I love a good island hogmanay as much as the next good island girl. Last year, however, it didn’t really seem like folk were going to be at home so me and my favourite photography bud and all round gem, Christian, booked ourselves a flight out – at midday on Hogmanay – to Amsterdam.
There wasn’t much time to waste; we had to get our bearings and figure out our plan for bringing in the New Year. There’s nothing like the added dimension of time-pressure when making plans to force you out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone was instantly a dot on the horizon upon stepping out into suburban Amsterdam; when I’d seen New Year’s Eve in the city described online, word’s like ‘warzone’ and ‘terrifying’ had been thrown around a lot due to the liberal approach to firework detonation. It meant that we walked the couple of miles into Amstel, in the South of the city, with a spring in our step.
I didn’t take the camera out on New Year’s Eve itself but if you check out my Instagram Story Highlights you will get a rough idea of how mindblowing the Amstel firework display was….and how close to me people were setting off rockets from their hands.
We went to some bars and kind of just spun around the streets in awe of something completely new and wild. We found a club that would let us in without having pre-booked and danced the night away.
(The bright red remnants of the many thousands of fireworks let off across canals right the way through the city)
The next morning we did very, very little. Raising my arms to feed myself the water I so desperately required was a struggle so I told myself that if I read something from our host’s ample bookshelves I wasn’t totally wasting my morning. So I read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John LeCarré and wrote fervently in my new journal.
The next day we were ready to go again and very much in need of good food and coffee.
We ambled around and saw the city in the gentle January light of day, ate a number of oliebollen (in fact, at one point we passed an ‘oil ball’ stand on the tram and just threw ourselves off to satisfy the craving) and generally took it all in. My main goals were to take as many cute photos of Christian as possible and to avoid being pushed into a canal by someone on a bike; I managed at least one of those things.
This was a really short trip but I can’t think of a better time to be in a place like Amsterdam than at New Year. Everything felt so raw and unhinged; in great contrast to my first-footing around Uragaig at home the year before. It was nice to experience something different and I really hope it’s not the last time I bring in the bells in the square in Amstel.