On this past Friday, snow again fell upon the Netherlands. This of course was the day that Roxy and I decided to journey to the Albert Cuypmarkt over my lunch break to order a kalkoen (turkey) for Christmas dinner. Our expectation was that we would order one now, and pick it up next week. We were pleasantly surprised to see that no less than 2 slagerij (butcher) stands had turkeys in stock. Roxy picked out a small one, weighing in at 3kg (about 6.6 lbs), which cost €23. The Frenchman working the stand tried to convince us to spend more on the “French, free-range” variety, but we declined. When we asked about the turkey initially, he said “Ah, you are Americans, yes?” After picking out our turkey, he tried to sell us cranberries and other materials for dressing, before telling us “Enjoy your American Christmas turkey!”
Since this is my first winter here in Amsterdam, I cannot speak from experience, but everything I had read said that Amsterdam does not get a lot of snow. A cm here and a cm there, and that’s about it. Based on that assumption, and the budget shortfall that Amsterdam (and practically every other location in the world) is experiencing, the powers that be here decided to cut back on snow removal. This would be fine if temperatures stayed colder, or were warm enough that there is little/no snowfall. However, so far the temperatures here have been hovering right around freezing. This means that the snow starts to thaw, and then re-freezes as ice. All over the sidewalks. On my way home from the market, I almost fell quite a few times.
On Saturday, Roxy and I went down to Kingsalmarkt in Amstelveen, which is a large (for Amsterdam) grocery store that specializes in American and British food. €69 later, we had Cheez-Its, Manwich, Baking Soda, Crystal Light, and a host of other goodies. On the way home, I detoured out to do some Christmas shopping of my own. About an hour into my shopping, I was walking down a particularly icy sidewalk when my feet abandoned me, and I found myself hurtling towards the ice-covered brick sidewalk. Oww. I sheepishly stood up and found my way to a non-icy spot where I dusted myself off. A nice Dutchie came by and asked me “Ja goed?” (Are you good?). My shame did not last, as over the next 90 minutes I saw probably 6-8 other people fall. Thanks again for not clearing the sidewalks Amsterdam! Especially on the weekend before Christmas when everyone is out shopping!
Sunday, Roxy and I went to the Kerstmarkt (Christmas Market) at Albert Cuyp, but were disappointed by the offerings. However, after freezing outside for a while, it did give us the opportunity to visit our favorite coffeehuis, Cafe Delmondo, which sits right at the end of Albert Cuyp.
With it being cold out, almost everywhere you go is now offering “warme chocolade”, which is roughly Hot Chocolate. Each place does it differently, with some just warming up chocolate milk, and others putting small pieces of chocolate in milk and then steaming it. Delmondo belongs to the warm chocolate milk category, but it tastes damn good. There’s nothing like sitting in a comfy chair warming your frozen hands with a tall cup of hot chocolate, with slagroom (whipped cream) of course!
This afternoon, I’ll be making a quick train journey down to Rotterdam for some business. The trains are still running a reduced snow-schedule, but hopefully I’ll make it on time.