The apartment we rented was absolutely beautiful. It faced a little square, so across the way I could see a flower shop, a tailor, a cafe, and, much to my surprise, an Indonesian food store (side note: Dutch first went to Indonesia in the 16th century to look for spices. Indo became a Dutch colony for a while and Indonesian ingredients are widely used in Dutch cooking). The apartment belonged to a traveling, single nurse who was away in Panama when we got there. Her brother met us and he was so nice and kind and probably spoke better English than we did. Come to think of it, most Dutch people we met were more articulate in English than we are.
Anyhow, the apartment was lovely. In the middle of the third night of our stay, I start shaking Billy awake.
I shook him harder.
"What!" Pre-kids, I would have never woken Bill up like this. No way. I would be too afraid that his amygdala, the reptile part of your brain, would be the only thing working and, in his fight or flight mode after having been rudely shaken awake, would punch me. Post-kids and being used to being awoken several times a night (mostly by little toddler boy elbows, heels, and knees), he woke up in a more alert state.
"There's someone in our kitchen," I hissed at him.
We could hear some rustling noises and a few scratching noises coming from the other side of our bedroom door.
"Go and check," I demanded.
"And do what? Beat him up?"
"Gooooooo." I literally started to push him out of the bed.
He threw back the covers, tiptoed across to the door, and, as quietly as he could, opened it. The rustling stopped. He froze. He looked back at me.
The kitchen had a door, like one of those swinging kitchen doors in fancy restaurants. You know, the ones with the circular windows in them? Our kitchen had a door just like that. Billy peered in through the window. Saw nothing. He slowly pushed the door open and turned on the lights. As soon as he did, he jumped back so fast and hard that he bumped himself against the other wall.
"What?" I asked.
"A bleeping mouse just ran across my foot."
The only problem with the apartment was that we had a small visitor at night. We learned the hard way that Amsterdam is an old city that is populated with mice and rats. They're just a way of life there. We left a little bag of garbage (properly tied up, of course) by the kitchen door one night to throw out in the garbage the next morning. The little mouse was attracted to the delicious scents of the leftovers in the bag and was trying to eat his way through.
It felt kind of right, you know? Sharing the space with that rodent, our very own little Amsterdammer. I stayed up later than usual that night...thinking about that little mouse and its little mouse family living in between the walls of our unit and the one next door. I wondered what generation of Amsterdammer that mouse was: did it have a long, prestigious rodent family history in Amsterdam or was it a first generation Amsterdammer whose mouse parents emigrated from Russia (like in An American Tale).
We spent the following 10 days soaking in the calm beauty of Amsterdam: the murky, leafy (it was Autumn, after all, and the leaves were starting to fall from the trees) canals, the bridges, the bikes (holy shit! the bikes!). I read something while I was there that said that there were more bikes in Amsterdam than people living there.
Read Part 1 (Finland) HERE and Part 3 (Germany and Poland) HERE.