Clearing the head after Cafe Gollem

After a long breakfast in the The Estherea we walked along the Keizersgracht to FOAM to walk round its Diane Arbus exhibition. On the way we passed a small shop on Oude Spiegel Straat selling large tin Dutch lanterns. Quite a lot of time was spent working out if they were not quite big enough to fit in my hand luggage. We came to the conclusion that I would not be allowed through but I know what I want for Christmas next year.

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The Diane Arbus was the perfect way to help clear the head after the one too many Corsendonks in a bar I found called Cafe Gollem . Cafe Gollem was one of those perfect bars that you always wish existed round the corner. It was only two minutes from the hotel and I came across it late in the afternoon when I went out for a wander whilst the rest of the party was sleeping or getting ready for the evening.

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The room was squashed in around a small bar, half a dozen stools, a shelf of sorts around the back wall and a tiny staircase leading to an upper floor with a few tables. It was dark and smelt of old wood and beer. There were four or five blackboards on the walls listing the 200 hundred or so beers there was available. There were about ten beers on tap and as Roger and Anne-Marie had just called from Antwerp I had a glass of De Koninck listening to Joy Division and then a glass of Gollem Blonde before joining the rest of the party back at the hotel for the evening out in Amsterdam.

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The evening then finished at Cafe Gollem all sat upstairs squashed up to one of the tables of plain wood looking like drowned rats having walked through the thick sheets of rain that had settled over Holland that day. I will have to make an effort to go back there.

The black and white clarity of the Diane Arbus’ photographs and the clear eyed focus she brought to the lives of the misfits, freaks and nudists all helped to subdue the fug. I found myself taking my glasses off to peer up close to the pictures to try and see through the line that she had created between reality and the quicksilver of light she had caught.

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