Amsterdam View: Escape
Posted on August 13, 2010
Arriving back in Amsterdam after a vacation in the States, I always find it difficult to adapt. I so dearly miss the abundance of space, the impressive nature, the silence. I miss the gentler pace of vacation time. Amsterdam, so picturesque for most of the year, suddenly feels claustrophobic. The city seems crowded and cramped and suffocatingly tight. It is packed with cars, with bikes, boats, pedestrians, and most of them seem to feel the need to overrun you in their hurried and everlasting pursuit of more space.
When the sun comes out, the crowd seems to grow exponentially, rapidly covering every available inch of the city like a fast growing fungus on damp walls. The crowds spread out over parks, they take over sidewalks and terraces. A cacophony of sounds fills the streets – honking cars, ringing bike bells, stereo’s blaring from boats, screeching trams, rowdy people – leaving me with an almost unstoppable and somewhat misanthropic urge to move to Alcatraz or the desert.
I was about to pack my bags and book the first flight out to the nearest desert, when a friend from Texas knocked on my door. She has been living in Amsterdam for over twenty years, but she knows the feeling. She took one look at me and immediately knew what I needed. I needed silence and a place where I could watch clouds float by, a place where I could breathe again. She took me out for lunch at the restaurant on the third floor of the Kalvertoren. Looking out over the fifth gables of Amsterdam, I realized that I wasn’t the only one looking for an escape and that there are far more possibilities, far less drastic than leaving your hometown: your very own roof could be your sanctuary.