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I hate the countryside already

Moved from the hotel, which was stopgap due to schedule messup, to the Airbnb place originally asked for. Had been described as somewhat rural and rustic village not too far out. More like 6 or so houses in the middle or green flatness, 25 minutes by bus. My amsterdam pass doesn't work on those buses, I need another 4€ each way. The buses run "6x an hour" which is actually 3 overlapping 30 minute buses, not one bus running every 10 minutes. Nearest food is in Edam, supposedly 5 minutes away by bus but I wouldn't know since two buses raced by without stopping. I'm currently going back to Amsterdam for the evening since I know it and have maps, though I don't know of a good supermarket downtown. Though I'm already rather tempted to look into cancellation and just go somewhere else.

Finally got a SIM card, Vodafone. Comes with data though I can't tell the rates. Signal is very weak where I'm staying.

The two bus drivers I've talked to on this line have had poor English, which I realize is an irrational complaint.

Naturally, my eee/Ubuntu doesn't like the wifi encryption, and this time there's no ethernet jack so I've had to revert to old USB boot.

Hans had recommended Dutch fried food. This would require my having seen a Dutch restaurant. I have not. Everything is some other type of restaurant, or generic pizza/burger place... Ok, no longer true; I passed a hotel restaurant with a short but explicitly Dutch menu. The items did not particularly appeal... I asked a guy on the street, and he could think of one place, reachable by "avoid being eaten by a grue" directions.

So I'm at an all you can eat Japanese restaurant, though it might not be worth it, compared to my happy memories of Vancouver. Can order 5 items at once, many being singlel pieces of nigiri. And they don't serve tap water, which morally offends me, though I didn't think to just walk out at that point. Fast serving of my order, though, except for the gyoza. Nigiri are half the usual width. Miso was the most interesting I've had ina while, tofu and seaweed and green onion. Bloomington had better gyoza. Decent salmon. Worst red snapper ever. I now realize that what I wanted was yellowtail, and I got confused between that (which isn't on the menu) and the always bland snapper, but it was still, well, different than any other snapper. Chewier and more opaque. Wasn't a mistaken piece of octopus, in case you wonder. Bunch of tempura, including novel fish tempura. Cold soba noodles. Tuna salad, which from the picture I'd though would be seared tuna but was actually more like canned tuna. Fish balls, which are okay but not very exciting.

Jack's having hallucinations outside of Paris. Quicksilver just got weird.

They're irritatingly inconsistent. Order one thing, and you get a little piece of sushi. Order another, and you get a plate of beef or bowl full of noodles and things.

Earlier I'd stopped into the Victoria Hotel, which turned out to be an experience itself: the entrance is an automatic revolving... thing, like a glass door but missing a partition, so it's more like a secret bookcase... Anyway, I went in to ask about proper supermarkets downtown, figuring there must be some. It's physically inobvious, only the store name announcing its presence. I think it's in a converted hotel story itself. Anyway, went there after dinner; it's right by the bus station so as convenient a market as I'd find in Edam, barring the travel time. Hardly any bread though, though I did get a couple more crappy Dutch croissants (the last batch was crunchier than usual, especially the next morning). Some muesli was cheap, €1/kg, so I figured I could have that and milk for a while. I asked, and kaerne milk is sour milk. Buttermilk? Reminds me of the sour milk I inadvertently got in London, though it didn't say so. I got volle instead -- whole, obviously.

The 7.50 seems to get me a daypass, so I could at least go back and forth. Possibly even take other lines from this company. There seems to be some integration with my card -- maybe I could put cash on top of the pass and pay for the daypasses that way.

BTW, when I say 25 minute bus ride, I don't mean slow urban, I mean down a highway at speed, with a stop every 5 minutes. There's a TV screen of sorts on the bus, which on the first one was a mix of ads and upcoming stops, on the second one didn't work, and on the third one was just ads. Fortunately a voice announced the upcoming stops.

Sorry for being so negative, but I'm tired and still coughing and moving into surprises like this is stressful.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the tap water thing is rather uncommon in western europe as far as I can tell. More common in the south and parts of france, but don't expect it in Germany or Netherlands.

As for the fried food - I wouldn't look for an actual restaurant, more a booth or some such. Look for frikandel, bitterballen, kroket... there is probably more but it's been a couple years.

Also, I am not sure if its Matjes season - thats a kind of a short pickled herring.

If you dislike the command of english in dutch busdrivers, I am curious what country you want to venture to next...
Oct. 18th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
Well, I got spoiled quickly by everyone else's command of English!

Everyone else -- well, minus maybe one other place in the UK I did balk at, but my memory is dim -- so far has *served* tap water. They don't bring it automatically as much of the US does, and they might default to bottled if you're naive enough to just ask for water, but it's come when I asked. The Internet told me to ask for carafes in Paris, and in fact carafes of tap water seemed standard -- at one place they were cooling in a fridge, and the server just pulled one out and put it on my table. And my other restaurants in Amsterdam have served water; as I said, one brought out a carafe when I asked for a refill.

But this one not only refused, but even had it down in their menu, along with all the other conditions of their all-you-can-eat: "We do not serve tap water." So they got another 4 euros from me for 2 cups of green tea and I'll never go back there again.

Of course, I've basically been stuck in the tourist section of Amsterdam. Wait, no I haven't, last night's lasagna was near my hotel in a rather quiet area, and she brought a glass of water.

What, German and Dutch restaurants in your experience are out to make you pay for drinks?
Oct. 18th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)

yeah, in the netherlands they mostly don't dub tv - hence the overall good english skills, especially in a large city like Amsterdam you can easy get the impression everyone is fluent.

The tap water thing is kinda strange. Yes, if you explicitely ask, most places will serve it. It somehow seems to be a bit socially stigmatized. Eating out in Europe is, contrary to the states, the exception, not the rule. And you are kinda sorta expected to order a drink. So yes, most places begrudgingly serve you tap, but it's kinda impolite to ask. I would never.

Also: No free refills. Don't expect to get free refills ever. You might run into some plesant surprises, but don't expect it. In the end the fact that you pay much less tip then here usually makes up for the price difference for drinks in my experience though.

I havent been to that many Dutch restaurants, but I know that most German places make their money on the drinks, not so much the food they sell. So especially "all you can eat" places tend to be a bit pricey towards that end.
Oct. 18th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Eating out seems exceptional to me; I'm doing a ton of it specifically because I'm traveling. Of course, I grew up poor; co-workers and even other IU people seem to rely on it as a major food source, vs. a social or occasional thing... 'course, these days even I might eat out a few times a week, especially if people are involved, or inconvenient schedules. (I was very exceptional for bringing a lunch to work... really cut me out of the office social life, though eating at 2 instead of 12 would do that too.)

But if it's more *special* in Europe, plus the assumption that everyone has wine or beer with a meal, I could see that happening... I basically don't drink alcohol or soft drinks ever, and I'm not a fan of tea or coffee with most of my meals, so I don't really have much choice.

Lots of US restaurants make much of their money on drinks, too, especially soft drinks where 2 cents of gloppy syrup can be sold for a dollar. To which I gesture o|o

Ah, Japan, where half the restaurants had free green tea. Even fast food places. Low-end tea from a bulk dispenser maybe, but still free decent (not too bitter) tea.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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