Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Teensy Tiny B & B in Amsterdam

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.


  1. Well you know my opinion of B & Bs. Man this one would really be cozy.

  2. Hi Sextant! I've been cruising your blog and left a comment on your "First Day of Retirement" - a year ago? Do you get a message about comments on older posts? Anyway, what is your opinion of B & Bs.

    1. Fiftyodd, I commented about B&Bs in a lengthy and rambling comment on your post about odd English town names, here:

      My wife and I prefer the anonymity of a chain hotel. Its the breakfast / bed sheet thing. Here is a kindly person serving you breakfast and chatting pleasantly away about the lovely morning and yet a mere 18 hours ago was most likely changing the post romp bed sheets in your room. I can't imagine where one is supposed to look while being served eggs and toast and a wonderful cup of coffee, while you know that they know that you know that they know that within an hour they will be changing yet another set of wonderfully stained sheets. Its all a little too personal for me. Then there is the thin walls, the squeeky bed springs, the not quite stifled moans, the other patrons sitting at the table the following morning looking at you with that knowing look, elbowing one another, slight giggle. Then there is always some sort of historical significance about the bed in your room. "Earl Grey slept in this very bed the night before he discovered adding bergamot to tea in 1754 and became the Royal tea merchant by Appointment by His Majesty. I find such historical significance coupled with the squeaky springs and thin walls to lead to a severe case of performance anxiety. Being unwilling to lounge about in a bath tubs or dancing endlessly, I find the pharmaceutical solutions to these problems to be undesirable...I would probably see blue or have to make that visit to an emergency room beyond the allotted 4.5 hours. What exactly do they do in those cases? Whap!

      As such the glorious anonymity of a Days Inn with concrete block walls, cement floors, recently acquired mattresses that don't squeak and were not slept in by some historical hero, the unknown, unseen guests in the adjacent rooms, and a house cleaning staff that does not serve you breakfast to be exhilarating. My wife and I are simple people with simple basic entertainments. We do not need 300 year old quilts and doilies. Clean sheets, hot water, good towels and thick walls are all we need. No one has ever snickered at us while having an Egg McMuffin at McDonalds.

    2. Please forgive me - memory like gnat these days. I do remember your comments about place names though. Once again - a definitive opinion on yet another subject.