Apparently I say this every time I visit a new city: ”I am going to live here.” First it was Paris (I even downloaded an online Rosetta Stone training pack en francais), then New York (but I was 18 so I couldn’t properly sample the cocktail-dress nightlife) then it was Barcelona (it’s not that far, I thought, if I didn’t like it then I could just come back), then it was Seville (but it was too hot and I remembered that time I got foot blisters), or maybe Madrid (even though it rained that one time, but I’d pack an umbrella), but now it’s definitely Amsterdam. Once and for all.
Well, this is what I will probably be thinking for the next few days at least. I’m in my city honeymoon phase again where I daydream of living the life of a parallel person. Basically I get really fixated on the city, not just as a holiday-city-break destination, but as a place I imagine actually living. I start thinking to myself “yep, if I lived here, it would have to be that flat there, on that street, I could take this bus, and go that bakery on the corner before work. The sun was always shine on my face and I’d be high-fiving everyone on this street.” I start going into a deep day-dream about working, living, commuting – and it’s a bit strange because I know it won’t happen. Especially when I am so fickle; picking a new favourite every month. I say this because London is still secretly my favourite, but who doesn’t accidentally fall into grass-is-always-greener land? Especially when we live with other beautiful cities only a stones through away.
Amsterdam was seriously amazing. We stayed in the sweetest apartment 10 minutes from the centre using good old Air B’n'B. Our host Klaartje couldn’t meet us as she was away for the weekend, but I felt like I could piece together bits of her personality and maybe what her life might be like through her apartment. She had millions of books, a long dining table full of notepads and scribbles and a reading chair that overlooked a park. She had a massive corner sofa scattered with mismatch cushions, and a minimal chic bedroom, just a bed and an extremely tall window with blinds. Her furniture was all vintage and nothing matched. It looked gorgeous.
I loved the fact that everybody (literally everybody) cycles everywhere. Someone told me there is 800,000 inhabitants and 900,000 bikes. And I definitely believe them. They are lined up all around the city, around the canal, outside book shops, along the road. Hardly anyone seemed to lock them away too – which was a nice thing to see. I don’t have a bike in London, but it’s not because I don’t want to – I used to ride a bike everywhere when I was younger and I still love the feeling of exploring a city on two wheels. In Amsterdam, the cyclists own the city, there are dedicated cycle lanes all throughout and you have to look twice when crossing roads as you cross the cycle lane and then the car lane. The cars might stop for you to cross, the cyclists probably won’t. You can go through red lights on a bike, you can do whatever you want basically. People would pop their kids on the back, or on the front, people would sit sideways on the back chatting together whilst holding a new furniture purchase (no exaggeration), one woman put her twins on the back whilst chatting on the phone. Most people were smoking as they cycled, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d seen someone cycling whilst reading a book. The thing is, it is safer because of the cycle lanes, it’s not like in London where the minute you brave the rat-race you get squished by an angry bus driver.
I would love to go back, to continue exploring the little roads and cafes and canals.
This is a city I would struggle to get bored in.