An Open Letter to Amsterdam
I’m sorry Guillaume doesn’t like you. He insists you are elitist, snooty, and tall. I agree with him on the last point. You are, unnervingly, tall. I wonder what it’s like to experience the world from such heights.
You also serve dry toast with chocolate sprinkles for breakfast — which, I think, 7-year old me would be over the moon about, but 29-year-old me gets a bit deflated eating bread and refined sugar day after day. Particularly so close to my whole Belgian waffle overdose debacle.
I won’t blame you, Amsterdam for my flu. I will blame you for how crazy it is to be a pedestrian in your city. Bikes in the middle of the road, bikes on the sidewalks, people on bikes glaring at you as they cut you off. Uhm, is walking on the sidewalk taboo here?
It was overwhelming. Especially given the condition I was in, dizzy and off-balance with fever, clutching a Dirk’s grocery bag filled with two gallons of orange juice like a lifeline. I will say, I was almost run-over an awful lot for someone who spent almost the entirety of their trip indoors.
What’s worse, it was freezing cold. And the one thing my gloved hands wanted to clutch on their few-and-far between trips outside was a hot cup of coffee. But every café I wandered into didn’t sell the signature drink I thought was implied in the name. Coffee? No. Space cakes? Yes. A hard pass for me. There was no way I was adding marijuana to the nausea, chills, congestion mix.
Admittedly, it was poor planning on my part to book a hotel in the red-light district. Who was that unfortunate soul sandwiched between the condomerie and the mystery-window-tinted night club? Me. Curled in a half-moon, surviving on bananen [bananas] and sinaasappelsap [orange juice] with paracetamol chasers.
Sprinkle in some melodramatic “I’m really dying” thoughts and arrhythmic EDM bass and it’s practically like being there.
Now, I may have been hallucinating, but I’m 99% sure there was a Franciscan monk habit and a glass-encased human skull in my hotel closet. What was that doing there, Amsterdam? Is this a normal hotel accessory? Is that even a normal red-light hotel accessory? My mind was immediately held hostage by thoughts of some weird religio-historical flagellant role play… Mental images that needed twelve hours of fitful sleep to unsee.
I really wanted to love you, Amsterdam. It wasn’t a great first-impression. Although I should take ownership for my part. In-between the early morning self-pity sessions and the evenings spent head in a toilet to the soundtrack of Netflix’s “Formula One: Drive to Succeed,” I wasn’t at my best either. No chance to visit your amazing museums, floating markets, or sample the lauded Indonesian cuisine import.
If, at one point in the future, we’re both unattached I’d love a do-over. Maybe in the springtime? We can go and see the tulip gardens and ring in National Windmill Day with a trip to Zaanse Schans. I may even try your rainbow-sprinkle and marshmallow toast. Just don’t make me wear clogs.
Until next time,