Sep. 7th, 2012

I'M BACK

Sep. 7th, 2012 05:56 pm
skew_whiff: (raising hell)
I'M BACK, I'M BACK, PRAISE BE, I AM BACK

I am so elated I could honestly almost cry.

It is not because the internet service provider I signed up with made with the goods at last, mind you, but because after waiting all morning for a phone engineer that never came, I finally cracked, and have now struck a deal with the guy living next door to me that I'll use his wireless and pay half the share.

I really should've done that a month ago and saved myself the bother, and I don't look forward to the rigmarole of calling TalkTalk's appalling call centre and cancelling the whole shebang, but FUCK IT I AM BACK. GOD, INTERNET, I HAVE MISSED YOU.


Anyway. Amsterdam, for the record, was amazing - rather expensive, much more so than Berlin, so I had to tread carefully - but exactly what I needed, a relaxing stay in a beautiful city in which, for once, nothing went wrong. (Asides from occasionally getting confused by the barriers on the trams and missing my stop.)

I spent a lot of time just wandering around admiring the architecture and being amused by tourists - like the bunch of Germans who startled me on the train by barking 'Fahrkarte bitte' at me as they entered my compartment (I only wish I had enough German to have told them they were reminding me something out of The Great Escape; they were amused that I knew enough just to get all flustered and actually start reaching for my ticket), and the weird American guy who came into the cafe where I was eating breakfast to ask where he could go to buy a joint. I mean, jeez, bro, at least wait until after lunch.

I saw several museums, including the excellent Verzetsmuseum, which is about the experience of the Netherlands and its people during WWII - the stuff about the war in Europe and the Dutch resistance was fascinating, but what I was really impressed by was the little sub-exhibit about Dutch-occupied Indonesia during the Pacific war; it's a subject on which I know precious little, and I was particularly struck by the awkwardness of the situation in which mixed-race Dutch-Indonesians found themselves in after the war, not necessarily welcome in their home country or in the Netherlands.

I also ate exceedingly well, and came home with a bag stuffed full of cakes and Dutch gin. Including a packet of these biscuits, which made me burst out into entirely inappropriate laughter in the shop. It's not the name so much as the name with the exclamation mark afterwards - it just seems so incongruously jolly.

Talking of BoB, Webster was entirely right in that the Dutch do all speak English (and wrong about Van Gogh being born in Nuenen; he lived there, but not as a child), to the point that the signs in Schiphol airport actually have the English words for things first, above the Dutch ones. It's really easy to come by English-language books and newspapers, I passed an event where the University of Amsterdam were holding free outdoor lectures in English, I went to see a film which was in English with Dutch subtitles (and watched Top Gear on BBC2 in my hotel room)... it's a little odd, but certainly convenient.

So, yeah. It was amazing, and I recommend it to anyone. You do have to keep a keen eye out to avoid being run over by bicycles, but asides from that, it's a wonderful city - prettier than Paris, friendlier than London, good food is in abundance and it's easy to get around. I could honestly see myself living there one day.

But in the meantime - it's good to be home. Have I missed much?

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