Wednesday, 26 August 2009


compulsory canal shot

Just back from a quick jaunt to Amsterdam. Once I’d got used to the thimble sized coffee cups and slipped back into cycle dodging mode, I fell in love with the city. Not just how pretty the central parts of the city are, or how outstandingly delicious the cakes are, but the whole atmosphere of the place: it seemed permeated by something more relaxed, less flashy, more – dare I say it? – genuine than the England’s Sarf East. I’m already planning my next trip back to try and see how much of this is rose tint and how much is ‘real’.

I could tell you what all the things on this boat symbolise...if I reached for wikipedia. oops.
I’d mainly been put off going to Amsterdam by the fact that it is a magnet for groups of British lads who want to get mashed up and tell their mates they’ve shagged a whore. Although we had a hysterical/enraging encounter with an aforesaid group on the train from the airport, who were pretending to be all hard and talking like they came from a cartoon ghetto, not aware that yes, they were getting female attention but not quite in the way they imagined, thankfully for my future plans that would be somewhat thwarted by a murder conviction, that that was our only such encounter. Well, until it became time to get the plane home, and one of the same group was clearly trying to psych himself up to still believing that it was unbelievably awesomely hardcore that he’d got a X X X tat whilst shitfaced.

Leffe - looks nicer than it tasted.
Deciding to avoid areas thick with bars sporting British pubs and offering breakfasts with a pint and psychedelically decorated coffeeshops, we percolated around the streets, discovering two of my favourite aspects of Amsterdam: the lack of crowds and gezellig.

Clogs AND tulips - who could resist?
I really hadn’t expected Amsterdam to have a spacious feeling to it, and I suspect that this impression is aided by having lived in Shijiazhuang, where your personal space could be considerably less than the volume of your body, but it did.

where's the rest of my coffee?
Gezellig is apparently famous for being a slightly untranslatable word meaning roughly cozy or comfortable or the idea of togetherness: for us it meant time to have long, winding conversations over properly delicious coffee, cake or beer in snug and interestingly decorated cafes, many of which seemed to have an inhouse cat or two, without being subjected to antisocial imbeciles, terrible, overloud music, or the atmosphere that you are being done a huge favour by being allowed to patronise the establishment.

any country that has ham and cheese toasties for breakfast is good with me!


  1. Every city has its charm and some are more precious than others! My favourite is Paris, but Copenhagen and Stockholm are not far behind either!

  2. Amsterdam rocks. I love the shops (usually despise shopping), the architecture and the diversity. Some tasty markets anaw.

  3. Is that your reflection taking a photo in that last shot or just someone holding up something black by their face?! Great post either way! Sounds like you loved it over there. I went once and stayed with friends for a weekend but have been meaning to return and explore...

  4. The only European city I've been to is Madrid but Amsterdam looks interesting. So many places in the world to see.....

  5. Great post and photos, Jayne.

    Oooo, have to disagree about the Leffe though, that's one of my most favourite bevvies. Love it!

  6. SP - yes that is me, although it'd would've been hilarious if it had been someone randomly holding something black to their face.
    ms toastburner - how can you? And I mean that literally, I felt like a needed a spoon to consume it. *shudder*

  7. Have only ever been to Amsterdam airport, and my impression of that was the 3 'C's' - cigarettes, cigars and clogs. The 'gezellig' sounds good tho - perhaps I'll brave an Easyjet stag party flight one day now that I've been tempted by your mini travelogue.