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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Reflections in a darkened Canal

Today has involved a return to a city where I briefly lived over nine years ago: the Netherlands capital of Amsterdam. Much of the journey was straightforward, despite EasyJet turning up late, the ridiculous queue for passport inspection at Schiphol, and the ticket machine that spat out my debit card several times before deciding it was a credit card and adding 50 cents to my train fare.

Back in 2000, Schiphol was a big airport, and now it’s bigger. Any thought that the day’s exercise has been missed is erased by the walk from where EasyJet now park up (no airbridge, so it’s cheaper) to the baggage claim. Fortunately the rail journey is as before, in adequately comfortable double deck trains at frequent intervals.

Centraal Station, where I stopped off to visit the GVB information office (there’s a queue, but the surroundings are agreeable, and the service is more than adequate), has a building site out front where the much delayed Noord-Zuid Metrolijn is under construction, and under increasing financial and political pressure.

Ajax are at home tonight, and I know this as trains and metros out to the Arena have been packed early evening. Much Ajax lager (they even have their own brand beer, Brit clubs take note) has been consumed, but it didn’t spark the team: they drew 0-0 with Timisoara in the Europa League.

The hotel has reassuringly familiar features, such as Amsterdam stairs (very steep) and pleasant ones, like Wi-Fi in the rooms. And there’s a Dirk just round the corner, so any shopping is sorted.

Also, there are trams running outside, which means it’s suitably civilised.

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