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5. Venice Isn't Alone

A float trip unlike any other

Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Friday, May 6, 2016

After breakfast, we are whisked back to the Geneva Airport at 9:00 arriving in ample time for our noon departure aboard KLM to Amsterdam. The flight is short—under 90 minutes—and we negotiate the gigantic and opulent Schiphol Airport where one enormous terminal building is home to three separate departure terminals. Since we remain inside the European Union on our move from Switzerland to The Netherlands, we need not show our passports or encounter immigration authorities. It is just like flying from one U.S. destination to another—there is no hassle other than security which is here as it is at home.

Our reason for choosing Amsterdam as our post-meeting destination is to visit the Asscher family—they of Royal Asscher Diamond fame. B4 has become a primary retailer of Royal Asscher's "Asscher Cut" square diamonds in the U.S. and that has resulted in a friendship between the family and B4 and, by extension, me. Lita collects us at Schiphol and delivers us to The Hotel Okura Amsterdam which sits four miles south of the Central Railway Station in a neighborhood not frequented by tourists. Alongside a canal, the setting is more like one would encounter staying at Airbnb instead of a high rise hotel. We are upgraded to a mini-suite—a corner room which sports a bathroom with twin pedestal sinks standing guard in front of floor to ceiling windows. It makes quite an impression. More on that later.

After time to unpack we are back at the lobby and again whisked away by Lita and her fiance to meet her father, Edward and brother Mike and a Japanese businessman who is the CFO of Seiko Holdings—a friend of Edward’s. large_52b5eb70-2f4e-11ea-9661-dff4920f36f4.jpglarge_530e44a0-2f4e-11ea-9661-dff4920f36f4.jpglarge_530ee0e0-2f4e-11ea-9991-d165fed63495.jpglarge_53597e70-2f4e-11ea-9b76-e75e0c33840c.jpglarge_53a8afe0-2f4e-11ea-83da-d9628e7db8db.jpglarge_53aa3680-2f4e-11ea-8d78-914e2081f16f.jpglarge_52b723f0-2f4e-11ea-9991-d165fed63495.jpgWe board a canal boat, pop open cans of Heineken Beer and a nice bottle of Prosecco to accompany the hors-doeuvres brought on board by Lita. Our boat captain points out the sights as we wind our way through the canals that distinguish Amsterdam in concentric arms reminiscent of the wings of Washington’s Pentagon.

The weather is perfect and the conversation is better. It is the first time in Amsterdam for B4 and I have been here only once but that was, what, twenty-five years ago? Of course, Amsterdam is the same. Unlike American cities which evolve and change, European cities remain as they were. One can leave the “Old City” centers of these places and visualize the same thing that was there centuries before.

Like taking the Grey Line tour upon first arrival in a new city, our boat ride serves a similar purpose by marking in our minds all the places that we would like to linger over during the next two days, returning by foot to linger instead of float too quickly by.

When, after 90 minutes or so, our float trip ended, we returned to quickly clean up for dinner for two at Rijks Restaurant which sits in the shadow of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. We dine, as it were, in Rembrandt’s back yard.

When we arrived in our room we were greeted by a hot house environment that hit us like a furnace when we opened the door. The air conditioning had ceased to function in our absence but the sun had not; one of our corner windows faced west as did the floor to ceiling glass in the bathroom. My deodorant stick melted in its plastic container while my hair gel liquefied. I called downstairs and was promptly accused of bringing this heat wave upon myself by, perhaps, leaving the window open. “The air conditioning will not function with a window open,” I was told. Neither B4 nor I had opened a window but, upon inspection, I found one that sported a broken latch and had blown open just enough to break the circuit which operated the air conditioning cutoff.

No hotel employee distinguished themselves during this fiasco except for the hotel engineer who tried valiantly to cool the place down. It took too long but, eventually, once we returned from dinner, the place became again inhabitable.

Dinner at Rijks was morels and tuna tartar preceded 4-week aged ribeye which was sold by the kilogram. Lovely.

We walked back to the Okura and to a mostly abated hotel heat wave. Having no meetings nor work to do the following day, we did not set an alarm.

Posted by paulej4 15:57 Archived in Netherlands

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