As our lives get busier unfortunately our leisure time gets shorter. What used to be a weeklong vacation all of a sudden becomes a long weekend. Have you been to Chicago so many times that you are permanently wind burned? Gone to Toronto so often that the sight of a maple leaf brings a tear to your eye? Feel like the only Eiffel Tower you will ever see is in the Nevada desert? World travelers do not despair! Thanks to the increasing number of nonstop international flights being offered from Detroit, the long weekend in Europe is now a reality.
Joy and I recently took advantage of a quick getaway to reacquaint ourselves with the exciting city of Amsterdam. It has been several years since our last visit to the Dutch capital, and many changes have taken place.
One major improvement is the revamped Museumplein, consisting of the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum. The area that used to be an ugly mess of traffic has been transformed into a spacious city park. The Van Gogh Museum has been enlarged and undergone an impressive refurbishment. The main building permanently houses over seven hundred of the artists paintings and drawings, while the new Japanese-designed wing is devoted to temporary exhibitions.
Our home away from home in Amsterdam was the Hotel Pulitzer. This centrally located five-star hotel offers a truly upscale, traditional Dutch experience. The Pulitzer occupies an entire block of twenty-four canal houses on the Prinsengracht in the Jordaan, Amsterdam’s most charming neighborhood. Watching life go by on the canal from our room became a favorite pastime. Up the street from the hotel, just past Westerkerk, is the Anne Frank House.
Amsterdam is the perfect walking city – very compact and always interesting. Of all the things to enjoy, food has to be a the the top of the list. The world-famous Indonesian Rijsttafel is the best this side of Bali. Traditional Dutch pancakes with a shot of Grand Marnier syrup is breakfast in heaven. The Sunday jazz brunch at the Art Deco Café Americain (Mata Hari had her wedding reception here) is not to be missed.
But probably one of the most unique dining experiences in the world takes place at the Supper Club. This restaurant has become one of the toughest tickets in all of Europe because of its ingenious approach to suppertime; a five-course gourmet meal served to you in bed. This place is quirky even by Amsterdam standards. On one infamous occasion, the chef served lamb as live sheep meandered through the restaurant. Another night, lobster was delivered to patrons in dog bowls. After a little apprehension, we decided we just had to go!
We asked the concierge at the hotel to assist us in securing a reservation. He said that it would be difficult but he would do his best. That afternoon there was a note in our room confirming our reservation. It stated that we were invited to the lounge for cocktails at 7:00 p.m., dinner would be served at 8:00 p.m., and that we were to be dressed entirely in white. I thought, we’re gonna have a problem here. The only things that we had brought that were white were our unmentionables and Joy’s vast collection of cotton balls. Feeling totally untrendy, we took to the streets in search of anything that would comply with the dress code. Needless to say, finding white clothing in the middle of November is like finding a nun in the middle of the Red Light District. I came up with a rather large turtleneck that made me look like I had been in a rollover accident, and Joy was in a funky grayish almost-white ensemble.
The Supper Club is located in a narrow alley with no windows or visible evidence that it exists. We finally found the right door and entered a bar scene straight out of Austin Powers – stark white curvy couches and walls that were draped with shower curtains. Pulsating multi-colored lights illuminating black and white photos of some very odd-looking people. Uh, Joy, I think the bartender rimmed our champagne glasses with ecstasy or something. After some choice people watching we were summoned to dinner.
The hostess, Amsterdam’s answer to Ru Paul, threw open the doors to the dining room… I mean bedroom —— God, am I confused! Along both sides of the restaurant, there were two tiers of white beds, each tier about one hundred feet long. Large silver trays were placed on mattresses that served as tables. A drive-in sized video screen above the huge open kitchen flashed bizarre images as the DJ played Burt Bachrach tunes. Dinner was served by a seven foot tall Shaquille O’Neal look-a-like in an orange fur coat and an emaciated little waif in a majorette costume apparently working her way through Methadone University.
We gazed upon this circus-like production from a cozy little corner Posturpedic. Between courses, Joy took advantage of a full body massage by the official Supper Club masseuse. I had not seen my wife face down with a man on her back in the middle of dinner since the Jagermeister incident of ’94. The food, like the atmosphere, was out of this world. The entire experience lasted six hours and it was the highlight of our trip. As we were leaving, Ru Paul said in ‘her’ finest baritone voice, “You two added a nice energy to our club tonight.” Thanks… I think. Shagadelic baby!