I'm trying to appreciate the fact that the other day I was standing outside around 6.30pm and looked up to see a still-blue sky. The days are getting longer, and that helps, especially when we're stuck in a winter that seems to be lasting forever. We get to change the clocks in six weeks on Sunday, 28 March.
But how to keep busy in the meantime? I had an American friend (S.) visiting me for a few days recently, and I couldn't bring myself to do the usual touristy stuff that I enjoy doing - it was just too cold to pretend that a ferry ride to the north would be fun. We were active, but more in a "this is what it's like to live here" sense versus being tourists. We had dinner at a fantastic Dutch restaurant in the Jordaan, and then wandered over to another friend's house for beer and dominoes. If you ask me what a typical Friday night is like in Amsterdam, this is it - hanging out with Mexicans and playing dominoes until late into the night with a group of people whose nationalities covered 6 or 7 different countries from 3 different continents.
Over the weekend, S. and I also stopped by the Brouwerij het Ij, which is a place that anyone visiting Amsterdam must go. Beers brewed on the premises, a dirty, loud, messy room, cheese cubes, and of course a beautiful location next to a canal. We also went to brunch at a little squat in the oud west, drank lots of coffee, did some shopping at the Albert Cuyp market, and ate apple pastries and stoopwafels. I was happy to show my friend real life in Amsterdam, which of course meant that I put this California girl on a real Dutch bike (pedal brakes and rust included) and had her ride all around the city with me in -2 weather (28F). It was a really great visit - it's been awhile since any of my American friends have made the trip over, and I have to say, it was nice to be able to make references to people and places and have someone know what I was talking about.
The cinemas are also a great place to hide inside during these winter days. A few nights ago I visited Delicatessen Zeeburg for the first time to watch Repo Man, which was great. I'm still hitting all my regular places whenever I can - the OT301, De Nieuwe Anita, the Filmhuis Cavia, and as usual, the biggest problem is that I don't have enough free time to do all the things I wish I could. This weekend is full of options - concerts, parties, movies - I wish I could do it all.
Part of my free time is being used up with hunting for a new place to live (again!), which is a drag. I can't bring myself to pay a housing agency, so I'm searching the same way I always have - emails to friends, apartment listings online, the usual. I would love to stay in my current neighborhood (de pijp), where I've been living for the past 7 months. I have my favorite bruine kroegen (Dopey's Elixar, Lutmastraat 49), my favorite cafes and restaurants... but affordable/legal apartments are hard to come by in this city, and I can't be too picky. If anyone reading has any inside information, by all means, please share your tips for finding a great apartment. Bonus points if you know of something in de pijp!
I think I'm going to be spending Queen's Day in Amsterdam this year, having missed it for the past two years. I'll use it as an excuse to say that the entire city is celebrating my 2-year anniversary of living in this city. :)