We got up a bit earlier than the day before, and had breakfast out on the chilly balcony, after saying goodbye to Jasper. We cleaned up a bit, and packed up a bit, knowing we had to get back around 4:30pm to get ready for our train ride to Paris.
We rode our bikes – about a 15 minute ride – to the Stedelijk Museum, which is a modern art museum near the Van Gogh, Rijks, and other museums. We loved the art! We especially loved the first floor, with pre-1960s art, but also some of the more modern and contemporary works as well. Pieces by Kandinsky, Mondriaan, Cezanne, Sol Lewitt, Esther Kroon, Hans Haacke, Nam June Paik, Jean Tinguely, Hellicar & Lewis, Werkman, and Naom Gabo stood out to us.
We were running short on time because we had to return the bikes by the early afternoon, so we hastened our pace through the rest of the museum and gift shop and rode back to Frederic’s. We attempted to get a guy to take pictures of us on bikes, but the timing is more difficult than it seems 🙂
We sat down by a canal and ate sandwiches. We brought the ukulele, convinced we were going to play it, but yet again, it sat in the case. Nearby Frederic’s is a neighborhood called the Jordaan, which is a highly recommended stroll in all the guidebooks. It’s very picturesque, with fewer canals than other neighborhoods, but more shared central space in which to play and sit. It’s a posh neighborhood – very expensive to live there.
Our guidebook’s tour was great. It told us of secrets you could never know just by walking by… for example, there’s a certain door you can open and walk in to the courtyard of a 17th century home for widows. The sunlight filters in to a majestic garden. At some point, maybe 45 minutes in, we were ready to sit. We looked for a cafe that the guidebook had recommended, great for outside seating on a terrace next to a canal. But there were no seats left. We tried to find another place with good seating, but to no avail. We went back to the cafe and begrudgingly went inside for sandwiches and coffee. It was nice to rest our feet, but Amy really wanted to sit on that terrace. C’est la vie!
We were running low on time and still needed to stop by a herring stand. We found one near the central station, and got up the nerve to order raw herring (filleted, with the tail still on, and raw onions sprinkled on top). A traditional Dutch snack, at least for some of the older crowd 🙂 We got one to share and Nathan was the first to give it a go. He enjoyed it greatly. As you can see by Amy’s pained expressions, however, she was not a fan. To put it mildly.
We headed back to Jasper’s, packed everything up and went to the train station to catch our train to Paris. We were running low on time and Amy was getting nervous, although we had built in some buffers. The train from Jasper’s to central station was running about 5 minutes late, but we made it to the Thalys train about 15 minutes before it left. The ride was fast, with just a few stops (just over 3 hours from Amsterdam to Paris, which are about 500 km distance by car).
Once we got to Gare du Nord, we were supposed to catch the Metro line 2 to Couronnes. Unfortunately, there was not a single sign in the train station with any hint of a metro line 2. After wandering around for awhile, we went to an information desk. We asked the guy behind the counter if he spoke English (in French), and he said no. We tried to communicate what we were looking for. He was not helpful, at all. In fact, he seemed tired and very annoyed, and was just not nice. This was our first interaction in Paris and it lived up to all the stereotypes.
After poking around a bit more and debating what to do, we went to another information desk, hoping that our second try would be more successful than the first. The second guy was nice, but also didn’t speak English. He tried to communicate with us and at least got us headed in the right direction, though it wasn’t really clear what we needed to do. We got up to the RER gate and, not knowing what to do next, paused. We were nearing the height of our frustration and Amy was about ready to cry.
Someone asked us for help (ha!). We saw the same guy asking a nice younger woman for help, so we asked her for help after he left. As she was trying to remember how to walk to line 2, an Indian man overheard us and asked if we needed help. He explained that he knew where to go and worked as a French/English translator so he liked to practice with people. He shuffled us through the RER gate with his pass (probably not allowed), and walked us towards the long series of hallways that would lead to the Metro line 2. We were extremely grateful for his help, and didn’t have much trouble after that. We made it to Sheila and Austin’s place. Sheila had left a family gathering to come meet us at the apartment, and got us acquainted with their very very small home – 27 square meters… Google it 😉