Amsterdam. I’d been there many times before, eight in fact, and thought it most logical to visit once more for a loafing late-summer weekend.
Maybe it was the dingy, lifeless hostel (Hotel Hostel Mevlana) and the pack of pubescent, constantly nattering potheads in my dorm, maybe it was the insipid air and grey afternoons, maybe it was my belated realisation that I have no interest in cannabis or its self-propagating subculture, or maybe it was the fact that I had far too much on my mind to be luxuriating in boredom.
Maybe it was all of those things, but I truly hated Amsterdam this time around. I hated the trams, the plethora of bicycles, the casual hyperinflation of its bars, and the general nuisance of its drug dealers and small-time scammers. I found the city beneath me, not worthy of my time. It was an unpleasant feeling.
“What a dump this place is,” I muttered to myself as I stood outside Centraal Station puffing on an e-cigarette. I had been there all of ten minutes and felt stunned at my own aversion to the city; I’d saturated Amsterdam to death and was stuck there for another four days. Depression kicked in. I walked the streets, frequented many a coffee shop, watched some football games in its bars, and even popped into a few museums. My heart wasn’t in the matter, though. I’m struggling to fathom why I ever was fond of the city, and I’d like to have the whole trip exorcised from my memory by the end of the month.
The highlight – save the flight home – was sitting in the park on my own under a tree, drinking Cointreau and reading a book about the fall of the Soviet Union (Lenin’s Tomb by David Remnick). This, of course, could have been conducted in my front garden. Anyway, it was, I guess, a valuable experience in melancholy management.