Amsterdam, your complexity is alluring but you are paradoxical. You were everything I expected and yet was not prepared for you as a visitor. Arrived late at night, hungry and tired, and was greeted by a buzzing city center that felt akin to the Vegas strip and Time Square. It was a strange introduction for a weary traveler. Looking to quell the hunger, took a quick walk into the night to find a noodle shop. The night was alive, there was a soccer match, the bars were full, people standing outside looking in, and people walking to a destination or from a destination all while every few steps, the aroma of cannabis lingered. It was overwhelming but oddly familiar but new at the same time. This paradox was constant. This was night one. What followed was four days of exploration and to complicate things, all while battling a head cold with immense sinus pressure. At times the city offered friendly serenity, and other times I was in a Danny Boyle movie during during hectic time lapse scene meant to overstimulate the senses. On one night, during a canal tour, our captain Jan offered more than city insights and historical facts, he offer clarity. I don’t think it was what he said, more how he was and how he said it. The next night, on the eve of my birthday, I walked alone in the city center. With my airpods, I listened to Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely” and the city melted into cohesion with the music as I people watched. There was calm and the city made sense to me. People have told me that this is their favorite city in all of Europe and it wasn’t until this moment that I understood why. You can get lost here, lose all trepidations, but you won’t lose yourself. This rarity was my takeaway. I wish I had more time here, get to know this city more intimately. Hopefully I get a chance to visit again in the future.
Images made with Lecia M6, and Leica M10 using 35 and 50 summicron lenses. The film used was Kodak ColorPlus and Portra 400.