Bikes and canals

There are two distinct things which will appear in peoples’ minds when they hear “Amsterdam”, but the first two things which appear in my mind are bikes and canals.

It is hard to eloquently articulate my most favourite experience of life in Amsterdam. It consists of a bike, two people, and dusk. Add more for the group thrill. Riding in the dead of the night by the beautiful, lit-up canals – what an utterly perfect feeling and experience. You feel much more closer to the city; this small, cobbled city which hosts thousands and thousands of tourists a day empties out giving you a gorgeous, picturesque evening ride and feel.

The third item which appears on my list is the brown café. What an appropriately Dutch institution: relaxed and open to all. For a mug of hot chocolate, a plate of bitterballen, an observation deck of people-watching, or a quiet drink or two, the brown café is perhaps the most quintessential Dutch place I have encountered. The well-worn décor with no pretension for a place of good conversation – what more could you possibly need?

I wrote this one early morning for the Universiteit van Amsterdam’s exchange newsletter. (I was on a word count — forgive the superfluous adjectives.) It depicts my love for Amsterdam.

On one of my last evenings in the Dutch capital, Frank asked me: “What are you going to miss the most?”

“Cycling.”

“Tsk. But you can cycle everywhere.”

There is something very different about cycling in Amsterdam though. If I could export one thing to the UK, it would be the Dutch attitude to cyclists and cycling.

(I mean, yes, you can cycle in the UK but I value my life.)

Lang leve de fiets!