One city is responsible for bringing coffee to Europe, taking Santa Claus to America and ruining mothers everywhere. There are approximately 1280 bridges spanning more than one hundred kilometres of canal, the third-oldest zoo in Europe and it was the setting for Anne Frank’s diary, which has now sold more than 31 million copies.
We are, of course, talking about the Netherlands, more specifically, Amsterdam. Probably best known in contemporary culture for its coffee shops, red light district and inventing the promotional pen, it is an energetic city offering much more than the obvious garish tourist attractions.
So who are we? What are we doing in Amsterdam? What does it all mean? What was there before the universe existed? Is there a meaning to life?!? Perhaps we should just tackle the first two queries and leave the others for another time…
Callum: I guess it’s my fault we are here; I took a doctoral position at one of the institutions in Amsterdam. I have always longed to move abroad for a period, anywhere really. I didn’t put a pin on a map or pluck Amsterdam from a hat, it was more a case of peppering the internet with my CV and hoping, dreaming it would snag a job somewhere, anywhere. As it turns out, it turned out rather well.
When I grow up, I hope to have finally, just once, finished a ‘to do’ list. I like British cheese, novels with old sleeves, maps, watching the rain from inside, and sleeping. I dislike slow-moving people on narrow streets and, worse, people choosing narrow and busy thoroughfares to stop and exchange what is likely a banal collection of pleasantries; if they were actually friends or close acquaintances, they would be having their conversation somewhere else, like on a bench, or in a quiet place.
Laura: I am the better half, who moved here to make sure Callum gets up for work in the morning. Hailing from the premier seaside resort south of Berrow and north of Bridgwater, moving to Amsterdam was a sacrifice but one I was prepared to make. I now teach the wonderful puzzle that is English to children and adults alike and am learning Dutch myself, although painfully slowly. My two favourite hobbies are reading and eating, although I dislike it when people spill food on books. I have a fear of large (and medium-sized) bodies of water, which does seem a tad bizarre given the amount of water literally floating around Amsterdam. One of my main ambitions in life is to meet Simon Pegg. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?
If you feel like our life here in Amsterdam sounds fascinating enough to keep you coming back for more divine, engrossing and superlative posts, then, erm, do.