I’m beginning to think there is an expat God out there with a sense of humour. This expat God has a well-used gold sledgehammer that she (the expat God is a she) keeps smashing up our romantic dreams with. I can almost hear her tutting and sighing over our pointless mortal attempts at yet another stab at a romantic holiday. The expat God has a voice just like Whoopi Goldberg and she’s starting to get annoyed. ‘I gave you the best city in the Netherlands; found you the perfect house and you still don’t give up. When will you learn to stay put.’
Oh I’m learning. I’m definitely learning.
Last Friday as I hunched over scraping the last wedges of faecal matter from the bottom of my trainers with a twig, Mr Sunshine suggested an overnight trip to Amsterdam. ‘Come on, it’s only one night, we deserve a treat.’
By Saturday lunch time, Alfie was reunited with his favourite doggy sitter and we were resisting the many bars and stumbling into our first museum, Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder (17th century canal house with a church in the attic). I been walking approximately 10 minutes by this time and already regretted that last minute purchase of trainers from Lidl. Mr Sunshine commandeered the camera and I looked for anything I could sit/lean on to ease the pain in my feet.
Three hours later after eating twice, chatting in a cosy bar and visiting a museum of spectacles (not marvels – reading glasses) we rang the doorbell of the hotel. The best things about the Hotel Washington are its good intentions and the friendly staff who had the grace to look embarrassed. Our room was in a separate building reached by four flights of stairs, information the receptionist rather defensively pointed out was in the booking terms. I didn’t care, just so long as I could take my shoes off. I didn’t care about the state of bedroom either, but Mr Sunshine didn’t look happy. This was not the romantic hotel room of his dreams.
It didn’t matter we were together, on holiday in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
We decided on a steak dinner.
Nothing is guaranteed to improve Mr Sunshine humour like a big juicy steak. As we sat holding hands across the table, congratulating ourselves on a lovely restaurant another romantic couple were seated next to us. The man reminded me a little of Vinnie Jones with an Eastern European accent. His partner; however, was not so easy to describe as he was the only one able see her. That didn’t seem to prevent them from having loud conversations for the entire duration of the meal. Out of all the restaurants in Amsterdam, of course, he choose this one.
To take away the memory of Vinnie Jones and his invisible partner we went to see Gravity. Then retired to an Irish bar that charged 12 Euros a round to discuss the film. Andy’s score: 4 out of 5; mine 1 out of 5. Andy was impressed by the way the lead, Sandra Bullock, hadn’t been sexualised. I wondered if we’d seen the same film: the long slow shots of Sandra Bullock’s perfectly toned legs or constant scenes with her emerging from space suits wearing a skimpy pair of pants and a vest were definitely necessary for the plot.
The next day we set out for the museum quarter. The Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk museum were rightly overflowing with art appreciators, but I’m not sure I was one. I crept away from the Rembrandts’ and the van Goghs’ teeming with groupies, they needed no more admiration. Instead, I fell in love with the story behind the 17th century woollen caps worn by Dutch whalers.
Too soon the two pieces of flayed throbbing flesh I’d squashed in my new Lidl trainers began to demand a release and the special steak I’d eaten last night began a rather worrying downhill burn. Then just to prove her point the expat God with Whoopi Goldberg voice took away the sun and replaced it with a mini hurricane.
We went home.