After I poured my heart into this open letter about everything I'll miss about Amsterdam, it's only fair that I mention that there was one unexpected thing that I hated with a small passion in Amsterdam.
Mosquitoes.After off loading all of our industrial strength repellent that saw us through Southeast Asia and the southern hemisphere relatively unscathed I took great comfort in being back in Europe where you have to be in very specific warm corners of the continent to collect bites, usually in the south. Or so I thought.
Within weeks of living in Amsterdam I fell victim to one of the city's main predators. No, not a tanked up young British man on a stag do, but a mosquito. This hungry fragment of flying vermin left it's mark on my thigh, my calf, my shoulder, my arm and my face. My face! I hate anything, human included, that takes the grand liberty of biting my face.
The ensuing months have been a battle of Bird v. Mosquito with the Mozzie often coming out on top. I generally hate killing insects, even ones that feed on my blood, but too many times I have seen red (and blotchy from all that scratching) and have waged war on them in the middle of the night switching on all the lights and hunting out their spindly legs and bloated blood-filled body while winding up a bathroom towel into the perfect whipping device. Of course, I haven't been alone. NewMan has joined me too, often being a more committed soldier than I as I grow tired quickly and crawl back into bed to scratch myself to sleep.
Don't ask me why so many mosquitos are hanging out in Amsterdam. Maybe it's the weed, the sex shows or the Rijksmuseum but they are alive and well in this part of the Netherlands and ready to absorb as much of you as they can. (I suspect their reason for being here is probably something to do with the canals but I refuse to give the enemy anymore time or attention or even a glance at the right Wikipedia page).
My advice therefore is to not leave your repellent at home if you're heading to the Dam in the spring or summer. If you're likely to sleep with the windows open or take long walks through the town on an evening with a couple of inches of flesh showing, spray up. Alternatively, ensure you have the energy and stamina for long sweaty and frustrating nights of whipping ...and I'm not remotely talking about a sex show.
And if all else fails make sure have at least one item of clothing to match the red of your mosquito bite...
Frances M. Thompson
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