Well, I and the wife traveled to Limoges in France to Amsterdam over the last two weeks. In France, I had the misfortune of being almost completely without the ability to smell or taste anything thanks to a lingering cold which also incapacitated me on the final Friday of the trip. Our French hosts cooked us a wonderful (looking) local meal complete with regional wines, and every mouthful tasted exactly the same. According to Wendy, this stood me in good stead for Amsterdam, however, since I wasn’t as bothered by all the smoldering plant material hovering in the air.
Amsterdam is a lovely city. It is very accessible and its scale lends itself to walking. It’s easy to find somewhere pleasant to drink coffee or eat from a huge variety of restaurants. It is slightly unhelpful, however, that nearly every place at which you can eat or drink is called a ‘cafe’. This includes bars, coffee houses, sandwich shops, pubs… literally everything that doesn’t sell cannabis is a cafe. Many ‘cafes’ also sell an astonishing selection of lagers, which I could only imagine drinking on the continent.
The streets meander pleasantly, and it’s not too well-planned; so it’s possible to stumble across a brilliant cafe (of whatever description) nearly anywhere. The streets seem to be used almost like common land, however, by the walkers, cyclists and motorists in town. Cars seem to give way most of the time, and trams could appear just about everywhere, from any direction. Bicycles literally litter every available upright in Amsterdam, and if you don’t move sharpish at the sound of a bell you’re likely to adorn a lamppost or bollard yourself. I spent much of my time waiting for the imagined zzhhrip sound of bicycle-tyre on raincoat which I’m pretty certain would almost immediately proceed a rear-end collision.
Nevertheless, I’m glad to be back in Britain. Something about seeing the hills and green of near-home yesterday was incredibly comforting.