I am spending the summer of 2009 in Amsterdam, visiting the ILLC group at the Universitiet van Amsterdam. I am staying right next to the Centraal station, an extreme tourist hotspot. Just below my window, the streets teem with tourists visiting coffeeshops and the red-light district with its blue-lit windows displaying their wares. The window of my room actually faces the back lane, Oudezijds Kolk, and straight across the thin canal is the majestic glazed windows of Sint Nicolaaskerk.
At the end of the lane stands the Schreierstoren, the "Tower of tears", from which 17th century wives would wave farewell to their men sailing off to distant seas. There is an excellent cafe on the tower, with a deck for the sunny days.
The Irish pub Molly Malone is just below my window, and I can hear the shouts and screams from its canalside tables as I type this in the dying hours of the day...
On my second day here, I went to Decathlon near the Arena and bought a bicycle. It was not much more that what I would have paid for an used bike, and it looked a lot better! Some friends had mentioned how their bikes had various break-downs, and I thought it would be wiser to buy a new bike itself...
However, everyone tells me about how bikes here get stolen. Every year, one in 10 bikes in amsterdam (about 50,000) get stolen, says the magazine Time Out. So I spent a good fraction of the bike cost on a lock and other accessories.
In my first week here, the ILLC moved from its location in the Plantage area to the University building in Science Park in Watergraftsmeer. This meant a lot of disruption. The new location is also a bit further - about a 20 minute ride, instead of 10-15 minutes.
This picture is from my second week; I am on my way to the new Science Park office.
I must mention that part of my motivation in coming to Amsterdam was that my sister and her husband (and their two sons, Arohan and Arush) live here. More about them in these pages that record my experiences here.