Sunday, March 15, 2009

Café De Dokter

Yesterday John and I went to Amsterdam for the evening, as our Musicians without Borders friends invited us to their 10 Years Celebration. The event was a concert featuring six individual performances and the music of Sarajevo, Balkans, Mexicaanse, and Holland's Mitrovica Rockschool. On the map I thought the venue looked familiar, then realized I had visited this area over a year ago with Marion, the acquaintance I've mentioned from Austria.

This section of the city "you will want to see," as it hosts some of the most historic names in Holland, the Dam, the Royal Palace, AEX (stock exchange), Gothic Nieuwe Kerk, but most importantly the Begijnhof, one of the oldest and most beautiful inner courts in the city and an enclave with a very interesting religious history. And strolling through Amsterdam on a Saturday night is always a magnificent and exciting experience!

Well, we arrived at the Begijnhof a little early, so John and I thought we would find a nearby café and have a drink (John, always beer, and I, my "now renown" tonic). A half block away, in one of the city's many steegs (alleys), we drop in on Café De Dokter and instantly find this crowded, narrow but fascinating room, incredibly stuffed with two centuries of curiosities, ha! Turns out, this is the smallest café in Amsterdam, founded in 1798 by a surgeon of a nearby hospital (Binnengasthuis).

As always, John and I had a bellyful of laughs, got into a fun conversation with a couple from England, but couldn't stay long because we had to meet our friend Arjan, who had the tickets, in front of Engelse Kerk. Of course, the concert was terrific, with a finale of Joplin's "Bobbie McGee" sung by Mitrovica's very impressive and pretty lead singer. But, I guess, what topped the evening was that John, Arjan and I went back over to the Café De Dokter to finish-off what we started earlier, ha! This time we also order a "kaas bordje" (cheese plate) of Beemster's oldest.

I mention all this to give you some ideas for your visit; but also because you and I certainly must make a visit to "De Dokter."


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