Monday, May 21, 2007

A travelling philosophy

We leave Amsterdam this afternoon. it is always nice to get back to your own bed, but I will miss this city and I'm already making plans of what to do on my next break here.

Don't ask me what I did here -- not because I'd be embarrassed to tell you. So no "coffeeshops", prostitutes, sex shops, porn shops or theatres, smart drug shops or sex museums (yeh, there's a lot of that crap here). Don't ask me what I did because, frankly, I did bugger all. Okay, went to the Van Gogh museum, albeit a bit hesitantly. Walked by the Anne Frank house. Think I saw the royal residence. Wanted to ride a canal boat, but couldn't be bothered to wait for it.

I know that sounds really sad -- I, the tragic hero in some Greek myth, thwarted by the gods -- but it wasn't like that at all. I didn't really care if I did any of those touristy things and, in fact, I was pleased that I hadn't done some. I think, after visiting my third European capital city (first Rome, then Paris, and now Amsterdam), I've developed some philosophy about travel and I'm in favour a much more authentic experience.

So, on our trip here we went to a market, window shopping, had lots of nice snacks and dinners (and not so nice), played pool in a little bar, went to a department store and contemplated buying some sheets, had a fantastic Ethopian meal, saw a comedy show... these are things that are, in my life anyway, unremarkable. Unremarkable, yet authentic. These are activities that many Amsterdammers would do as they went about their daily life -- I would do these things in Edinburgh. But the poignancy that these activities take on, the specialness, the schwarmerei, in a way, makes a person appreciate a city for what it really is. And what have I seen? Beautiful architecture, obnoxious tourists, mad cyclists, efficient trams, slums, bright and tatty markets, houseboats in which people make their life in the smallest of spaces, bicycles with buggies attached for children, racial divisions, clean street and dirty, Dutch fast food shops... a slice of life.

The text on my blog homepage, save my own writing, has been transformed into Dutch. Unfortunately, it won't let me voorbeeld, preview, my entry, so bericht publiceren -- I'm publishing now, mistakes and all.


Anonymous Amah said...

I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves. Sounds like a nice city.

Monday, 21 May 2007 at 22:37:00 BST  

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