The time has come for us to part. I wanted to write you a letter about all the things I will miss about your beautiful city. You have been exactly what we expected and hoped for, and also some more. Thank you for three wonderful months.
All these things about you, I will miss...
How you deliver a little bit more sunlight than London does in the summer. You are the reason we have slept less but lived and laughed more this year.
How so many of your restaurants are in no rush to serve us. Although southern Europe is famous for its manana attitude, there are times - often long delayed times in between courses - when your service staff seem very Mediterranean.
Vondelpark and its many changing faces. From a family and dog walker's park in the morning to a jogger's paradise in the early evening and then late at night it's anybody's playground. It's a special park and one I hope you won't let get too busy.
The green lorikeets who were such a surprise at first but are now a regular sight. I love how slow travel and staying in one place for a while makes the once shockingly unusual become gradually a little mundane.
The same goes for your hooks. I remember the first time I saw a piece of furniture being hoisted up on one of your hooks in a house near to us. I immediately photographed it as the spectacle I thought it was. Now I am oblivious and may even have tutted when a guy using a hook to lift a new chest of drawers for his children got in my way on a cycle path the other day.
Our neighbours who have all been friendly, approachable and keen to talk to us, even the couple who massage each other naked in the front room of their house, which is directly opposite ours with their curtains wide open. (And thank you downstairs neighbour for returning my knickers when they fell from our washing line onto your balcony.)
How not one person has begrudged us speaking English. It is deeply embarrassing for us, Amsterdam, but has also meant settling in was almost instant. I wonder if you've noticed how some Dutch people speak to each other in English like I've seen a few times. Don't you find that strange?
How you have improved my relationship with pigeons. In London I feared these birds and their often deformed stubby feet but here they mostly all have their claws in tact and they are surprisingly unassuming. I'm convinced the same one returns to perch on our roof terrace and keep an eye on us every day, even in the torrential rain of July (yeah, Amsterdam, what was that about?). I even didn't mind when he mistook my head for his perch one day as we sat outside in the sun during your mini heat-wave in May, though I did squeal like a deeply wronged little girl.
How it's quite normal for NewMan and I to hold hands as we cycle side by side. In London we could only do this in Hyde Park, which was always a small mission to get to
How I found struggling up the suddenly steep bridges which cross your scenic canals so frustrating and so satisfying. How many times I wondered to myself if only the other two of the three gears on my bike worked...
How the children of your city draw elaborately and enthusiastically in chalk on the pavements outside my house. I particularly rejoice in their bike inspired street art.
All of your Albert Heijn supermarkets and seeing the young staff flirt with one another at any given branch.
Ochtend blend tea from Albert Heijn. I'm still not 100% sure what's in it but it comes with encouraging messages on the label and wakes me up, which is appropriate as "ochtend" is Dutch for morning.
Seeing whole families travel around your bike paths on just one bike or the famous bakfiets.
The Dutch language and how everytime when I think I've got the hang of its pronunciation another word comes along and knocks me right off course.
The sound of bike chains waking me up as people set off on their journeys across your city to work. I wrote in this post about my first impressions of Amsterdam that the sound of bike chains would always be associated with this city and this hasn't changed. I am mourning the loss of my bike already.
How you never asked much from me and how you always let me by myself. Thank you.
With 9 streets of love and 3 Amsterdam XXXs as kisses,
Frances M. Thompson
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