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!


  1. That butterfly's markings are fantastic -- I know it's a cliche, but sometimes nature is outrageous.

  2. Love the butterfly! But I do NOT like dates - ptooey! I'm glad it was a pleasant surprise for you :)

    BTW - I followed your old Shadows blog a while back & I saw this morning on my google reader that a hacker has posted 25 posts to it (it happened to another blog I follow that hasn't had any posts in a long time - same exact 25 posts!).

  3. the butterfly looks similar to a red admiral over here. Amsterdam. That's what I find alluring about Europe, you can take a day trip to another country. I can travel 4,000 miles and still be in the same country with the same culture. We used to have regional differences but not anymore, not really. Now it's all homogenized.

  4. Bug, I'm confused about the posts to my "old blog." My blog has had the same URL since I launched it, and I don't see any hacked posts. Which URL did you follow?

  5. Love the red postman! It does make you wonder why he's so far away from home country. He's beautiful.
    Ah, the Leidseplein ... there used to be a great restaurant there on one corner but I understand that it's gone now. The house was so old that the floors were all titled upstairs!

  6. Here's the link:

    I noticed that the posts are spaced out - there's one on July 24 that is called: The business that comes out on top is the one that uses every means available for creating brand awareness.

    Then the next one is from June...

  7. How cool that you can just hop over to Amsterdam for a visit. I too love to gamble on a new food experience. So glad your dadels turned out to be so delicious!

  8. Second time I have come back to this feed the fish.

  9. oops, sorry. Tilted, not titled floors! ;)

  10. Linda Sue: I'm so glad you take such good care of my fish!

    Lynne: Don't worry, I knew what you meant. :) I wish I'd known which corner you mean -- I'd have taken a photo to show you what it looks like now!

    Barbara: Glad to see you back! :)

    Bug: How weird! But that seems to be a whole different blog. That was never my URL, and the person posting to it doesn't use any of my entries and doesn't claim to be me. It IS weird that he/she chose a blog name so close to my URL. Perhaps I should be flattered?!

    Ellen: Yes, Europe's compact size is pretty great -- though sitting on that train, it didn't FEEL compact.

    Elizabeth: It was very eye-catching and unusual, which is why I wanted to identify it. Another woman also took photos with her iPhone before it flew away. My guess is it flies around Amsterdam attracting photographers!