It is time again to leave this town. To go. I will miss Amsterdam and her whims. I will miss the shops that never open. The waiters who stand behind the bar, chatting, never knowing that you are there. Or at least, doing a very good job to pretend. I will miss plates of cheese and deep-fried things. I will miss a country that understands beer. And not the crap that SABMiller make, but beer. Nectar of the gods. The drink they serve in Valhalla and all places holy. A beer made just for autumn. A beer made just for spring. And another 100 for the times in between. I will miss my bicycle and the quietest rush hour a man never heard. I will miss the kids in boxes wheeling by. The dogs who stand proud in baskets like Nelson on the bow. I will miss my house built when my ancestors were still ferreting down an English coalmine. I will miss the lean and the bend of the canalhouses. The wooden bridges on their pulleys. The locks and the lanes. I will miss the houseboats that don’t look anything like boats. The scabby coots that build nests of jetsam on old bits of flotsam. I will miss the herons poking about. I will miss Apple pie made right. I will miss shops that sell just one thing. The button shop, the stamp store and the toothbrush shop with its toothbrush ferris wheel. I will miss movies with big yellow subtitles. The old brown bars that were last redecorated when Napoleon was mooching about town. I will miss the old people who smoke outside the hospital. The smell of marijuana in the morning. I will miss the tourist lost on mushrooms. The space-cadets in the frites line. The stag weekenders asking how much to come right under the red light. I will miss the 101 different types of expat. The Swedes with their skinny jeans and snus. I will miss the gleaming grins of the Americans and the non-ironic use of y’all. I’ll miss the English, morbid, dry and happy. The Germans and their psychologies. The Spanish, the only people who can pull off a mono-dread and still look cool. And of course, I will miss the Dutch. Their honesty, their socialist bent, their sing-song greetings, their appreciation of personal time, and their obsession with orange. I will miss riding in the snow. The crunch under tyre of a fresh lay. The warm yellow glow of the best street lighting of any city I have ever been. I will miss the oliebollen and ice skating on Dam Square. I will miss the Paradiso, the bands who come to smoke pot and fumble their sets. I will miss seeing the Pixies one night, Nick Cave the next and LCD soundsystem the week after. I will miss a Broodje Hema rookworst met mosterd. Where else in the world does a shop sell household appliances and fat hotdogs?
Amsterdam I’ll miss you, but it is time to go.