I came back with no expectations. After one month in London, Oslo, Copenhagen, and last but not the least, Where The Sheep Sleep, my feelings could have changed. Moreover, we went through very difficult times, the last couple of months together. I mean, I’ve always known my feelings but, regarding love, you have to leave some space for things to evolve. It is so easy to get caught up in the routine and stagnate into boredom and nagging, but when you let things breathe and give yourself the chance to look at it from a distance, love might bloom once more. I was pretty cautious when I came back. I didn’t shed a tear of emotion when I landed (but I must admit I smiled from within when I arrived in Central Station). I was home. And my home was as beautiful as I remember it. So I basically started making a mental list of reasons why it is great to be back to this long-lasting case of love in my life, called Amsterdam.
Because of friends who are family:
How can I talk about my friends without feeling that I am bragging? Oh well, I was never really spoiled as a child so I guess this is the universe compensating me. There’s not much more I can say about this subject other than my friends rock my world. Some of you might know that I had a hard time before I left for my travel, but I literally felt I was collectively embraced in love from all corners. Now that I am back, I get the same expressions of affection, enthusiasm, and support. It is startling having into account I’ve only been living here for 5,5 years and solid friendships take time to grow. This is when I put modesty aside and believe I must have done something very very right, somewhere, somehow.
Because of my bike:
OH YEAH. BACK TO BIKE LIFE. A bike here is like an extension of your body. I remember I wrote about this a long while ago. Wait a minute. Here it is. Yeah, I barely walk in this city, I cycle everywhere, and I don’t really know how to do without it. My bike’s seat is stupidly high and I love that feeling of pedaling on top of the mountain like I’m the queen of the road. It is such a feeling of freedom, and the city seems to have the perfect dimension and conditions for biking: buildings are not high, streets are cozy, you’re surrounded by canals and green, beautiful architecture is all over the place, bike lanes are the rule and temperatures are rarely high. Moreover, everybody does it. A bike is such a democratic means of transport, right? From the postman to politicians, everybody engages in this collective bike madness, which is something that definitelly binds us together.
Because of my cats:
MY KITTIES! Yes, I know, too many capital letters in just one blog post, but being back to these two fluffy capricious creatures has been one of the best feelings I’ve experienced upon my arrival. It’s so comforting to have them around, to sleep with them, or to just generally engage in cat interaction (from cuddling and assuring them they’re the most beautiful beings in the whole universe, to yelling when I occasionally catch them eating food from a pan I carelessly left open on the stove). My pumas are independent, they’ve fierce looks but, at the end of the day, all they want is love and attention. They are not obvious and you have to win their trust. Just as it should be. I feel so extremely grateful for having friends who don’t mind taking care of them when I’m away. This is the fact that allows me to actually have cats. And that brings me to my friends. Did I mention my friends, already??
Because of the parks:
Amsterdam is home to a lot of parks and park life plays an important role in the lifestyle here. It’s where you can relax and socialize and generally keep your mind sane. I have one right in front of the place where I’m living, and that feels like a luxury. Green always does when you live in a city. I like going there for walks or a run, a beer or ice-cream with a friend, or just to read my book. Sometimes I also go and work outdoors on their picnic tables because, – and here’s a major tip -, the park is covered with free wifi. Moreover, since it’s the Westerpark, you can also go catch a movie, treat yourself to a proper restaurant meal, dance the night away.
Because of the cultural offer (and the projects I am involved in):
Amsterdam is an exciting place to be if you’re into arts & culture. When people ask me what my field is and I say I studied Theater, I get enthusiastic reactions. When I say I write and perform, people want to know more about it. Back in Portugal, it was common that I’d just get a raised eyebrow in return, an uneasy moment of silence, or a typical can-you-live-from-that? sort of remark. Cultural professions and artistic skills are valued in The Netherlands, especially in this city. And then you have things like the Last-Minute Ticket Shop, you have the We Are Public pass, you have Cineville card, you have the Museum Card, you have Subbacultcha, which help make art and culture accessible to everyone. You also have a good deal in English spoken offer like the storytelling at Mezrab, the Cine-Expat at Cinecenter, the surtitled Thursdays at the Stadschouwburg just to name a few. I should make an extensive article on this, shouldn’t I?
Because of the party scene:
I hadn’t expected this because I wouldn’t describe myself as a party animal (at least not in the usual terms) but once I arrived I realized I was craving dancing the evenings away at Pacific Parc and Pllek. Oh and the concerts at Noorderlicht, Home of Art and the Tolhuistuin. And now that I think about it, the parties at OCCII and Sexyland, and Roest, and Oedipus Brewerij, and god-knows-what artistic event at Ruigoord. Not to mention all the diversity of events going on at squats or former squats like OT301 or Joe’s Garage. I am not into clubbing or big music festivals but if you do, the list is never-ending (De School or ADE immediately pop into my mind). The Netherlands could be re-named after Festivalland, for that matter.
Because of the coffee scene:
COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE! It is almost ridiculous how happy I get just for being back in my coffee places of choice. Toki, Bru, Koffie ende Koeck, White Label: I love you. I’m a sucker for specialty coffee + cake; I always go on coffee tours in every new city I visit, and there’s no other sort of place where I can focus so well when I’m doing blogging related work. I usually end up meeting like-minded people in these places and oh, I also really enjoy the small talk with the baristas.
Because of its size:
A cosmopolitan capital city condensed into the size of a province town, which allows for biking everywhere and arriving at your destination within 40 minutes max., no need of public transportation. That’s quality of life. Here you can do one thousand thirty-five different things in one day if you like and you can actually make it to that last-minute coffee or beer. All it takes you is a bike. Bonus points: I don’t have the feeling I’m just a number over here.
Because of the whole melting pot thing:
Well, Amsterdam is one of those places where everyone comes together. We have 180 nationalities present in the city, and a lot of youngsters from all over the world come here to actually live for a period (a part of them end up settling over here). So it’s not only about people who are staying for a few days and just consuming the city; it’s about folks who are ready to engage, get involved and add up to it. That’s like a fertilizer to a place, something that makes it thrive. You get to meet new people every day if you want to and therefore you also get to travel without getting out of the same place. You literally travel through people’s stories.