I’m thoroughly enjoying Amsterdam in the spring. The old oaks lining the canals are blazingly green, the population is slowly transitioning to shorts although jeans still predominate, the calendar of events is increasing, the locals sitting out on their stoeps reading or sipping coffees and of course the ever-increasing number of tourists mobbing the streets, inadvertently straying onto the bike paths and snap, snap, snapping picturesque canal scene after scene. I’m not going to write about canals, coffee shops, museums (in this post) or idiosyncratic Dutch habits. Sorry.

Metro. Amsterdam subway trains are notably ugly, snub-nosed and somewhat shaped like those reinforced aluminum coffins (transfer cases they call them) the US Army uses to ship bodies home from Iraq. I was somewhat surprised to discover Amsterdam even had a subway given the ease of biking everywhere and also the fact you’re travelling far below the water table… The local transport organisation is building a new subway line right down the old centre. Massive budget and timeline blowouts are now occurring because the ground, simply put, is sand and sedimentary soil which is subsiding as the tunnel is dug. Old houses are being propped up along the route as they have started leaning precipitously.

Bells. My local church is the Westerkerk which chimes out a varied ensemble every couple of hours. I can relate that the hour bell is the heaviest in Amsterdam and weighs more than 7,500 kg with a hammer weighing 200 kgs! It bangs every hour till about 2am. Lovely.

Chafing. I recently uncovered the reason why all the men’s underwear being sold in the shops in Amsterdam are toight. It’s because of the chafing brought about by regular biking. Let me tell you, it’s a health and safety hazard, these loose comfortable cotton boxers. A menace to future children everywhere.

Dancing. I attended ‘We Love the 90s’ dance party celebrating all that was early 90s techno and dance. My flatmate managed to get us VIP tickets so there we stood, drinking complimentary beer above a VIP stage meticulously constructed above half the subwoofers in the hall. Kidneys’s vibrating to life’s call. SNAP was headlining, and funnily enough they are a Dutch band, hup Holland, hup!

Droog Design store combines two great Dutch passions – contemporary design and storage solutions. Truly intriguing stuff you don’t need, outrageously overpriced, but sooooo cool.

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