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H.Q. Amsterdam

Renting an urban apartment in Amsterdam was based on reading online reviews and economy. We would be able to cook some meals and our money would go further, and as well, we would really be "in" the city. The location was listed as very close to the Museum Quarter and since the idea that originally prompted this trip was to see the great Rijksmuseum, that seemed perfect. Other than that I really had no idea how it would work out for us. 

Having our base in Amsterdam on a street within walking distance of some of the places we wanted to see, restaurants, and a grocery store, turned out to be great. Our apartment on Gerard Dou Straat was equipped with a washing machine, convection oven, fridge and small appliances; everything we needed. On the street corner there was an artsy music store with a glittering glass mosaic in the style of Picasso on the wall.

On our first evening Tori and I tried to capture the beauty of the place in photographs--just an ordinary street in Amsterdam, yet so many interesting things to see: bikes everywhere; beautiful flowers growing beside every front door it seemed; interesting windows, doors, people. So much to take in.

It was "cosy" but no one minded!

Tori needs her personal space, so she volunteered to sleep on the couch. After a few days she became quite firm about the curfew for anyone who might be watching TV in her "bedroom." At 10 p.m. she decreed "lights out," and we obeyed. Years ago I talked to my granddaughters about "authentic self representation," in other words, straight forwardly saying what you really feel, not saying what you think will please the listener; which we women often have trouble with. Tori is the one with whom it seems to have stuck best, and she still quotes that phrase, saying, "You told us..." :) 

Looking out into the courtyard garden and at the buildings facing our bedrooms, reminded me of the back of my grandmother's flat in Rotterdam. The second floor back bedroom window looked down onto a courtyard of gravel and greenery edged by doors and windows from which small bits of other people's lives could be  glimpsed. One of the neighbours had gymnastic hoops hanging from the door to the courtyard and although I never saw anyone using them, I was sometimes the invisible audience to someone practicing the piano; the notes reverberating in the enclosed space.

 I was so happy that the girls were experiencing something close to my happy memories. I think the "Thank you's," started soon after we arrived. The excitement at coming had been great, but now we were "here," and it was all so "different," and (mostly) wonderful. Many times over the days together one or other of the girls would turn to me, look into my eyes and say, "Thank you." My thank you was being 
here, with them.

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