I left work sometime around 8.30pm tonight - right around the time when it was still bright and sunny, but you could tell that the sun would start to set soon. I walked out of my office carrying a glass of wine and finished writing some texts and emails while sitting on the Herengracht, watching the boats go by. Not a bad way to end the work day.
There's a pattern with the weather in Amsterdam. The days might be totally unpredictable - sunny, rain, warm, cold, windy, beautiful (all within the same hour!) - but it seems like once it hits about 7pm, it calms down and clears up and gives all of us who live here a beautiful sunset. The sunsets here are insane! I don't know if it's the flatness of the land or what, but the sky just seems bigger here. There are more puffy clouds, more stunning views over the canals, and the sunset just seems to last longer than I'm used to. When I rode home tonight, I thought again about how lucky I was to have my "commute" home be a fifteen minute bike ride. During my entire ride home, I think maybe one or two cars rode past me. I felt totally comfortable riding around slowly, taking turns here and there down tiny little streets, answering my phone, or turning around to get a better view of the sky. In Amsterdam, I commute home at my own speed, at my own pace.
I spent the past week hosting a couple guests, including fellow blogger Nomadic Matt and a friend of a friend from Brooklyn. When I wasn't hanging out with my guests, I was dancing at the Nieuwe Anita, drinking Russian vodka with friends in front of their houseboat, and checking out the Open Air Film Festival. Only in Amsterdam could they build up an entire outdoor film venue for 500+ people that includes a bike parking area (for 500+ bikes), a few bars, places to buy food, a beautiful view of the Ij (the huge body of water that divides north and central Amsterdam), and make the entire thing totally free.
And now, following in the lead of almost everyone else I know in Europe, it's time for a holiday. I'm heading off to Rome for five days to visit my good friend C., my former roommate in Amsterdam. I've been studying Italian and daydreaming about the food, wine, and sun for the past few days. The last time I was in Rome was 2005, and I saw a lot of the sights then, so this trip can be mainly focused on challenging myself on how much pizza and gelato I can possibly consume in one day. Luckily, C. lived in Amsterdam for over eight years and therefore depends on a bicycle to get around everywhere, so she promised me lots of late-night bike rides through Rome. Wow, this reminds me, I should start packing!