Four souls who had never been to Amsterdam before made a plan to spend new years in this city. With our guide books as our strength and of course, our secret weapon of asking the locals themselves, we set off. We reached the city of Amsterdam by noon bundled up in warm clothes and high energies. We were truly in for a treat.
Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I have been in. The greenery, the countryside and the craziness was the perfect vacation spot for us, the crazy lot. Throughout our trip we relied on two modes of transport, our feet and the public transport. This was the best way to see the city. And the city we did see. We left our tiny room early and without an agenda on our minds, we wandered the streets. It took walking on the same streets a few times to even recognise the name of the street. The Dutch have a complicated language with words I usually mispronounced. They were warm and didn’t fail to understand despite the badly pronounced names.
But what I loved about the city was its mix of extremes. Known for its ‘coffeeshops’, the city was high inducing. On the contrary to that was the lovely cycles everywhere and the marvellous river flowing right through the city. We took a nostalgic boat ride through the city to learn many things about the people. For instance, many of the Dutch lived in wooden, long and elegant boathouses. The reason they live in them was not so nice though. Shortage of space in the city has driven them to the river.
As I play back the trip in my head, I remember all the random walks we took. We even accidentally walked into the red light district. It wasn’t like I imagined it to be but I must say, one of the women’s faces remains with me. I do have one complaint though. Amsterdam as a city is full of tourists. The food, therefore, is customed to their needs. In a small number of local restaurants, we found dutch food. However, our snooping around led us to one of the most marvellous little bakeries where we spent a good few hours bingeing. From the best cheesecake to the best lemon jam was all consumed in this establishment. If I return to Amsterdam, the first stop would be De Bakkerswinkel.
This trip out of India for me has led me to marvel at the public spaces. The entire city gathered in the centre squares, lit fireworks and drank champagne from bottles. It was goose-bump inducing. I watched the city welcome the new year with zeal. I am not much of a party person but I couldn’t help feel the energy the city radiated that night. As we walked back to our room, we were all high. Not on the alcohol or on any other drugs. But on the joy of celebrating an occasion with complete strangers, on the streets.
I don’t think I will forget that feeling for a long, long time.
This same feeling reminds me that a myriad of cities are waiting to be explored; a whole range of new feelings are waiting to be discovered. I will wander the lands till my heart is content. I doubt that moment is going to arrive anytime soon.