Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Summer in Amsterdam

September has started, summer is over now and it's back to university now after 3 months of what were probably my last real holidays ever.
All in all, this summer turned out to be less exciting than it could have been: of the day trips I had originally planned (and announced here earlier), not a single one became reality, either due to lack of time or due to bad weather. Yup, Dutch summer weather proved to be extremely disappointing: While practically next door Germany was experiencing its hottest summer in centuries, we got barely a handfull of days with temperatures significantly above 20°C. And during those few warm stretches, I was mostly in Germany, and couldn't even go to the beach here once.

But, on the bright side: We had a whole lot of people coming to visit us here this summer! And with its many summer festivals and events it really is hard to get bored around here - even when the weather is bad.

As soon as the sun comes out, we usually go into one of the many water-side beergardens here. Our favorite, as it's just around the corner, is the Waterkant. It does not have that many tables but you can always just grab a beer at the bar and sit down somewhere on the pier (or bring your own drinks - nobody really minds as the quay technically isn't part of the bar). It usually has sun until rather late in the evening, so it's also crowded during the week and many people arrive in boats to refill on booze there or to pick up their friends.

Another favorite is Roest in the eastern part of the city (sooo far away), which boasts a swing hanging from an old industrial crane going into the canal, for swinging into the water on hot days (yuck, canal water!).

And up in Amsterdam Noord, a 10 minute ferry ride away is Pllek, built from old shipping containers, with the most comfortable bean bags and canvas chairs on its little beach overlooking the IJ river. On one of those bean bags I managed to get my first sunburn in years - I guess my skin just was not used to the sun anymore.

Then there was the Grachtenfestival: A week of concerts, most of them classical or jazz, many of them for free and on stages built onto the canals. We went to see the opening concert on the Kloveniersburgwal, and since the stage was on the canal, the audience was mostly gathered on boats and the surrounding bridges.

Probably my highlight this summer was the Amsterdam SAIL 2015. It only takes place every 5 years, so we were rather lucky to experience it now: It is probably the largest free maritime event in the world and brought this year around 50 tall ships and hundreds of other vessels: antique steamboats, submarines, ships of the Dutch navy and basically everything else that was able to swim.
It was a magnificent sight to see them all come down the IJ river on the wednesday before the event - and I may have just rediscovered my love for sail ships, if I should ever win the lottery I'll buy myself a luxury cruise on the clipper Stad Amsterdam through tropical islands.
My poor smartphone camera pictures barely do it justice, so I'll just embed one of the official videos here.

During the weekend there were hundreds of side events: parties, concerts, parades, tours, children's events, ...
Oh, and: there were so many sailors in their uniforms out and about in the city... ;)

We spent a whole day wandering around the docks (they had even partially dismanteled one of the bridges on the eastern islands so the ships could pass through!), went onto several of the large ships and marvelled at everything to be seen. The boyfriend and I agreed on a ship from Sweden, the Götheborg, being the prettiest of them all - you can see her sailing in rather in the beginning of the video, in blue and yellow.

And, to stick to the naval topic: We finally managed to go on a boat here! With visiting friends, we rented an electric boat and, within our 2 hours, we managed to go almost once along the Prinsengracht and back. Much to my dismay, we didnt quite make it until the Amstel without the danger of being late to return the boat. Maybe we should get one for ourselves.

And I'm finishing this up with a picture from Museumplein, where the new wing of the Van Gogh museum was opened last week. To celebrate this, thousands of sunflowers had been arranged on the museum square in front of it in a maze - an impressive sight!

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