A young dutchman cracks a joke as we inhale the smoke and turn the pages of the guestbook. I’m in the Siberie coffee shop, where a warm haze permeates the room.
It’s a good place to seek refuge, considering that just outside the door, there’s a strange wintery mix of hail, rain, and sunshine. I guess it’s typical for November in Holland considering how close we are to the sea.
I hate to generalize, but there’s something attractive about the Dutch especially from Amsterdam. The way they self-mock, their open encouragement to be weird, creative, or maybe just their acceptance to a life which should be celebrated by your own principles.
Even this dutch cat has his say on life. He can be human too, just drinking at the bar, no big deal.
Where the old world meets the new, I’m spell-bound by Amsterdam. Unlike Rotterdam’s new urbanized structures, Amsterdam’s houses show their age and character dating back hundreds of years. The city harbors the influences of Surinam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Turkey, and Greece all in a messy concoction of globularness. Though some of these cultures were once a part of the Dutch empire, they still carry a strong mark today.
Dutch people attract me with their sense of humor. I like to describe it as a slightly self-deprecating tone, dry with a touch of sharp wit. Our boat tour guide cracked me up as we floated through Keizersgracht (Kings Canal). We pass million dollar boathouses, an all inclusive deal for tourists like me to snap away photos of their bedroom.
“It’s worth it!” he says sardonically. “You have all the privacy you can get!” he says point blank
Then there are the coffee shop owners, upbeat and friendly. We went to a few coffee shops to witness this, including Amnesia and Siberie aforementioned.
I am buzzed at this point recollecting my overly romanticized feelings for the city. I stroll up to the counter where the young dutchman is sitting. Stereotypically blond, lean, with green eyes, he watches me as I approach the counter.
“Excuse me, can I have the bathroom key please?” I ask.
He nervously picks up a key, the wrong one, of course.
“This one is for the men’s room..” I chuckle
“Oh, Sorry! I didn’t see!” he exclaims
Cute, I think. When I return, he’s flipping through the pages of what it looks to be a sketchbook.
“Ohh, you’re an artist?!” I ask
“Haha, no actually, this is actually our guest book. People like to draw in here, I guess, when they’re high.”
“Indeed yes,” I smile
“Where are you from?”
“Hm..well you sound American”
“Right, but do you know where exactly?” I grin
“East coast more or less”
And pretty soon we begin to click. But it’s too bad my friends gathered their coats as our conversation grew. I wave them to join, hoping to kill more time with the dutchman.
“Let me write something in the guestbook.” I say
He smiles at my note. No trace of contact, but a note on my gratitude seeing Amsterdam with an open mind.