the window looking into Van Kerkwijk (more about this meal to come…)
myself and Nijntje, the Dutch bunny that has stolen my heart…and money
I know I owe you guys the final part on the Green Stuff series, but man oh man am I distracted!
I arrived here on Tuesday morning and I am just completely enamoured by this city. I have done my fair share of travelling but there is just, something, about this place that feels so nice and so right. I believe this feeling is stemming primarily by my constant preoccupation with aesthetics and design and maybe fortified by the bias that comes from being led around by a wonderful host. I am by no means a designer, and even though I have a college degree in art I hardly take myself seriously as one. I don’t want to completely discredit myself though, because you know what? I think I have a pretty good taste. Usually.
This post has HIGH potential for sounding trite or cliché, so I am just warning you now. But how can that be avoided when talking about traveling to new places? Isn’t the whole point to discover something new about the world, and ultimately, yourself? (See? It’s already happening.) Here, it started with crushing on something considered pretty commonplace- which is transportation. What we New Yorkers call public transportation is a sad, sorry, sparse system that barely gets us anywhere. Between the trains, trams, busses, and bicycle paths this place has it MADE. But that’s not really something I want to make a talking point out of, although it absolutely had to be noted.
Look. at this. tiny car.
What I DO want to talk about is the Dutch word “gezellig“. It is a little tricky to talk about this since it actually has no literal English translation. It describes a feeling induced by your surroundings that I personally have connected with home-y-ness. Feeling relaxed and content with your current state, and not entirely having to do with aesthetics. It is also a way of being in the moment, and in good company. My attempt at defining this word has already gone on too long- and I think it tends to be this way for anyone trying to put their finger on it. Why am I going on about this? Well, because until I came to Holland I didn’t realize how, well, gezellig something could be! From the windows of shops and restaurants to the stoops of buildings- attention to detail is elevated to its highest form with modesty and a very human sense of design prioritized. I feel as though the aesthetic of every home and business is asking me to come inside, with no pretension or daunting facade. Just, come in! You don’t even need to buy anything. We just want you to be here. Being in the business of hospitality, this has been the most appealing thing about my limited time here.
Visually, Amsterdam is breathtaking. The facades of the old buildings, the modesty of the modern ones, and the harmony between them is balanced and intuitive. Instead of having a conflicting landscape of old and new the Dutch have somehow found a way to use the new to complement the old therefore creating a panorama that is at peace with its antiquity and yet that fully embraces progress- a perfect reflection of the overall Dutch outlook on how things should be. It is inspiring, and humbling, as it has precipitated a feeling of self-awareness that can shake ones foundation quite a bit.
Next time, and sooner than later…the delicious things I have been eating.
Tot de volgende keer!