Out Out

For our final night in Amsterdam we headed first for a meal at small restaurant on the banks of the Amstel river, and then on towards the Rembrandt area, where numerous bars and cafes surround a statue of the namesake artist – looking out over a paved area lined with illuminated trees.

The restaurant – “Lumbini” serves nepalese quisine, and is obviously a family business, and a favourite of local people. It was cosy, friendly, warm, and the food was wonderful. I ordered “momo” – a nepalese take on dumplings, followed by a traditional nepalese main meal.

Alongside us two men sat at a table and without looking at the menu asked if they could have a “Chicken Madras and some naan breads”. There was no chicken madras on the menu – we checked. The waiter asked several guiding questions, to which the responded “chicken madras” again, and again.

Why? Why bother choosing a particular restaurant if you’re going to deliberately remain ignorant and beligerent in your ignorance?

We loved everything about the place. Of course it wasn’t as polished and professional as a chain restaurant – but that’s why we chose it. The waiting staff really cared that everything was good for you, and the service was prompt, efficient, and friendly.

After eating ourselves to a standstill, and making a bottle of wine disappear, we set off into the night. I’m not sure my other half was altogether up for going anywhere too noisy – but I had done some research. After pulling Google Maps from my pocket, I strode confidently in the direction of the “famous” Pianobar, just off Rembrandtplein.

Within the pianobar, a musician held court across the entire bar area with a piano – built into the bar – from which he played requests and sang. We figured out pretty quickly that if you bought a second drink, the bartender delivered request cards to your table – which you could scribble on and then deliver to the top of the piano.

It was fantastic. He was fantastic (the muscian). He seemed to know almost every song thrown at him – no doubt achieved by side-stepped suggestions he didn’t know. At one point – after he had the whole place singing “Angels” along with him, I walked forward with “Grace Kelly” by Mika written large on a card. He looked at the card, shouted it out to the entire bar – that it was a great song – and then didn’t play it.

As he finished his set, we called it a night and wandered back throught the crowds to our hotel – finishing the night with a nightcap served by the quite mad barman that had served us throughout our stay. We never did find out his name.

He was tall, gangly, with scruffy hair, and a never-ending supply of flowery shirts. While mixing drinks he seemed to be all elbows and fingers – but was fast, professional, and full of wise-cracks in all manner of languages.

While waiting to be served I’m pretty sure he was offering a difference of opinion to a group of young men at the other end of the bar about the best place to buy marijuana nearby.

We never did try any cookies or cakes during our stay. We didn’t walk through the red light district either (it was quite some way away – across the city). I think it would have felt a bit odd anyway – going there just to gawp. I’ve written before about my unease with the situation those working there might be facing.


We’re on the Eurostar home now. Several hours rumbling across Holland, Belgium, France, and England before meeting a waiting car at St Pancras to drive us the rest of the way home.

A holiday to remember.

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