It’s A Small World, Part II

Michael in second "M"

Michael in second “M”

I don’t actually have an “It’s A Small World, Part I” post; but I could have if I had so titled my post of August 30, 2012, regarding bumping into a friend, after a 30+ year absence, at the British Air lounge when Michael and I went to Italy last year.  But I won’t let that omission get in the way of a good title now.  But let us begin at the beginning.

Shortly after we arrived at our apartment, our hosts, who are both singers for the Netherland’s Opera offered to get us tickets for the premier of “L’amour des Trois Oranges,” in which they both appear.  We accepted their offer and the opera was last night.  Wanting to make an evening of it, we asked if they could recommend some restaurants, which they did.  The one we chose is a tiny Italian place very close to the opera house, which is in the same building as the city hall.

We spent the day leading up to the opera doing all the touristy things:  The Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour of the city (not that good); the Van Gogh exhibit at the Hermitage* (absolutely incredible, although Michael likes the Rembrant’s, Vermeer’s and Hals’ that we saw at the Rijksmuseum the day before better); and, general gawking at everything (great fun).

Because of the size of the restaurant, we got there when it opened at five.  We sat at a table for four, the place filled up, and another couple was seated at our table.  They were Dutch, not from Amsterdam, and were delightful . . . and, like pretty much everyone we have met, completely fluent in English.

The whole dinner experience was great.  The service was very good and the food was delicious.  The conversation was lively and funny.  We were sitting at a table at a window and, after a couple of hours, I noticed a man outside who had just left the restaurant.  I thought he looked like a Dutch guy I met when I was in Kyrgyzstan in 2000.**  So, I tapped on the window to get his attention, which it did, and then went outside as said, “Are you Arnold?”  And he replied, “Yes.  I thought I recognized you, too”

Unbelievable, the only person I have ever met from Amsterdam and we bump into each other at an Italian restaurant on Amstelstraat.  It’s not as if Amsterdam is a small city.  Of course, Arnold works for the mayor of Amsterdam and has his office in the city hall, so, I guess that increased the odds of him being in that area but still . . .

And, speaking of the opera, not that we were, it was fun.  “L’amour des Troix Oranges” was written by Sergei Prokofiev, and is sort of farcical.  Not quite as much as the Moliere play “The Servant of Two Masters,” which we saw in Ashland a couple of years ago, but light enough that our lack of operatic education and exposure wasn’t detrimental.  Since the opera was in French, there were supertitles in both Dutch and English, so we even understood the lyrics.  And, since we had packed binoculars for our safari, we took them with us and were able to scrutinize the performers from our second balcony, front row seats.  A late walk home capped a most enjoyable evening.

*The Van Gogh Museum is undergoing renovations and the paintings have been temporarily hung in the Hermitage (Amsterdam).  We did not make a quick diversion to St. Petersburg!

**During my seven months in Kyrgyzstan with ABA-CEELI, we coorganized a legislative drafting seminar with another NGO.  That group brought Arnold (van den Broek) over to help us with it.  He worked in the drafting department of the city of Amsterdam.  He was in Bishkek for five days.

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This entry was posted in Food and Drink, Friends, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It’s A Small World, Part II

  1. Dave & Claire Christensen says:

    Wow! Have you two noticed that the best possible stuff happens to you when you travel? Another winner of an apartment, more memorable moments bumping into people you recognize, even an opera experience above the norm. Must be something to do with you!

    Packing, packing. The photos of what people are wearing are very helpful, plus the tips on you’re doing. Can hardly wait! Love, Claire

  2. szq811@aol.com says:

    Luv the Arnold story

    Sent from my iPhone

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