Amsterdam//Utrecht

Goodtimes in Holland.

Leaving London was rough.  I mean I barely made my flight even though I was awake and walking away from the hostel at 3:00am.  I unwittingly took the right bus to the wrong bus/ train station (Paddington) Only to find out when I got there I had to double back to Kings Cross / Pancras in order to catch the correct train to Luton Airport.  Caught the 5:19am train, 30mins + // Shuttle bus // very loose security // and a quick gallop through the duty free gift shop // sprint across the tarmac, last person on the plane! Doors close and whew! That almost sucked!

Meeting up with Lidia was going to be…different. We hadn’t seen each other in 4 years.  She stayed with us briefly @L1980.  During which time we became friends and she extended the invite, “if you ever come to Europe hit me up!” I did and now I was waiting for her to walk up to the meeting point at Schiphol Airport.  Her birthday was 2 days before mine (June 14th/16th) So our plan was to meet up // and celebrate our birthdays in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was tourist central. Like Disney and Times Square with an international flare.  Ironically enough the first kids we chatted up in the coffee shop were from Anaheim, CA.  Practically neighbors.  We blazed, strolled around and blazed again, then dipped out of Amsterdam via train to Utrecht.  Bus 77 to Nieuwegein.

Lidia had arranged for us to stay with Jalita, a friend of hers, outside of Amsterdam. This was an option I didn’t have if not for Lidia. Whenever I travel it’s always cool to go off the tourists’ beaten path and kick it with the locals.  In this case we were treated like family upon arrival.  The house was full of music and good spirit.  Evert, Jalita’s pops, cooked stamppot, played guitar, rolled spliffs, and told stories about Indo.

Lidia and I decided Amsterdam was a bit much at the height of the tourist season, so we planned  to spend the day in Utrecht. Good call!  The city was beautiful, clean and charming.  Bikes! Holland’s national choice of transport.  Everyone was cruising, commuting, and flying by on bikes. We decided to just walk through the city on a canal towards the Dom Tower of Utrecht.

I had to leave my paint in London, because of airport security.  So I was restricted to sketching while we had drinks beside a canal.  The scene was gorgeous, trees, water, flowers, boats floating by, music in the air, glasses clinging, and people laughing in different languages. A proper celebration. Proper inspiration. At that point I was content and ready to paint.

I gave Evert the painting I made in Green Park (London) for being such a gracious host.  We said goodbyes grabbed our bags and headed to the train station in Amsterdam. Stashed the bags and headed to Vondel Park, to make a painting away from tourists Madness. The weather was sweet, the park was magnificent and we found a statue worthy of painting near a treelined stream. The park was teaming with sun-bathers, fut ballers, and local families, all enjoying the sunshine.

I started painting, and found out really fast… the acrylic set I bought was absolute crap. The paints were virtually see-through, almost like painting with watercolor.  I hadn’t realized by painting so many years with high quality acrylics, that I had finally arrived:  paint-quality snobbery.   This was madness for me, to have such a perfect scene and to be handcuffed by inferior working materials;  a challenge to say the least.  I did my best and swore to “finish” the piece later when I could by some proper paint.

Challenges aside, I painted, met passers by, handed out cards, spoke spanglish with a lady from Spain, and had a few cold beers.  Lidia rolled spliffs and took photos and videos, and right then Amsterdam set the hook deep.  I’m going back, not sure when, but I am sure it will be a rich experience.

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Amsterdam//Utrecht

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