I have arrived. Not quite in the sense I would like it to mean. I find myself in an apartment on the 9th floor of Amsterdam with remnants of my life including my fiancée, my dog and a solar-powered buddha. On Friday morning I was a human being. This very morning I became a British Burger.
My first impressions of Amsterdam are positive. So far we haven’t ventured into the city, instead we have tried to acclimatize to our home. Our apartment is in a quieter district with no hookers, drugs or windmills in sight. So far it has been nothing like I imagined. My passport has been bureaucratically violated and now carries a mark declaring me as an officially ‘undutchable’. I have a burger number even though the only burgers happen to be British and American. All around me I keep hearing people making noises like cats struggling to dislodge hairballs from their windpipes, each of them capable of speaking better English than me whilst the vast majority of them are so tall that they can replace the blades on windmills without using a ladder.
The key discoveries so far is that gravy has been invented, nobody actually wears clogs and a single vowel sound in the word ‘hallo’ marks me out as a foreigner. Eye contact is good, smiling is better and not all Amsterdammer’s arses are welded to bicycle seats. The supermarkets are super, lamb exists, salt and vinegar has arrived and the quality of meat is such that my dog would struggle not to make something awesome from the contents of my refrigerator. Interestingly banks don’t need to be open to get an appointment in and official bureaucracy comes with smiles, free bags and newsletters. So far the only place I have failed to get an appointment is the supermarket.
Despite my best efforts I have failed to humiliate myself in typical fashion. The closest I have come so far was by buying non-alcoholic beer and then complaining that it tasted flat. The transition to life here so far has gone as smoothly as a vindaloo’s transition from the human stomach to a sanitary waste receptacle. I only hope it continues. For now goodbye, or as they say in Windmill Land ‘Dag‘