“I want to live in ONLY places where I can wear a pink wig.” These were the heart felt, love stricken words of my friend in love with the way Amsterdam made her feel. So far I have been to two cities that made me feel magic in the air. One is San Francisco where I have lived since I left home at 18; and the other is Amsterdam. There is something about the air there that makes you want to stay and never go home.
I remember as a kid whenever Halloween would get close I felt a certain electricity in the air. A feeling that confirmed I was in exactly the right place at the right time. Indulge me if you will, think of sitting in the sunshine with just the right breeze on your face carrying the sounds of distant music. Maybe you have a sweet taste in your mouth from a sugar waffle. That is exactly how Amsterdam feels at Halloween. Jack-o-lanterns, on the stoops of adorable houses on cobblestone canal lined streets. Everything covered in citrine golden, merlot red and fire orange fallen leaves. The tring tring of bicycle bells passing on your left as you walk down a random street, you think to yourself “That guy can’t seriously be levitating.” I was a schoolgirl in love with a boy named Amsterdam.
The street art all over Amsterdam is amazing. In fact, most of my pictures from my trip are of food and art. A beautiful 4-foot black and white, wispy, intricate perched dove that looks like the street artist Roa, watches me from the building across the breezy, leafy street. I get the sense here that the art is staring back at me.
I watch out the window from this non-touristy coffee shop and see the cutest Dutch families, pushing a stroller and holding a dog leash. There is a wonderful little cheese shop around the corner. A quick tram ride takes me to an open-air market called Waterlooplein. It is HUGE and amazing! Row after row of stalls of everything you could possibly look for. Flowers, musical instruments, Filipino Lumpia, hand made Dutch chocolates, everything you would need to dress up for Halloween, jewelry, 2 euro vintage dresses (I got one for my Amy Winehouse costume), fresh cheeses, jams and breads (one of which I discovered with dried fruit and cinnamon in it and ate 3 loaves to myself before the week was up).
Since my mind has, like it does so often, drifted to food, let me just say that Amsterdam is delicious. I have yet to find a city with a great variety of high quality cuisines as San Francisco but Amsterdam has amazing food. I was traveling on the college student budget, so I know I missed out on some of the culinary masterminds that have without a doubt found them selves gravitated to the illustrious Amsterdam.
One rainy night after an adventure to the Black Light Museum, we walked along some canals and found a warm and inviting Ethiopian restaurant. The food was incredible, especially after 3 months in Florence with nothing but Italian food. (Don’t get me wrong, Italy has some of the best food in the world but non-the-less I like the option of being able to choose BBQ for lunch and Thai for dinner if I so please.) Finally I was eating some food with spice! Walk to Wok, is the perfect thing for lunch or 4th meal. It is ultimate in fresh, flavorful options of noodles!! There are locations all over the city and they are crowed late at night, but don’t hesitate to get in line, the noodles are mouth watering tasty. We came here at 4 am after our Halloween party, which took place in a building from 1662.
I woke up in the morning after Halloween and looked at my nightstand: A stack of euro, chocolate sprinkles, a fat joint (it is Amsterdam after all). What was missing from this equation? The magic juice smoothies from the local Albert Heijn super market. Every morning for a week those little beauties revitalized me for a day of exploring.
I fell in love with Van Gogh in Amsterdam. The movements of his brush strokes hold a vibration in them that I felt inside me the entire time I was in Amsterdam. Looking at the Van Gogh painting explained to me in the most simplistic non-verbal way exactly how I was feeling. I was feeling alive and vibrant like every little color I saw.
Whether a stroke of warmth in the center of a wilting blue iris, or a neon wonderland in an old hippy’s basement, I felt like Van Gogh was painting my existence in Amsterdam and putting exactly what color needed to be felt in what spot at exactly the right moment.