A few weeks ago I visited Amsterdam. I hadn't seen my family since July last year, and I was turning a little homesick.
When I arrived to Amsterdam Central Station everything felt new and familiar at the same time. I was surprised to see an Automatiek, a fast food system where the food is waiting behind little glass doors, for people to throw in some coins and pick out what they want. Two Chinese tourists were standing amazed in front of it, eager to try it.
I decided to wander a little through town, until I would meet up my childhood friend Ivo. I passed the Oudemanhuispoort, a tiny gate, one of the oldest parts of the University of Amsterdam, which leads to a narrow passage and the university. As charming as this might already seem, most of its character this place gets from the old book salesmen who are selling their merchandise from something that I can only describe as a closet.
Walking further south I arrived at the Waterloo Square. A square which is almost never visible because of the permanent market that it houses. Only on Mondays, when the market is closed, the square seems really as a square. However, I prefer the liveliness of the market days. It is the perfect place for someone who is strolling around. There are as many different kinds of people as curiosities sold; there will never be a lack of things to look at.
It was almost time to meet Ivo, and my straying soon would come to an end. Suddenly it struck me, this is no longer my home town. I had been walking around, amazed about little things that seem different from home: I was a tourist. Looking at a city like a tourist has a great benefit, because we have and take the time: all the little things are exiting and nothing is taken for granted.