19 October 2016
Thinking spending a couple of days in Amsterdam alone before attending the #IFC2016 conference would be exciting, I departed London with cautious anticipation. Remaining vigilant was my priority and I gave myself plenty of time so I didn't miss my EasyJet flight at Gatwick. A two hour wait was extended to three however, when my flight was delayed, and anxiety soon gaveway to boredom. Nevermind, I could revert to people watching, something I'd been doing since arriving in San Francisco a week ago.
Customs at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam was straight forward as was catching the train to Central station. Stepping out of the station I was struck by the activity ahead of me. Cycles, simply hundreds all parked outside the railway station, cyclists and people everywhere moving at speed through the streets with no apparent order, but I'm guessing there was. Canals, heritage architecture and history at every step. But wait ... there's more. Call girls really do sit in windows scanterly clad, marijuana smoke wafting in the air and road rules not obvious as trams, cars, trucks, scooters, cyclists and pedestrians move any which way across narrow cobbled lanes and roads. And really fast!
What a stunning city. So pretty and vibrant. A culture shock - so European with the inner city made for walking and cycling. And canals creating a picture perfect foreground to tall, narrow, old brick buildings, housing all kinds of retailers, bars and cafes with tables spilling out onto the cobbled pavements. With people seeming very content to simply sit, talk and drink coffee and beer under awnings and umbrellas.
My only pity is I was experiencing this alone. Somehow, it was a bitter sweet experience in this dynamic city of people and energy. Next time ....