|Me - in front of our B & B - only two windows wide|
|Waiting for breakfast - 8.30 am.|
When you live in a broad, sprawling country like South Africa where we have loads of space to build and where homes are typically one-storey, it's quite an eye-opener to got to Amsterdam and find that your on-line booked B & B is only three yards wide and boasts only three double rooms, one on top of the other. We later found out that when the city was built, home-owners were taxed according to how much 'canal frontage' they occupied. Ours was run by two charming, if slightly disorganized brothers, who lived on the top two floors. The first morning, we arrived downstairs at 8.30 to find the breakfast room deserted with only the pristine white table cloths on the tables. Thinking that we were perhaps too late to eat, we sat down to plan our day and suddenly heard feet thundering down the narrow stairs and one of our hosts arrived, dishevelled and embarrassed (still buttoning his shirt!), to apologise profusely and say that they had thought breakfast to be about 9.00. He then proceeded to run up and downstairs to the basement kitchen, bringing all the necessaries for our continental breakfast, though not necessarily in the right order. Thus we had coffee, then yoghurt, then ham, salami and other cold meats and bread, followed by cereal (he forgot the milk, which meant another trip downstairs). While chatting, he then remembered he had croissants in the oven for us and hared off to get them. Sadly, they were so burnt we had to pass on those. Still, he was so charming, we couldn't be cross: we hadn't after all clarified the times for breakfast the night before. Later, while walking the streets, we discovered that shops and markets don't open 'til 10.30 - 11.00 am. and that Amsterdammers rise late and go to bed late - at least in summer. That we learnt to our cost by foolishly leaving our window open overnight, so that we were kept awake by revellers well into the small hours.