Saturday, October 2, 2010

Amsterdam Pt 7 [Oost, Watergraafsmeer, Frankendael Park, Klein Dantzig]

This was my last day in Amsterdam and although every day was pretty darn amazing this last day was hands down the best. After two previous days of rain the sun came out and shone it’s golden self through a deep blue sky --- it was like the world was saying “here Letha, this is for you, we love you as much as you love us.” Or something like that…

I got up early, ate my bowl of Netherlands cereal (lots of dried fruit in granola) and then out of the house headed east. And here is why it was the best day; every corner I rounded, every new street I zigged down had me going “shit! Shiiiit! SHIT! Oh F**K!” in my head. This is what I do when the external world overwhelms me with its amazement, I swear like a sailor. It was, to put it mildly, a day of the world showing me it’s beauty over and over again until I was like; “enough already, my poor little heart can’t take much more!” and then it gave me more. Beauty and then a magical serendipitous find right at the end of the day that had me literally crying with joy (the other thing I do besides swearing when encountering beauty.)

North east of central Amsterdam is the Oost/Watergraafsmeer area (which I know now is where I would live if I lived in Amsterdam). This is where Osterpark is and I meandered through the park for a bit smiling at dogs, old men and babies in strollers….I should have taken more pictures of the Oost neighborhood, because man I loved it. But I was too busy saying “holy shit!” And then, after hours of wondering and a couple of quite stops on benches by canals and a lovely hour or so in a darling coffee shop I reluctantly decided I had better start on my way back to the flat and that’s when I found my magical find. I was walking along the edge of a big green space and saw a lane leading in…totally non-descript but I saw the corner of a little red house and a bit of a tiny canal and I followed the call in and found Klein Dantzing (Little Danzig) and Frankendael Park. To begin with the park it’s self, a reclaimed estate, is the best park I’ve ever been to. Although nothing like Seattle’s Discovery park in terms of topography and content the feel of the place (escape and heightened senses) is very similar…. Huge open spaces, a Greek folly hidden away in the vines off in one corner (full of giddy teenagers while I was there), canals around the edges, old brick smoke stacks incorporated into the kids playgrounds and a gorgeous greenhouse like restaurant; De Kas with its own huge garden out back that grows all the food that they put on the table… But the best part of the park is Little Danzig. A series of tiny little cottages that one can buy (!!! Oh God!) and then commit to maintain the garden plot that comes along with your house (and donate time to a community garden/meadow.) These little cottages are absolutely darling spaces; some trim and tidy, many wildly overrun with growing things, each different. All set back from tiny little lanes with their own little gate and walkway… For me, with the aesthetic I have that appreciates ‘hidden gardens’ and evidence of small passions and communal endeavors stumbling on Little Danzig made me cry. I stood in the middle of it all and had a little weep and then just explored the whole thing like a kid in a huge candy shop. I’m not sure if I was supposed to, the signs might have said “stay out” but frankly even if that was the case I would have still explored the whole darn place. And there you have it, my last day in the city of my soul. I will most definitely be returning someday, hopefully soon.I’ve been back in Seattle two days and already miss Amsterdam terribly…