On The Road: After airport closings on Sunday and Monday morning, Schipol re-opened, and my flight remained on schedule, and was indeed on time and entirely, pleasantly uneventful. I arrived Tuesday morning and found my wonderfully diligent publicist Marianna (actually, she found me) waiting. Yes, in the Netherlands, in the 21st century, friends and family still meet you at the airport.
Checked in at the lovely Hotel Ambassade, where I’ve stayed for almost every visit, and reviewed my schedule with Marianne. I had the entire morning and early afternoon off for rest. I stepped out on my little balcony, with its view of the canal and the steeply pitched red-tile roofs across the way, and watched passer-by on bicycles. I would live in Amsterdam just for the bicycles. Then went to pour my bath in my newly-renovated sparkling-clean European white bathroom. After which I slept for the precisely-prescribed ideal half hour (my iphone alarm woke me), and though desperate for more sleep, I forced myself out the door to meet Ilonka Leenheer, friend, fashion scout, and more, for a late lunch and shopping. We had a leisurely lunch on Wolvenstraat at a fashionable place fashionably without a name, drank twee koffie veerkeerd, exchanged gifties (a lovely necklace with double stars for me; Smartwool cushy ankle socks for her), then on to Marimekko and Rika. That woke me. I got back to the hotel in time for two afternoon interviews, and a photo session. For once, the photographer arrived prepared with a reflector and light, so the photos should be better than past NL photos.
Dinner that evening was at Flo, a French bistro that’s somehow related to La Coupole in Paris, where I had my very first raw oysters about, oh, a hundred years ago. So I started with a half dozen cold water oysters and cold white wine: yummmmm. For my entrée, spicy beef carpaccio. I wished I weren’t too tired to finish it. It was delectable dining in excellent company: My smart and lovely publisher, Maaike le Noble, whom I’d met in NYC in the winter—a pleasure to see her again; Marianne, my wonderful publicist; and Thijs, the non-fiction editor at Meulenhoff.
The next morning, I took the Haarlem-line train Zandvoort aan Zee (the sea), to meet Sander Knol, the managing director of Meulenhoff, for our ride through the dunes to the beach. After an espresso at the upstairs bar at the barn (fun to have a bar at the barn!), we were off: Sander, Marlise (Sander’s wife) and I, in the rear, led by Manege Ruckert, the owner and trainer at the barn. It was a lovely sunny day, with a good breeze. I was on 14-year old Shumi, a forward-going 15- or so hand horse, so shorter (and with a shorter stride) than Homère. We walked, trotted, cantered–no flying changes despite changes of bend on the narrow paths between dunes. We opened swinging gates and got the horses through them, with only one objection. Shumi was fine with it. We crossed a highway. We cantered on the beach. Shumi got a little too excited. We turned the horses into the water, paused for pics, then trotted most of the way back. And we all stayed on! 22 kilometers (about 18 miles) total. We were running late, but with Sander driving, I had just enough time for a shower, change of clothes, and onward for drinks at the publishing house with friends and guests and authors of Meulenhoff. What a fun way to close a fun day: the house is on the canal at Herengracht, and sipping cold wine in the lovely lobby, and in the sun on the front steps is glorious. Met old friends, met new friends, authors. Signed books. And Maaike spoke lovingly, inspiringly. And then dinner with my best Dutch girlfriends: Nanda van den Berg, my first NL editor, and Ilonka Leenheer, editor at Elle. We went to George, a new trendy spot, where we met other trendsters. And finally ended at Ilonka’s place, for tea and wine and some cuddling with Holly, her sweet and sometime jealous kittykat. She wanted her Mom to herself, so she scratched my hand! But I also got a high-tech band-aid for the blister (the reins) I’d developed, having forgotten to pack gloves.
Back to back interviews the next day: an hour each. As always, I talk faster at end of day. Lunched with Marianne: White asparagus with hollandaise sauce, ham and a poached egg—mmmmm. I think I could eat this every day and not get bored. Finished the day with another photo session, then a quick stop at Rika to purchase one of the five items under consideration: the renowned Rika star scarf: grey with large pink stars. Wore it the next day (good airplane wrap) and the next and the next.
Dinner at BIHP (Be Hip?) with my fine translator, Sjaak de Jong, with Bart Krammer, fiction editor and authors’ friend!, and the lovely Nina, assistant to Marianne. I had trout, spinach and, significantly, fries with mayonnaise. Apres dinner, Bart, Ilonka and I stopped for a quick g&t at De Pels, a local popular neighborhood bar, where it turns out the owner knows me or my work. ☺
In the morning, a morning chat with Sander, then to Schipol, for a long long journey home (USA), and home (Upper West Side) and home (Ancramdale, NY) to join Steve and Emma (my little family) for the weekend and some much needed R&R.