In the break of two appointments in the Spiegelkwartier I find myself taking a stroll along the bustling Spiegelgracht, a route favoured by a million tourists every year. I’d just gone on a private Rijksmusem tour (check it out here, if you wish) and while my mind was reproducing Jan Steen’s households and Rembrandt’s merchant couples, and going through possible words to convey the nuances of my blogger’s friend voice while she spoke of how Van Gogh got inspired by the latter, my eyes got stuck in these prints of human body parts, and colourful birds, and canal houses, displayed in wooden boxes by both sides of an open door. I step back to read the sign above me and almost get murdered by a furious cyclist. Jumping back to the sidewalk prooved equally life-threatening, with me having to squeeze between a wall of passer-by’s until I finally managed to take a breath and look up. It said, Antiquariaat Hoogkamp.
“Do you think it’s possible?” – I questioned while moulding sourdough. Tom, my new friend, was teaching me the wonders of making bread with your own two hands while slicing limes for mojitos at the same time. That morning we had make wholewheat pancakes for breakfast, now we were making bread loafs, and I had just asked if we could make wholewheat pizzas for dinner. Apparently, Tom could make just about anything. He was the kind of person who grew vegetables on his own garden, and chicken, and repaired stuff, and travelled half of the world on his own and – not unimportant – also had an excellent music taste. Curious fact, he was surnamed after de Windt. Take off that Belgian “t” and, there you have, a poetic promise of greatness.
Friends: possibly the question I get asked the most. How to make friends in Amsterdam.
I have written about this subject before but felt reticent to tackle the “how-to” because of how personal this is. Telling someone how to make friends is similar to try to teach them “the steps to fall in love” (hate this expression, but you get the idea). We connect with people differently and my ways to make friends work for me, not necessarily for everyone else. We all need to find our own ways as there are no formulas one-size-fits-all. This being said, because the question keeps on coming – and especially so when folks realize I am also befriended with Dutchies -, I’ve realised this is a thing. I have promised someone to write about this topic (Hi, F.!) , which is a strategy I’ve been employing not to procrastinate on blog posts. So here’s my take on the friendship thing. I hope it can be useful. Also, feel free to ask any question or to share your own impressions in the comments section! Yes, we zijn zover, which is to say, here we go.
It was 2013. I had just quit my hospitality job, and I didn’t have a plan. So I did what many of us do: decided to escape the burden of not knowing what to do with my life by going traveling. I booked an inter-rail ticket which would last for one month. Once it was over I’d see what I’d do. I had never travelled alone in my entire life, at least not more than five days in a row, and to places where I’d always visited friends. Right now I was travelling alone-alone, to countries where I didn’t know a single soul. I had worked enough to maintain myself for a few months without a job so there I went. I started in Italy.
My fashion taste in 2018 is, not only a game of casualty, but an ode to sustainability. None of these clothes were new when I got them. Most of what I wore in 2018 were gifts from people who came up to me and said: “I had this at home, I don’t wear it anymore. It made me think of you so here it is”.