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.
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 boathouse. The reason they lived in them was not so nice though. Shortage of space in the city had 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 binging. 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.