Hello everyone and welcome to the second official post for People & Pints. My first full week in Amsterdam was very busy; I spent most of my time exploring the city with my orientation group. Between a canal cruise, a comedy show, a few parties and a trip to the zoo there wasn’t a lot of time to just enjoy the serenity this city has to offer. Of course I enjoyed all of the activities during my orientation but it was still quite a bit hectic. I did manage to meet some wonderful people from around the world and certainly made some great friends.
For this blog post I decided to escape the boisterousness of a bar in the center of the city and journeyed to Amsterdam-Noord (North). The river IJ separates the north of Amsterdam from the rest of the city, which makes the section equally charming yet slightly calmer. With spectacular views of the city, a growing nightlife scene and routes to quaint villages, Amsterdam-Noord is worth exploring. I had hoped to have a quiet trip across the IJ and enjoy a relaxing night but I may have chosen the wrong evening to make this trek.
Every five years tall ships grace the waters of Amsterdam in an event called SAIL. As nice as the event is, trying to board a ferry crossing waters full of hundreds of ships took much longer than expected. Still I made it to my destination with enough time to properly enjoy my night.
I had shared my idea for this blog with several people I’d met during the week and many appreciated my interest in meeting new people while sharing drinks and meaningful conversation. I quickly became friends with one person in particular who seemed to respect my passion for writing and my desire to document my adventures abroad. Edward (he prefers Ed), another student in my orientation group, is from London and, though he studies Geography, is passionate about film. Ed decided to join me on my journey to the north and agreed that a quiet night away from the bustle of the city was much needed.
Amsterdam is home to several craft breweries spread throughout the city. One of the newer and smaller ones is Oedipus Brewing, whose taproom just opened in June. Ed and I managed to find the taproom in a more industrial section of the north. The building itself looked very much like a standard warehouse but the picnic tables on the patio, the soft lights and the art adorning the walls of the taproom made it feel very inviting. We ordered our first beers at the bar and brought them outside, enjoying the cool breeze of the Dutch evening.
Ed used one word to characterize the feeling of Oedipus: gezellig. Gezellig doesn’t have a direct translation in English but in simplest terms it means utter comfort and coziness. It does more than just describe a place though, it blends personal emotions with the beautify of a location. I couldn’t agree more with Ed’s description and I hope everyone at Oedipus would too.
The sun began to set as Ed and I chatted and enjoyed our beer. I had ordered the Thai Thai, a delicious Tripel, and he did the same. The Thai Thai was strong at 8% ABV but was wonderfully refreshing and tasty. The spices that give the beer its name linger with hints of pepper, chili, lemon and coriander.
Although we came to try the beer, Ed and I eventually started discussing our creative pursuits. Although we work in different mediums, the similarities abound. Ed shared that though he loved making videos, he might take a break while studying in Amsterdam. I was a little surprised but the more he explained his reservations the more I realized he was voicing some concerns I had had. Ed smartly pointed out the shortcomings of film when on a personal journey. The act of pointing a camera quite literally puts the artist at a remove from the material. He said that he felt he might distract himself from truly enjoying his experience here if he were constantly looking for the perfect shot. I agreed but pointed out that in some ways that process could help him delve even deeper into the culture of the city.
Still, I understood Ed’s qualms. I had been worried that I might limit myself by creating a blog; if I went out once a week with the deliberate intention of making “meaningful conversation” I might not have a genuine, organic experience. Ed nodded understandingly. Ed told me that he had traveled through South East Asia, filming his journey, and explained some of the challenges he met. Though the people he encountered were welcoming, the sight of a camera was almost always off-putting. I likened this to placing a phone down to record a conversation. People automatically began to either perform or push away, Ed shared. But Ed was quick to explain that in situations like this, where “authenticity” is in question, he is just as likely to perform–in his own way. “Every piece of work has a voice,” he said. I smiled, knowing exactly what he meant; there can’t be anything fully objective. “Exactly,” Ed responded, “you know, things are ‘based on a true story’.” Although Ed was describing key issues in creative endeavors, we eventually agreed they were nonetheless worth pursuing. Ed admitted he was still thinking about working on some film project while in Amsterdam, he just hadn’t settled on anything yet.
We continued to talk in this way as I moved on to my second drink, Nestje, a smooth Pale Ale. The bartender saw me struggling to settle on what to try next and suggested comparing this lighter beer to the Thai Thai. The Nestje didn’t have as much flavor but was very nice. It also smelled lovely and the bartender explained that the flowers and herbs were picked a few blocks away. Nestje means nest or even litter (as in a litter of puppies) in English and certainly felt softer than the strong Tripel I had just enjoyed. It may seem strange to compare this beer to family, the act of mothering or simply home but it somehow seemed fitting.
Perhaps this beer was appropriate as Ed and I discussed “leaving the nest” after University. Ed is in his final year so “real life” is much more immediate for him. We also talked about our favorite films , our respective girlfriends and hopeful travels for the semester. As we rounded out our night I decided to try Oedipus’ Saison (my favorite style of beer): Mannenliefde. “Men love it” is a great name for this delicious Saison, which is sweet and aromatic with hints of lemon.
I finished this final beer and we headed back to the city center, through the maze of tall ships. Fireworks illuminated the sky and provided a nice end to our gezellig evening.
Come back next week for another post and as always leave your comments bellow!