My boyfriend and I went on a trip to Amsterdam today. It’s only 260 km from Burscheid, so it took us about 2 1/2 hours each way. We hadn’t planned the excursion very well – we only knew we wanted to visit “Madame Tussaud’s” and eat Frikandel speciaal. We noted down a few sights we had read about on the internet, then we set out.
We drove right into the city by car where I strayed in the narrow one-way streets along the canals and experienced that it was somehow anarchistic on Amsterdam’s roads. Residents tailgated and hooted behind me, and pedestrians as well as countless cyclists crossed the street in front of me without even looking around – not seeming to have any concerns about their own welfare. The climax was a junction where not only two, but three streets crossed. This was completed by a tram line, and on top of it all the street lacked any markings. When I finally noticed that, coming from my direction, there weren’t even traffic lights, I was fully perplexed. Under wild tooting I plucked up my courage and actually managed to reach the other side safely. I felt a bit like in Frogger.
After all, we succeeded in parking quite centrally. It sure was a little expensive, but I had expected that – it’s not much different in the center of any large city. We strolled past the Heineken brewery to the Albert-Cuyp-Market which spreads along the Albert-Cuyp-Street with about 300 stands from Mondays to Saturdays. Later we discovered even more small markets, walked over several canals, saw the kings palace, the neighbourhood “Jordaan” where there’s a lot of beautiful buildings, a few lightly clad ladies in the windows of the red light district, the amazingly pretty central station and, of course, “Madame Tussaud’s”. The entrance fee – 20 € – is quite over-the-top to my mind. Sure, the figures look really great and lifelike, but on the other hand it’s not a giant sensation to stroll through five or six puppet-filled rooms. There is no guided tour either, nor any other service that would justify the price. I didn’t even take photos because you can have a look at every single figure in the list of figures on the “Madame Tussaud’s” website anyway. What’s the use of yet another photo if it doesn’t show anything new?
I had already been to Amsterdam on a warm, sunny day of March a few years ago. In my memory, the air smelled like summer, the water in the canals glistened like liquid silver, and on the streets, which were filled with people of all nations, there was a spry but relaxed bustle. When I remembered the city I always saw the cover image of Maarten ’t Hart’s “The fury of the whole world” in my mind’s eye, which reflected so perfectly well the Amsterdam idyll in my head.
(Unfortunately, I know neither the painter of the picture nor its name. If anybody can help me with this information, he’s very welcome.)
As one may guess, what I am driving at is that my impression was a totally different one this time. I don’t know if it was just down to the grey, cold weather – from time to time I was really freezing to the core – or to the people, who, just like in other large cities, seemed hectic, stressed, anonymous and self-absorbed. The streets were forlorn, the water cold, the boats covered up. Supposedly soothing billows of hashish smoke swirled out of every second shop, and above it all hung a cold perishing sun. We waived our Frikandels in the end due to a lack of supply and increasing cold, and rather drove home instead. It sure was a nice, interesting day, but somehow I felt like you do when you come out of the movies, and the film that you watched was only mediocre.