Everything has been a bit quiet around here for a while. The only excuse I can give you is that I had to hand in my dissertation at the beginning of the month and have been stringing together front of house gigs since. I have certainly had call to write blog posts, the world has continued to throw up issues around me: the older women actors’ discrimination claims going being voiced on a European stage, the West End domination of the Tony’s, the Edinburgh Fringe programme launching last week and the concept of how we judge success in the arts, a topic I examined for my dissertation, but each topic has remained unexamined in this forum to date.
Having a week between two front of house shifts, I decided to raid the EasyJet website for a city break which would let me escape on Sunday and get back into the country in time to shepard youth theatre kids around the building on Friday night. The EasyJet flight schedule from Liverpool chose Amsterdam for me. I thought for a change, having found myself in a strange city alone for the first time I would tell you my story. I am going to be writing far more regularly now I have finished the academic portion of my life, my new job at Whatsonstage.com playing a major part of it, so I thought I would share some thought from my iPhone.
Having spent what felt like 3,000 hours at John Lennon International Airport (I know, you couldn’t write this stuff) and having lived through the increadible poor showing on the part of humanity and human nature that is flight by budget airline, I found myself in Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport.
Having only transfered here once as a child, I’d forgotten quite how large the place is. Having escaped my overly orange flying death tube I made my way into the terminal and tried to find the exit. Having turned their airport into a giant shopping centre, however the Dutch don’t seem to want you to escape. I followed signs for baggage reclaim for a bit, in spite of not having any bags to collect, hoping that I would find a door there and eventually escaped into daylight.
It’s hard to miss the trains into the city centre as you exit the airport and as advertised the ticket into town is only €3.80. The most obvious button which the ticket machine presents you with having selected English for the transaction is a €6 “comfort class” ticket however and a bit of digital navigation is required to get the cheapest ticket. I also had to pay an extra €1 for paying with a credit card, my VISA not being liked by the machine and the cash machines I tried being out of order.
The trip into the city by train shows Amsterdam as collection of uninspiring blocks of flats. You are immediately struck by how flat the entire country is, with the train tracks raised above the streets and canals below, there are no distant rolling hills to give perspective.
Coming out of Centraal Station onto the Damrak my first impression was how grey everything was. The weather probably didn’t help, but everything from the sky, buildings and canals appeared to be grey and slightly hostile. The main street itself is a collection of touristy shops, arcades and low quality restaraunts. It really does remind you how lucky Edinburgh is as a city to have its visitors come up the ramp at Waverley and be standing opposite Princes Street Gardens and one of the most famous castles in the world. As a city, Edinburgh should do everything in its power to ensure the first thing visitors find is high quality retail and food when they enter the city, not the plasticy tourist trap it could quickly become.
This city really is a smoker’s paradise. Staying in the Bulldog hostel, above a cafe, not only is the ability to smoke in doors a complete change to what I’m used to, but entire streets seem to smell of weed.
I’ve settled into my room at the hostel, had some tea in the bar downstairs and am not the world’s biggest World Cup fan so, now that its dark I’m going to go and see what all of the fuss around the red light district is about, it’s only a couple of streets over.
This post was written and edited using nothing but my iPhone whilst on holiday in Amsterdam. For a week I kept a daily blog, experimenting with creating web content on the move. You can read my thoughts on the experience in this blog post.