Saturday, 26 March 2016

Amsterdam {Day 1}

Malcolm and I have been wanting to go to Amsterdam for a while. I'm not really sure why or how the city came to be on our list, especially since I really only know it from my French setwork book (Camus' la Chute) and the first thing about it that comes to mind is his description of it...

Have you noticed that Amsterdam's concentric canals resemble the circles of hell? The middle-class hell, of course, peopled with bad dreams. When one comes from the outside, as one gradually goes through those circles, life — and hence its crimes — becomes denser, darker. Here, we are in the last circle.

I think it was Malcolm's longing for harbours and water and my desire for fields of flowers that put the city on our list. Nevertheless, we wanted to go last year but we could find no affordable accommodation on our preferred dates because we left it too late. This year, we were prepared and booked ahead so that the 22nd we could hop on a train and make our way to the city of canals, diamonds, cyclists, freedom, and sin (according to Google's suggested searches).

It was while waiting in Giessen for our connection to Koblenz that we heard about the bombs in Brussels. It shook me up considerably. None of our connections were affected, but we saw "cancelled" on so many boards for trains Paris- or Brussels-bound, or trains within Germany cancelled with the vague reason of "police investigations". Thinking back to our time in Brussels last year, where we stayed in the area of the metro station that was affected, made my mind flood with what-if-scenarios.

Fortunately, we arrived safely in Amsterdam in the late afternoon, and immediately bought a map to find our hotel. Because we were carrying luggage, we took a side street to avoid the bustle of crowds and set off on our way. We admired the pretty canals and the quaint houses lining the street, we marveled at how there are any pedestrians left with the aggressiveness of cyclists, we dreamed of living on a houseboat, and I startled as I looked to my left and saw a thoroughly made up woman in her underwear sitting behind a window with her name brightly on display.

After a long walk, we arrived at our hotel, checked in, and took a moment to relax after a long and tense journey. Thereafter we were eager to get out into the city with no plan other than to find food for dinner.

We wandered the streets and canals, and it really was beautiful. The weather had been dull all day (and was forecast to remain so for the rest of our stay), but as the sun set and the canal lit up, the sight was breathtaking. We landed up at what I think is Rembrandt square, where the dinner options were limitless but our budget was not. 

After settling for some pizza slices, it was back to our feet to see more of the city. The lights reflecting on the canals were beautiful and mesmerising and romantic. The crisp air kept us awake and we could relax a little more since the afternoon bicycle-frenzy had calmed down. My hand was tucked snugly in Malcolm's pocket, clutched by his hand, as we wandered along, crossing bridges and canals and soaking up the sights. 

We wandered aimlessly and without really considering where we went, which, in hindsight, I consider to be a careless decision since it wasn't long before the amount of sex-shops increased and we were in the red-light district. It was gutting to walk through, and I wanted to get out because I could feel the judgement swelling up in my heart. It is the city of sin, especially for those of us who try to usurp God's position as judge. 

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