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I found an apartment in Amsterdam

June 2000 —

I had been staying on a houseboat for a couple of days short of six weeks. I had arranged a stay three, but the next booking had canceled — and now that stint was ending. I didn't know what I was going to do.

Amsterdam housing is extraordinarily scarce, and while it may not be outrageously expensive, you generally won't find it.

I was in Coffeeshop The Noon in downtown Amsterdam, sitting at the counter in The Noon. At that time, there was room for three people at the counter in the back of the shop.

I was smoking a bit, and drinking a cup of tea. Two guys were at the other two stools, talking in English. One was "Egg," an American who owned a bicycle tour business nearby, and the other — I would learn — was an 18-year-old German guy named Niki.

Niki was overwrought about some worry. Like I said, I was minding my own business. But Egg said to Niki something like "You shouldn't worry. Everybody's looking for a flat in Amsterdam."

I said, as a matter of interjection, "I'm looking for a flat in Amsterdam." Yeah, see — said Egg. But Niki was immediately interested that I'd said that.

Within a half-hour, we'd decided to go see the flat.

Niki was away from his country for the first time, had lost his job, and was a bit scared. He was on the phone to his Dad, and his parents were encouraging him to return to his hometown. Only problem was his contract at the housing agency, and the plight of his flatmates.

No problem. He would have sorted that one quickly, no matter what. I was fortunate to be there at that instant. We took the #1 tram out to Osdorp, about 20 minutes from the centrum, and walked the 3/4-mile to the tall, open-book-shaped apartment building. I met Robert, a late-20's German, and we agreed I'd move in.