Monday, March 30, 2009

I have spent my last few nights sleeping under a bridge

made it to Amsterdam.

This city has a lot to offer, for starters it is absolutely gorgeous. One of the best cities to just get lost in and explore. The streets are hills and bridges of cobblestone, twisting alongside an endless conduit of canals. House-boats line the edges of every street. Cyclists, vespas, and pedestrians zip over old bridges and through back alleys at every hour of day and night.

It rains here everyday. Puddles dance atop the cobblestone and capture romantic colours of diffused light; the kind of light only revealed through a filter of heavy slate clouds. I thoroughly love the viscous atmosphere, although I take pleasure in seeking out the first seldom rays of sun to occasionally grace my skin in the early day.

I literally have been sleeping under a bridge the past few nights. One of the best social spaces to ever be squatted in Amsterdam was opened last Saturday. It is called "Under the Bridge," and for good reason: I imagine that the vast majority of passers overhead have not the slightest clue that the space below their feet becomes alive every night with music of all kinds, masses of people, laughter, and good food. The bridge is enclosed by a modernest warehouse structure with massive walls of glass on each side; it is a bit like living in an aquarium, except most people cannot see in and we have a brilliant view of the harbor. It is prime real-estate, and if laws here are as pro-squatter as I hear, the space will not be evicted for quite some time. Every night there is voku (I am not sure if this is a colloquial term or not, I have heard it used in Germany as well. It is basically a vegan dinner ideally prepared from skipped food. Anyone is welcome to come and partake, but donations of a couple euro are strongly encouraged), and beer is only 50 cents a bottle. Any wall in the place is considered open canvass for spray paint, except one which is used to project presentations or films onto. On various nights there are lectures presented on a range of interesting subjects (from the origin of money and what it has become today, to securing online information, to forums on the Israel/Palestine conflict, etc..). There is a solid group of programmers and hackers that have been making good use of this space. Some of the work that they have demonstrated to me is very impressive; they are sure to be a great resource for learning more about coding, hacking, linux based systems, and various web design and animation skills.

I have also been spending time with another group of generous people who let me crash at their place my first few nights in Amsterdam. They are a wonderful group of people, all very optimistic about life. And they are fantastic cooks. I have spent quite a few mornings in their living room drinking tea and delving into various books in the house library.

...And to answer the question you all have been waiting for: Yes, the hash is quite good. Most of the coffeeshops are pretty lame though, filled almost exclusively with tourists and soon-to-be-frat-kids set to get stoned out of their skulls before going into the first year of college. I have stumbled upon a few coffeeshops that appear to have intelligent life inside, and are perhaps even worth checking out, if only for novelty's sake. Novelty which I imagine will wear off shortly as I spend more time getting to meet people here: most locals have either grown out of smoking... or simply started growing their own. Criticism aside, I can say that one of the best sunny days I have spent in Amsterdam started early one morning with a double shot of espresso and a banana-nut-hash muffin.

That is it for now. I have found another place to stay: with one of the friends I made in Copenhagen. It looks like I will be staying in Amsterdam for a little while, working on a website for the Copenhagen group among other things. So I will let you know how it goes, I just wish I had my bike here, that would be fantastic. Maybe I can pick one up somewhere temporarily. Anyway, cheers, I miss you all and will talk to you soon.

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