2_4_DiscoverBenelux_13_Januar_2014_MADS_Scan Magazine 1 17/12/2014 15:24 Page 67
Discover Benelux | Culture | Columns
Where to live when living in Amsterdam TEXT: SIMON WOOLCOT | PHOTO: SILVIA DE VRIES
A common request received by the Shallow Man is for advice on where to live in Amsterdam. An area that offers a lot of contrasts and is pretty trendy right now is Amsterdam West. To do it justice, I will split it into two main neighbourhoods: Oud West and Bos en Lommer. According to the Roman Catholic Church, Purgatory is the place between Heaven and Hell, from where those who have not committed mortal sin go to heaven. The same could be said of Oud West. It is situated tantalisingly close to the Heaven of Amsterdam South and also within smartphone-snatching, easy scooter-riding distance to the Hell that is Bos en Lommer. If you want to see up and coming yuppies in their natural habitat, move to Oud West. This neighbourhood is hip, consisting of delicatessens, good wine dealers, and plenty of lively cafes. Back in the day, the Shallow Man could frequently be seen at Cafe Oslo, fighting off cheap-boot-wearing ladies with bad hair-
cuts. Think of Manhattan’s East Village and you’ll be in the right ballpark. In recent years, lots of renovations have taken place here, making it an incredibly good value place to buy or rent property. When going for breakfast or lunch during the weekend, please be careful not to trip, due to selfish parents parking their bugaboo pushchairs anywhere they please. That aside, Amsterdam Oud West gets the Shallow Man’s seal of approval, something I'm sure will bring joy to the local council. If Dante were alive today, he’d have based his masterwork, Inferno, in Bos en Lommer. For those of you not familiar with Dante, he wrote about taking a tour through hell. I’m sure that there’s a Dante straat in Bos en Lommer somewhere. Like Amsterdam East, Bos en Lommer is at the very end of known civilisation. It’s a long and perilous journey to get there, and upon arriving you’ll soon realise that apart from the joys
of doner, some gambling halls and a few local social clubs, there is very little to do there. If you are looking for a neighbourhood which even Taxi drivers are afraid to take passengers to (even though many of them live there) and want to be guaranteed a life of boredom and eternal torment, move to Bos en Lommer. www.amsterdamshallowman.com
Thoughts on evenings TEXT & PHOTO: SILVIA DE VRIES
At the time of writing it’s the end of one of those typical, grey Dutch days. While it hasn’t been really light out all day, the sky turns even darker when night falls, and across the canal I can see people switch on the lights in their homes. It reminds me of a similar moment, a couple of days ago. I took a bus from Amster-
dam to Haarlem; I didn’t need a book or mobile to keep me occupied. While driving through different neighbourhoods into the seemingly forgotten stretch of land between Amsterdam and Haarlem, what you witness is the daily evening rituals of many a household. See, the Dutch tend to leave the curtains open, allowing passers-by a glimpse into their homes. What unfolds while driving past home after home with rooms lit against the dark backdrop of the evening sky is a slideshow of interior design, people and rit-
uals. Black walls, red walls, white walls. Wallpapered walls; flower print, stripes or dots. People enjoying dinner alone or with their family or no dinner at all, just homework at the table… Homes with an empty table, a table full of titbits, a table full of food. Nothing is as diverse as the human being and therefore also the place they call home. I love this time of night, when everything is covered in a blanket of darkness, which to me makes the world a little gentler: the sound of daily life slowly fades away, people going home, stopping working. It seems so normal, yet when you look at the process closer or through the window of a bus, you see that even the most mundane things have a silver lining.
Issue 13 | January 2015 | 67
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.