Leaving on a big train…

I’m writing this quite literally from somewhere between the Dutch and Belgian borders. Thalys trains provide free wifi in their first class section– and somehow I lucked into last-minute tickets. We’re on our way to Paris through Friday.

I’m still not sure why folks in the US are anti-rail. The tram system in Amsterdam (we might call them streetcars) was super-modern, easy and inexpensive. Instead of hopping on a plane or into a car to go to Paris, we’re on a high-speed train that was fairly inexpensive (90 euro each) and incredibly comfortable and convenient. I much prefer trains to driving!

So food favorites from the trip (so far):

Apple & bacon pancakes– light and spongy with fresh apples and slices of bacon (Canadian-style).

Frites oor lag: Fries with “war sauce”– a combination of frites sauce (mayonnaise, essentially), peanut sauce and lots of onions. I’m not sure why it’s called “war sauce”, except perhaps that the onions are certain to keep just about anyone a peaceful distance away from you.

We found a favorite place– L’Opera on Rembrandplein, where we spent a good portion of our time sipping cafe au lait and people-watching.  With Christmas being on a Friday, then the 26th of December (a day observed as the second day of Christmas), and then a Sunday, there wasn’t a whole lot open for our few days there.

We did manage to go to the Anne Frank Huis (House), which was very moving– a few years ago, Terry and I performed in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and I had taught the book (and did a lot of Holocaust studies in college and grad school) so it was interesting actually being in a place we both had read about and with which we felt intimately familiar. It was very different than Dachau, which we (and many Holocaust historians) feel is impersonal and a bit sanitized.  The house, and the purpose it serves to unite people and promote tolerance (initially under the guidance of Otto Frank), tells a story.  Hearing the bells of Westerkerk, in particular, which are a focal point of the play, is very moving and I’d highly recommend it if you are in Amsterdam.

Now, off to Paris!