Tuesday, 2 June 2009

I AMsterdam

it was not my first trip there but it sure felt like that. the moment I went out of the Schiphol airport I said to myself: I am home... I go back now some years ago when just the thought of going there was the dream. well, the dream, as some do, turned real. lucky bastard, some might say. and I could not blame them.

amsterdam is the hub of all my desires and expectations of how a city should be. I have never, up to now, seen so many people enjoy walking down a street, smiling no matter the weather outside or the belated tram... I have never, yet I trust, been to an English mother tongue land, but still I've been to The Netherlands. It is absolutely amazing how everyone manages to answer even the most ridiculous questions so politely and in such an accurate English. or French. or German, I'd add.
going out of the main station (Amsterdam Centraal) a thing strikes you. it has to. it's a bike parking. with about 100 000 places. yes, your eyes have not misled you.
it's bicycles everywhere, in fact. and water. and 400 years old houses that look brand new.
everyone (more or less) asks me, whenever they find out I've just returned from A'dam whether I had smoked weed or been to the Red Light ladies. neither, nor I disappoint them each time. well, I smoked the first time I was there, some three years ago. but that's it, I'm afraid. no ladies. who, by the way, are half, as a percentage, Romanians...
now I have to tell about the Champions League final I was lucky enough to watch in a lovely pub in the midst of the Red Light. I arrived early, just to make sure I get a seat. at my table, a German and a Jew. so three Barcelona fans in a sea of Man United ones. or a pub full of them. take your pick. either one not a funny sight for me. I have to say at the first Barca goal some 100 eyes looked at me. when Xavi hit the post, everyone turned to me, of course, with a smirk on their faces. by the time it was 2-0, everyone had given up cheering for MU. at the end they all gave a big hand to Barca for winning and some came to me to congratulate me as my team had won... imagine that here. just do that. nooo wayyyyy.
amsterdam is the place where I would most definitely like for my children to grow up. I walked the streets at three a.m. and no one even looked strangely at me.
Rembrandtsplein, the famous street artists square, full of welcoming restaurants of all sorts, the flower market, the Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum (where Rembrandt is at home), the harbour, the third most important one in Europe, the Red Light with its unique temptations, the lit bridges over an Amstel so clean and odorless, the water houses, all these make up a fantastic place to be.
and, unfortunately for me, to miss.