Still Alone in Amsterdam

Continued from All Alone in Amsterdam

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On my second day in Amsterdam (first full day), as I was walking to the next museum I planned to visit, I decided to once again try to capture that perfect canal shot; the one I always see at stores but never buy because I figure I can take it myself (well no cigar yet). It was a cold and blustery day feeling much colder than the previous day even with its rain. My destination was the Stedlijk Musuem where I planned to use my Museum Card again.

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I really like modern art museums but there are times when I have a really difficult time appreciating some of the artwork. But I continue to visit them as I almost always find an unexpected piece I really like.

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Like this Van Gogh painting of the kitchen fields behind Montmartre in Paris, a painting I had just read about in my book.

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Or I learn something I never knew like the fact that the modern architecture and design style known as the Amsterdam School predated the 1925 International Exposition in Paris of modern design that led to what we know today as art deco. It’s discoveries like these that keep me going to modern art museums even though I simply puzzle at many of the works.

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Once I finished my tour of all the exhibits, I planned to eat lunch at their coffee shop but there was a long line and I remembered from previous experience that the service was very slow. So I changed my plans and decided to eat at the restaurant inside de Bijenkorf (translated, the beehive), the high-end retail department store that Anne Frank actually shopped in during her too-short lifetime. It might seem odd to eat lunch at a department store but I actually had an ulterior motive.

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All morning long as I had made my way to and from the museum, I had only seen one other person wearing just a sweater as their outer protection against the cold. And that person was much older than me (as my wife would say another knuckle-head like me). The garment I noticed people wearing the most frequently was a down jacket.

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I recalled one other trip to Amsterdam when the weather turned out to be much colder than we anticipated; my wife had purchased a really warm but lightweight down jacket at de Bijenkorf. Only that was in October at the beginning of winter; not mid-April when winter should have been over.

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In their limited selection, I did find one for 100 euros but it was too small, as I couldn’t even zip it. I found a few others in the store, major brand names, but I was unwilling to pay the 200 to 500 euro price for them.

I never go out to just “shop” but when there is an item I need, as my wife knows, I become very task-focused. I decided my next best option was to explore stores along the Kalverstraat, the famous shopping street exclusively for pedestrians. I first went to H&M, a store my wife had bought clothes at before. But I didn’t find any down jackets; an item likely not to be in line with the pricing of their other clothing items there.

I tried a number of other stores, some of which I just went in to get out of the rain. And in a couple of these, I actually found jackets for about 30 euros but then I realized a real down jacket would never sell for only 30 euros. I can’t imagine how many stores I entered (remember I am VERY task-focused) but by the time I had made my way to the Dam Square, I was losing hope.

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However on the square, I found a store I had never been in and one I couldn’t even recall seeing before as it is on one side of a large building that houses Madame Tussauds wax museum. Maybe the long line usually stretching out of the wax museum entrance normally blocked my view of the store. I only went in because I could see it was a store with at least three floors. When I reached the top floor where the men’s clothes were, I was amazed to see that they had a large selection of down jackets, surprisingly this late in the season. Some came in familiar sizes (S-M-L-XL) and some came in number sizes. I tried on a size 50 (I have no idea what the number meant but it was not what I thought as I wear a size 42 jacket and this 50 was way too small). I tried on a 58 and it was too big. At least I was getting somewhere.

Over in the corner, I spied some others that came in sizes I was familiar with and among them I found a perfect fit. As I expected, it was very lightweight but warm. And it was just 140 euros, a little more than I had hoped to pay but much less than the 200 euros I was unwilling to spend.

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I was anxious to get back to the hotel and get out of my sweater and into my coat so I wouldn’t stand out as an old country bumpkin coming to Amsterdam without appropriate clothing.

I also discovered the added bonus of this type of jacket is that it packs very nicely into its own small bag for travel.

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As I made my way out for dinner that night, I felt much more like I fit in with my new jacket. And when I got back to the hotel after dinner, I discovered an added bonus of all my walking that I had broken two of my Fitbit records.

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My first 25,000-step day…

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…and my first 100,000-step week; two goals I had been trying to achieve for almost 12 months, since the last time I was in Amsterdam.

To be continued…

2 responses to “Still Alone in Amsterdam

  1. I am glad you found a coat! It always seems like it’s harder to find something when you really need it, at least for me! And so cool that it comes in its own little bag. Looking sharp!

    • Thanks, I was determined to find one as it was just too chilly to go without one. Now I have a great one to travel with that is light weight, warm, and packs nicely.

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