Friday, August 10, 2012
The Red Postman
Dave and I were sitting in a sunny cafe yesterday, watching the parade of humanity, when this butterfly settled on a nearby umbrella. Only after we got home and I did some research did we learn it's either a Heliconius erato, known as a red or small postman, or a variety of Heliconius melpomene, a common postman. Here's the weird part -- it's native to Central and South America! What it's doing in Amsterdam, I have no idea. We think maybe it's an escapee from an exotic butterfly garden. (Apparently hobbyists breed them...?)
Strange encounters in lepidoptery aside, Dave and I spent yesterday exactly as we planned -- lounging in and around the Leidseplein, having lunch and watching the crowds. I went for a couple of longish walks, taking photos and scouting out the local graffiti and street art. It was great to have a day with no formal sightseeing and no agenda.
In the afternoon I stopped at a coffee shop that sold curious, oblong chocolate-covered goodies labeled "chocolate dadel." I asked the woman behind the counter what was inside.
"Dadels," she said. "I don't know the English word for them."
Fine, I said, and taking a gamble I ordered two. (I wouldn't order unknown snacks in just any Amsterdam coffee shop -- God knows what narcotic substances I'd encounter -- but this was almost like a Starbuck's, and thus risk-free.) The woman and her coworker asked me to tell them the English word for "dadel" once I figured it out. It wasn't difficult -- one bite and I knew they were dates. They were yummy, too.
This morning we're catching an early train back to London. Dave's parents return tomorrow for part two of their visit!