A day out in Amsterdam. Please keep in mind that I am in fact Dutch. Don't expect any wild stories about hookers and coffee shops.
Amsterdam, even to us Dutchies who don't actually live there, is like a foreign country. Being a small town girl, which in terms of small would mean that I am originally from a very tiny village that would be the size of one tiny freckle on a giant's body, I felt like a mosquito in a jungle.
I sat in the backseat of our monstrous Volvo XC90, lounging rather at ease with my head against the pillow that my mom suggested I should bring. The ride to Amsterdam is, noting that the Netherlands is a rather small country, quite a drive. Something around an hour and a half. I had brought the necessary accessories (read. Pillow, Ipod, Good music, Earplugs) and dozed for a bit in the car.
As we're driving into Amsterdam (dad reckons he knows his way around), I can't help but notice how very different Amsterdam is from any other big city in this country. In any sense.
The buildings, all very classically aligned but still kind of crammed together as if to use every single inch of free space there is. Almost all of them have these little steps up to the front door. Occasionally, you see this very modern house built in between the old, slightly decaying houses, innovating, yet designed so that it fits in the overall picture perfectly well.
The streets, though they are different depending on where in Amsterdam you go. The broad, confusing streets, where you have three lines of cars just perched beside each other, waiting for the traffic light to switch to green. Across these roads are the tram rails in very confusing directions that made me feel particularly paranoid. Also, you never know which way to go. There are signs everywhere, but so many signs and so many roads, that you can't really tell which sign goes with which road.
And then there are the unevenly laid bricks that you can find when you are walking through the channel area, with cute little bridges with railings to which a million of bicycles have been chained. These bricks have caused me great distress, as they are quite bumpy and, going over them while in a wheelchair gives you this highly annoying tickle in your ears.
Another strange thing in Amsterdam is the traffic's regard for traffic rules. The red light of a traffic light normally means stop. Well, in Amsterdam it seems to mean go. You see so many cars go through a red light. My dad seems to have adopted that disregard for the rules. I clung nervously to my seat as we drove through red lights.
Then there is the greatest variety of people I have ever seen in my life. First, the inhabitants of Amsterdam. Walking around, you find upper class businessmen right next to weed-addicted hippies. Seriously, a very bizarre sight. Lots of immigrants, in all colors, both skin and clothing. And it all meshes together perfectly to form a vibrant colorful city.
Not to exclude from this picture are the tourists, and particularly the Japanese. When you go the the Dam in Amsterdam, the most common phrase you hear is 'You take pictule (read. picture) please?' and you see hordes of people admiring and again wanting to take pictures with the living statues. These, I admit, are a sight to see. Apart from that, the pigeons are fairly popular.
You might begin to wonder what I was actually doing in Amsterdam. Well, there's the thing. We were just having a nice family day out. My dad wanted to see the new Public Library, which, in case you are going to Amsterdam, you should put on your 'things to see'-list, because it's not just about the books. The building is absolutely breathtaking. Each floor - there are seven in total - has it's own themes, and is designed brilliantly to match those themes. Also, there is plenty of space to lounge, in very comfortable chairs and it so big that you could sit completely alone if you wanted to. In fact, if I lived in Amsterdam, I would want to go on a date there, definitely. There is something very romantic about the atmosphere there.
Besides seeing the library we went to see my cousin and his girlfriend in there new house. It isn't exactly that new anymore, but we had never been before. Bad family. Tsk. We talked about new career movements, like working at McDonald's and try working our way up from there, starting with becoming employee of the month. Also an option is starting a pancake restaurant. We based this on the following: Our Volvo XC90 is secondhand and previously belonged to the owner of a pancake restaurant in our village. There you have it, smart career move. I might elaborate on career movement in a future post. No promises.
Another subject that came was old TV-presenters (think back in the 40s) and how they remind my dad of those horrible times where everyone was poor. He went seriously rigid when my cousin (great voice actor), imitated one. I just found it amazingly amusing.
Not soon after that we went on our way back home with our newly purchased junk (music for dad and some books for me, bought at the only Waterstones in the Netherlands). Then we ate dinner at an indecently late hour at McDonald's. Sheer coincidence. Was a fun day out. On Monday, by the by. Oh and for the record, mom was there too.