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Giving thanks!

November 24, 2016

It’s been a whirlwind two days ending and it’s been great!

I left early yesterday onto train to Antwerp, a city I never expected to visit.  Gene came in from Paris and we met at the most beautiful train station I’ve ever seen. We quickly checked into the hotel, and headed out for a quick walkabout, heading first to the main sq with City Hall on one side and a large cathedral on the other.  In the center of a square was a wacky statue that we later learned depicted the giant who lived in the river near the city and would cut off the hands of his enemies.  A young peasant finally conquered the giant and threw his hand in the river.  Hands are everywhere.  A large stone hand was a popular photo stop (I did a selfie) and chocolate hands were for sale in every cafe.

We met a director of DeSingel, a preforming arts venue in the city and he took us for a long lunch of moules frites and beer.  It was perfect.  I left he and Gene to work and walked the city.  I made my way to the home of painter Peter Paul Rubens (to whom I owe a great debt).  He lived well with a beautful garden courtyard in a big house which I couldn’t see since I’d arrived too late in the day. The city is small and easy to walk.  It is a mix of old and a bit cold cobblestone charm and hip boutiques.  They are very proud of being the home of designer Dries Van Noten.

I rejoined Gene at DeSingel for dinner with a few members of the staff at the hall’s beautiful restaurant.  It was laughter filled and delicious.  Then we saw a staggeringly great dance performance.  When the show was over, Pierre offered us a tour of the facility.   First stop was a performance space next to the theater we were in, where the pianist Richard Goode was in concert.  The stage manager brought us to Mr. Goode’s dressing room, where he and his wife welcomed us with open arms and we talked of mutual friends and the music world.

Our building tour continued and thought the space was concrete and a bit cold, the multiple venues and discipline gave it great energy.  Students were everywhere and there was graffiti and art on display.  In a courtyard, little garden plots bloomed.  These were each manned by a member of the communty who rented the space for 20 euro a year.  (Hey Lincoln Center…do this!).

A beer and chocolate mousse later, we headed back to the hotel with plans for an early train back home.  At 10:30, when I finally rolled out of bed, we gulped down coffee and ran to the station.  In Amsterdam at 2, we headed out for another day of walking the city.  First stop was Rembrandt’s home in the Jewish District.  Turns our Rembrandt was a bit of dick.  The tour talked about his mistresses and disinterest in paying his debts.  But there were wonderful displays and art and the studio where he worked had light pouring in.  It was easy to imaging him creating his masterpieces.

From there we wandered through stores (I got a necklace and some shoes at Camper for half what I’d pay in the US).

We made our way to an Indonesian restaurant for reistafel – a banquet of flavors.  We had dozens of dishes and I can’t think of a better way to spend thanksgiving if I couldn’t be with my family.





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