Amsterdam & Berlin & Summer

Summer hid from me and taunted me as only summer can. I saw its rays, I saw its beaches and I saw its smile, for a moment. I couldn’t catch it. It wouldn’t let me.

I traveled to Amsterdam by train on Saturday morning. It was a long weekend and Amsterdam seemed like somewhere nice to go so I bought some train tickets last minute and departed Berlin HBF a little before 11am. It was hot in Berlin. It felt like summer but I was only allowed to touch it for a few seconds before heading towards Holland. I wore a leather jacket and my skin stuck to it and I felt the sweat gather around my lower back. People were wearing chino shorts & girls were even in jhorts without the requisite tights that Berliner women wear under everything. The city was burning. Burning for summer, burning for life. 

The sun seeped in through the window as we hurtled towards Hannover.  I had never been farther west than Charlottenburg in Germany but here I was headed as far west as possible and even further. It was nice sitting in the air conditioned carriage just watching the landscape breeze by. My seat mate was a quiet pretty young woman who got off at some small town about two hours into the trip. I had the whole row to myself for the remainder of the trip and listened to music while nodding in and out of sleep. 

Bad Bentham was the last town our train stopped in before Holland. I got out to stretch my legs and by this point, the sun had disappeared behind an ugly grey blanket of clouds that stretched as far as I could see. Maybe all the way to the Sea. It was cold and I was shivering and I had to pull on my extra jacket that I brought along. I got back into the train & it started to rain, lightly & horizontally. The wind was blowing hard & the trees were shivering & shaking.

Amsterdam Centraal was packed when we arrived. So many people. So crowded in. I kinda felt like I was drowning in them or with them rather. We bumped each other and we said “sorry” “oh sorry” “excuse me” “pardon” and bumped more. I felt like a piece of livestock getting hoarded into a pen. I think everyone did. 

Everyone was tall, blonde and beautiful. A little boy in front of me had perfect blonde ringlets & smiled at me when he turned around. It was a beautiful, mischievous smile. I liked it there.

It rained all throughout the evening and as I slipped gingerly into my tight skater jeans (ripped and shredded from years of abuse) I got ready to venture into the heart of the city. The Jordaan was my first stop and it was lovely, maybe even more so in the downpour. I watched as the little water droplets from the sky landed delicately into the canal that stretched along the little street that I ended up on near the bar I would eventually duck into. It was pretty watching the water splash and intermingle with the rainfall.

There’s a lot to say about Amsterdam. The best thing I can say is that I liked it and maybe that is enough. My two nights out in her streets, corridors and bars were hazy at best but full of bursts of orange, boisterous laughter, smiles and sweet smells. It was enough. It made me feel full.

I left on Queens Day around 3pm to make it back to Berlin for May Day and to catch a bit of summer. I was longing for it and yearning for it and when I arrived at Berlin HBF, it was there waiting for me. Finally I was allowed to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and I basked in it and it made me happy and my cheeks turned pink and I felt like I had all my life in summer except now it meant so much more because it had been absent for so long. I felt an urgency to embrace it and I chased it into the night until the sun set and I was far off somewhere in my dreams.