Ha–I was in Amsterdam so long, I’d forgotten that summer was actually supposed to be hot! This is very confusing, this sweating thing.
As if to make up for my death trek over to Amsterdam, the airline gods smiled upon me and I was bumped up to business on my way back. I’d basically despaired of this ever happening to me (well, it did happen once before, but it was on Malev, so that only meant I got a different-color seat and more orange juice), especially now that I know there’s a whole, vast world of people pulling extremely complex maneuvers to get upgraded (see FlyerTalk). My so-called “Premier” status on United gets me just about jack shit.
But yesterday, I think I got upgraded just for being nice. Poor woman at the counter had made a call for volunteers to be bumped. She got swarmed as soon as she said “600 euros in cash.” I put my name in, and then went and sat quietly and politely off to the side, and read my book. The rest of the volunteers stood in front of the desk, slowly inching forward like a group of menacing zombies and trying desperately to catch the woman’s eye. It was creepy to watch, and I wasn’t even in their sight line. Finally, she said I didn’t need to get bumped, but she was putting me in biz class because I’d waited so patiently. Really, that’s all that I wanted, and some of those volunteer zombies probably needed 600 euros more than I did (holy shit, though, that’s a lot of cash! I studiously avoided doing the exchange rate, or even calculating how I might spend it, just to avoid disappointment).
And now…back to work on the Amsterdam book. Last night I had a travel-guide research nightmare: People were telling me about some exceptionally delicious bakery, way off in some distant area. I was adding it to my list and mapping it out about the time I realized I was no longer in Amsterdam and the window for research was closed.
For the record, I did eat at some good bakeries, so I feel like I got that covered. But it was touch and go in the final hours, when I stopped at Puccini for some bonbons, allegedly the best in the city, and I discovered they were utterly disgusting. I can’t even express how gross they were.
They tasted absolutely nothing like rhubarb, raspberry or coffee, respectively. That wouldn’t be so terrible, except for the fact that they were monstrously huge, like the size of a baby’s fist. Vegetarian Duck points out a certain tendency in Dutch cuisine toward both abundance and blandness. Puccini almost fit in there, except they went beyond bland, toward abominable. I took one bite of each, and threw them away. (A guy watched me do this, standing in an alley around the corner from the store. He looked horrified.)
The upshot of all this was terror, on my part: If Puccini sucked so badly, then what if all the other chocolate shops in town that people raved about were also terrible? So, in the name of research, I did a frantic afternoon of biking around town eating chocolates, in the last hour before the shops all closed, the day before I left. I am relieved to report that both Pompadour and Unlimited Delicious are quite good, and I can actually heartily recommend Unlimited Delicious, though the rosemary-salt chocolate does not quite hang together in the way I would like.
See, I take all kinds of bullets for you, my guidebook readers. And I’ve got the proof: My legs and butt might be tastefully toned from daily bicycling, but my gut is flabbier than it’s ever been. I think I even see that bite of rhubarb bonbon poking out there on the left. Bleh.