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Estere Kajema
Upper Sixth
Hallward's House

City of infinite inspirations

City of infinite inspirations

There are two types of people in this universe: those who say words from their stomach; and those who feel every syllable in between their lungs. I, most definitely, am the second one. That is why this article may seem to be a little bit over the top, but I can assure you it is not.

This weekend I took a plane to Amsterdam. Not because I wanted to be a rebel and legally try everything that is illegal in other parts of the world, but because I have heard so much about the beauty of the city; about the bridges and the river and because I am so in love with Rembrandt and Vermeer. What I really did not expect was how much this trip would give me.

As soon as I arrived, I went for a walk around the city. Everything surprised me here — scents, views, streets, the Red District, how absolutely gorgeous Dutch people are, tulips, and how quickly I could get from one side to the other on a bike. Everyone owns a bicycle here in Amsterdam. Girls have long blond hair and white smiles; boys wear Timberland shoes and always smoke. They drink beer, absinthe, they dance, work in small art galleries and fruit shops. In the evenings, people meet each other in coffee shops or small pizzerias, they give each other beautiful tulips and take trains to Brussels for the weekend.

The first morning I woke up very early and went to the National Museum of Art and the Van Gogh museums. I saw three masterpieces that made me hold my breath for a couple of seconds — “Night Watch” by Rembrandt, “Milkmaid” by Vermeer and “Wheatfield with Crows” by Vincent van Gogh. Having read about and studied these works so deeply, seeing them “in real life” meant so much to me. The colours, shades, expressions, the brushstrokes — everything seemed to be so completely different. I was especially inspired by “Night Watch” and spent about an hour sitting in front of the great painting and trying to completely understand it. Such a virtuoso use of light, gives the painting a very strong feeling of movement. It is so original and so unusual, our eyes are drawn in every single direction, you do not know where to look. “Night Watch” has such a strong and powerful energy, that after taking a long, thoughtful look at the painting, you feel like all your strength is gone, and all you want to do is walk around the city, and try to understand, what could possibly make Rembrandt such an honest and brave artist.

A couple of days before I went to Amsterdam, I found out that Oh Land, one of my favourite bands, was performing here as well, and I was desperately trying to find a ticket, but, absolutely hopelessly, they were all sold out. I was incredibly lucky to get a ticket 20 minutes before the actual gig started. Standing right next to the stage, I was very shocked by how Dutch people are so calm and patient. I was singing along, jumping and screaming, and seemed like I was doing so on my own. “It’s all about being in a car, in the middle of the night, driving through the town with one that you love; and everybody’s gone to sleep, and very soon the person is going to go out from the car and go home”, that is what the lead singer said about her song Rainbow. It is incredible how much a musician can put into their lyrics, their beats and chords. A whole universe and a little bit more. After the show, I came up to see the soloist of the band — Nanna. I shook her hand, and we shared a couple of jokes about how us, Northern European girls, are so emotionally unstable and cannot listen to music without reacting. I have to say I absolutely love it when people “from the stage” are so warm and welcoming. Last time I wrote about Oh Land being a support act for Katy Perry, and I was talking about her album called “Oh Land”. This time, I have to say, it is all about “Fauna”, and their song called Frostbite. Another English band that performed that same night, they are called The Good Natured, and are brilliant, I seriously would recommend everyone to get their album called “Skeleton”.

This is not where my night ended though. I went out to the night streets of Amsterdam, to seek inspiration and something new and I found it. In a little place called “Vivelavie”, I met the most incredible and mind-blowing people I could possibly ever meet. People who ride pink bicycles; who listen to Portishead; can’t pronounce word “jewelry”; who love Natalie Portman and vodka; people who wear colourful scarves; play computer games; people with a fantastic sense of humor; people who fall in love with cities and beautiful girls; people who honestly believe in words they say; people who walk me home and tell me stories about their childhood without knowing my name. People in Amsterdam are those whom you will want to tell things to that you’ve never said out loud before, they are the ones you will love until the rest of your days.

Next day, I went to see Anne Frank’s house, and it was the most powerful and emotionally stabbing thing I did there. Her room; the floor she used to walk barefoot on; her red checked diary and her handwriting; all the stories kept there are impossibly vital and heartbreaking. It is so important for every single person to come to that “museum”, to understand how valuable our lives are, how important it is to keep believing and to never lose faith. It is very hard to keep calm and tolerant about the tragedy of the Holocaust, in this city. Before the war, there were 120,000 Jews here and after the war, only 20,000 came back safely, leaving behind such smart, honest, loving people as Anne herself. She was never fully understood. Her father, Otto, was the only survivor of the war and when he found Anne’s diaries, he said he never knew how deep Anne really was, it was a massive surprise for him to find out that his younger daughter had universally incredible ideas and gigantic plans for her never-to-be-experienced future. I have learnt a very important lesson — do not ever bury anything you do. Say all the words out loud, or at least write them done. Nothing shall be forgotten or kept away, because to make the world better, to be more understood, all the thoughts have to be materialistically out there.

Even though I have only spent three days here, Amsterdam gave me an unforgettable experience and I will never forget this city or the people I met. Amsterdam is truly “one of a kind”, these streets are almost breathing and talking to pedestrians. Right now, my plane is 5 hours delayed, and I honestly believe it is Amsterdam itself telling me to stay here, as there is so much to be seen, so much to be heard, so much to be felt. I will come back, beautiful city with bridges, scooters and loving hearts!

23 November 2011

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