner gave me the one from 2009 that I missed getting last year. Thanks so much.

My usual mode of transport in Amsterdam is walking and believe me, I did a lot of it in those three days! It's strange you know, but for such a small and compact city, most of the places I wanted to be were a surprising distance from each other. One day, while walking between two such places, I spotted De Bierkoning, possibly the best beer shop in the world, and certainly the best I've ever been in. Confused by the enormous choice of what seemed like 1,000 different bottles, I plumped for a single bottle of green label (or kleine) Duvel. At 7.5%, it's about 1% weaker than the regular. Cold-filtered and sold in 25cl bottles, it's perfect for drinking ice cold and straight from the bottle.

Yellow and Red meet

That's the title of the piece of glass by Ton Verdegaal that I bought at the Tatiana De La Fuente Art Gallery at Prinzengracht 308a. I'll try to take a good photo of it and post it here. It looks beautiful in our dining room, front-lit, casting a yellow shadow on the wall behind. You can see some wondeful examples of his work, though not my piece, on his web site.

Maggie and I saw it on Saturday while we were walking somewhere and I didn't manage to get back there until late on Sunday afternoon when the gallery had already closed. Not only did the owner open the shop and show me the work while her guest was left waiting, but she personally delivered the piece to my hotel, securely wrapped for air travel and complete with it's certificate of authenticity. Thank you, Sara, for such wonderful service.