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A trip back to Amsterdam


6 September, 2003 —

K_ [my then-girlfriend] and I went to Amsterdam today, from Nijmegen. We took the train, got a late start, arrived there in early afternoon. We spent a few hours in town, and that was enough for both of us.

Well, it was strange to revisit the city. I lived in Amsterdam, May to December of 2000, the first time out of my own country, the U.S.

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Wow. Amsterdam doesn't even seem like The Netherlands. I've only been in Nijmegen 3 weeks, but Amsterdam seems a bit like an anglophone tourist attraction — and chock-full of people. That much it is, for sure. It's full of people, no doubt about that.

We spent most of our time at the Waterlooplein fleamarket. I bought a pair of jeans for €15. K_ tried on long woolen jackets from every stall that had them — and there were a few. Nothing was just right, though. The first one she tried on was adorable, but its sleeves were just too short. There were others that were almost right; and others still that were too expensive. So, K_ didn't buy anything. I've never seen that before.

We started walking toward the Van Gogh museum. We stopped to rest for a while, and to eat some bread and cheese that we'd brought. We decided it was going to be too late before we got to the museum.

We walked around. K_ took some photographs of balconies. Amsterdam really is a beautiful* city to look at, with hundreds and hundreds of old buildings in the peculiar Dutch style, and everywhere canals full of boats, and houseboats.

I was trying to find this damned "Tweede Kamer," a renowned coffeeshop that I never set foot in while living in town. We finally did find it, but by that time we were both ready for the train station. The Tweede Kamer was full of people. So was Dutch Flowers, across the street; not that that made any difference. So was every coffeeshop I saw that day, come to think of it. I looked at the prices in 2de Kamer. White Widow, €7 per gram. And prices went as high as €9.50, for weed. That's pretty high.

Yeah, right, well, I'm high too. I've smoked a bit of the White Widow that I got here in Nijmegen for €5 per gram.

Anyhow, we skipped out of town. Right about then, we both felt it, and didn't discuss it, but just headed for the train station.

At the train station, I had a little bit of Drum tobacco, and no papers. I asked a woman, in Dutch, if I could have a paper. She was very unhappy that I'd spoken to her, though she did give me a cigarette paper. It really pissed me off, and I'd had about enough of Amsterdam for the day, and I got a little bit aggitated for a few minutes. I had a smoke and cursed about the city. Ah, it doesn't matter. It's a nice place to visit.

— Saturday, 6 September, 2003


[I've visited Amsterdam since the time I wrote this page, and found it to be charming. Depends on conditions, I guess.]


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* My friend Chris and I agreed, on a later trip (Feb. '04,) that Amsterdam is the most beautiful city we've seen. Chris has traveled fairly well in Europe and Asia. Me, well, I've seen Amsterdam, Seville (where I met Chris,) Dublin, and cities in the west of the U.S.

Seville has beautiful elements, as does San Francisco. But Amsterdam — I've realized more fully on each of the two times I've returned since living there — is almost entirely beautiful. The repeating effect of so many beautiful houses, canals, boats and houseboats is really affective, when you're in the mood for it.

It's strange how you wouldn't think of that if you lived there. At least, I didn't. It doesn't feel beautiful sometimes — though I am learning to enjoy it more.

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Steve Edwards