There has never been a happier version of me, than the Amy who went to visit you. The freedom is almost tangible, as most people who visit are behaving vastly different than they would in their hometown.
I learned so much with you. From new sensations, to new experiences, to the culture shock of having the teabag laid on the saucer beside the mug! I learned about the history, and I learned about myself. With you, Amsterdam, I learned that I'm free to be who I want, and I don't have to ask for permission to express myself. I learned about the fuzzy numbness that comes from eating space-cakes with funny Italian strangers off the tourist trail. The sensation of feeling relaxed in a way I had never experienced before was odd, but lovely.
You're steeped in history, Amsterdam, and it's just the most bonkers, brilliant thing. The Red-Light District was truly an education in the most abrupt sense - the incredible Oude Kerk amidst all the debauchery, - how funny it seemed to me, that you've got a church that survived three disasters, slap bang in the midst of an area that is famous for weed and hookers. The night we visited the RLD, it snowed. It has got to be one of the most beautifully contrasted things I've ever had the good fortune and pleasure to witness.
The debauchery is incredible. I know I use a mildly negative term, but bear with me; You're the most famously relaxed city in the world. People come to see you, they come to spend time with you, without a pupil in their eye for the duration of their stay, however long that may be. They're missing out on the most fun things you have to offer. I'm just going to say it, The Sex Museum is hilarious, and a better couple of hours I've never spent, slightly uncomfortable in the voyeurism, but mostly wholly enjoying myself, the highlight of which was having my photo taken with what I can best describe as a six-foot-phallus. Hilarious!!
There is an innocence to you too, most people don't see that side, but it's there. Two hours spent with cats, on my 24th birthday, with my darling boyfriend, was the most innocently diverting thing I've done in years. To this day I still follow the Katten Kafe Kopjes on Instagram, and I keep up with your beautiful, esteemed architecture with Gotta Love Amsterdam. I've recreated your local fare, Dutch Apple Bacon crepes are a wonderful treat, that calls to mind a rainy morning spent planning the best tourist route to take.
You're wonderful, I hope you know that. You're fun, you're freeing, you're filling. I will be back to you, Amsterdam, that I can promise you.
Red Letters is going to be an ongoing project where I will be writing to places I've been, so keep an eye out for Cork, Paris, Waterford, Wexford, Nottingham, and so on.