Food, glorious food.

I have lived on the road, off and on, for now going on thirty years. I have eaten a lot of crap, and i have the waistline to show for it. I have spent months at a time eating crappy pizza because that was the only restaurant in town to take plastic. I have eaten so much McDonalds I can actually smell one before I see it. The life of a travelling tech, or engineer, or salesman, is not an easy one.

One sales manager I knew said any field engineer worth his salt could live in his car stranded in a blizzard for several days on petrified french fries found under the seat, and melted snow. Me, I always have two cans of spam, several tins of oysters,a coughlin stove, and several granola bars just against that eventuality. And some bottled water. Snow melt is not that tasty.

Anyway, yeah, there’s a lot of calories of crap that have made up my diet over the years, but there have also been the good places. Cafe Berlin in Vegas. Chuck’s Diner in Heber Springs Arkansas. Dookey Chase in Nawleans. Ted Drewes in St Louis. Wolfgangs in Grand Rapids. Grange kitchen and bar in Ann Arbor. The Silver Ring Cafe in Lakeland Florida.

Now, I tend to gravitate to places like these. Little restaurants that serve good food and have done so for a long time. Upscale places, which are often upscale based soley on their prices, do little for me. SO when Tam posted a menu from Heidelberg Haus, it caught my eye. Next Indy I go to, I will check it out.

Lest anyone think I am some gomer, let me make myself clear; I have eaten at Delmonicos. THE Delmonicos. I have eaten at L’escargot in Soho. I have eaten some spectacular meals in some spectacular places, including Paris, London, and recently, Amsterdam. I love to eat, and I love good food. It’s just not necessary to spend a lot of money on it; the best steak I had was in a little dive in Sheboygan Wisconsin. The best Italian was in a little dive in NYC. And the best french in a private home turned restaurant by appoinment only in Crown Point Indiana.

This week, the garden is overflowing with tomatoes. I have cherry tomatoes for days, And each day I wash and halve a pint or so, add a can of chick peas, a can (or two) of black olives, some fresh mozzarella pearls, a little balsamic vinagrette and fleur de sel. I don’t think it’s possible for me to get tired of eating this, but I’m going to find out.
dinner

Oy.

I’ve been away now for almost a full month. And now I’m home, two nights in a row in my own bed, and starting to achieve something like “Normal”.

Though, normal for me is not exactly….

Anyway, sorry to have been out so long, I’m still trying to get things back online and will have some actual content in a bit. In the meantime, read this.

So, Hamsterdam

The first day I was swamped. was so tired from the flight, I slept all day. The previous parts of the week didn’t make things much easier either. I was pre-exhausted before I even got on the plane.

Today wasn’t a lot better, once I got to the onsite hotel I slept for four hours, but I’m finally up and around now.

the drive from Schiphol was enjoyable, I didn’t want to take a chance on losing the satnav so i didn’t try to turn on the radio. The roads were mirror smooth and the car a hybrid so I drove in silence, me and my thoughts. Well, and the occasional nagging from the satnav voice, trying to pronounce those Dutch town and street names with it’s english accent. What it lacked in accuracy it more than made up for in humor.

Driving was interesting if only for the view of all the hideous cars that you can buy here that they don’t bring to the US. Tiny renaults and Citroen delivery vans that you could park inside a Transit Connect. All those diesels they say we don’t want. Chevies masquerading as Opels. Mazda with Ford badges.

All the time tooling along on the ocean floor, or what once was the ocean floor.

At one point on the A 12 I drove along forested areas, all evergreen, none of the trees I could see more than forty or fifty years old. Closed canopy, too, no undergrowth. I think it was near Doorn. And then I saw what seemed to be bones, and a quick glance showed me row upon row of white bleached headstone. many had fallen over and I wondered if the evergreens were planted or volunteer, and who if anyone tended the graves anymore.

Once I got to Veenendaal I tried to check into the hotel but was two hours early and instead went and got something to eat and drove around to familiarize myself. A couple of things became stunningly apparent.

In the airport I noticed a LOT of women who were- to my m ind- misshapen. I’m used to women that fill out a pair of jeans in a specific way, and they just weren’t around. And it puzzled me. Now I understand. It’s from spending half your life sitting on a certain type of bicycle seat which is very popular here. Muscular buns on the outside, almost nothing in the middle. But I digress.

What this countryside needs is a lawnmower. if a weed springs up in the pavement, they leave it alone to grow. There are a few areas that are mowed, but most of it is just natural weeds, the kind i have been trying to STOP growing in my backyard for years. Makes everything look like Detroit, except that during the week I assume this is all a hive of activity.
really, really high population density. And bikes for everything. Hard to find a place to park a car. There’s an indoor garage at my hotel, sort of. This is my hotel.

van-der-valk-hotel-veenendaal

No, the Thunderbirds do not live and work here.

Outside my window a couple of guys had set up tents against the drizzle and were fishing in a sort of a retention pond. At one point a girl came and joined them, couldn’t keep her hands off either of them, eventually they all left. Apparently she had given them ideas about a better type of pastime for a sunday afternoon.

In all the places I have been there has been clear demarcation between mens and women’s johns, the only places any different are hardcore adult clubs etc. I asked about it and was told that “Only the perverts” use places like that and most people shy away. The stewardesses (yes, they still call them that) at KLM are chosen for their looks and they look like right out of Mad Men, right down to the scarves and little hats.

Lots of women’s bikes (With the stepthrough) but not all women use them If you’re wearing pants it makes sense, but women bike around wearing tight, short dresses. The stepthrough allows them to pedal and still keep their knees demurely together. Most of them while stopping at lights will pull up to a sign and hold onto the sign so they dont have to dismount, because in a dress like that you just don’t put a foot down.

Bikers are courteous and seem to stringently follow the rules of the road. They have the right of way but never TAKE it., as far as I have seen, Roundabouts have special bike lanes. The bikers pay a tax for a license which helps finance bike paths, or so I’m told. Maybe because it’s Sunday people are just being on their best behavior.

more later.

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