There are always two sides to a coin. While hurricane Ophelia is wreaking havoc in Ireland, the Netherlands experienced several days of freakishly good weather. In fact, temperatures climbed so high that we basically had two days of summer in the middle of October. This bizarre effect is a result of the hurricane’s propelling powers: the warm air from subtropical regions has been pushed all the way to Northern Europe. It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced.
Countless trees have already lost their leaves, but I already started to sweat while wearing my lightest jacket. The air smelled like barbecue and picnics, but the crunchy leaves and muddy soil underneath my feet told another story. It was such a strange sensation, that I felt the need to document what I was seeing.
Flamingos and Gossip in Plantage
The Plantage neighbourhood in Amsterdam is probably my favourite area in the city. It’s bursting with stories form ‘old’ bourgeois Amsterdam while quickly becoming the new, relocated heart of student culture. The big herds of tourists usually don’t venture this far east from central Amsterdam, which has left the original no-nonsense atmosphere intact. Locals were sharing cake and gossip on the peaceful sidewalk terraces. Students were soaking up the sun along the canals and the Artis historic zoo had never been so busy on a Monday in October.
The Smell of Llamas in Amstelpark
The Amstelpark in the South of Amsterdam is a genuine gem. Not many locals from other neighborhoods even know about this wonderful piece of landscaped bliss. The park is located in an area where you normally wouldn’t think of going, next to the highway.
But this is exactly what makes Amstelpark such a pleasant surprise. The hidden park features an enormous playground, a petting zoo, an outdoor piano, an ice cream parlor, a Japanese Garden and an exhibition space. I’ve never seen the park so crowded as it was last Sunday, with the (not so delightful) smell of llamas and the sounds of laughter and music all around.
A Filter of Sahara Sand and Forest Fires
The sun has now gone and the air has absorbed an orange filter of Sahara sand and smoke from forest fires in Portugal. Isn’t it fascinating how the illusion of everyday life, eternal normality, can be so easily exposed? It seems that the rules we have made to understand nature aren’t quite adding up anymore. Maybe it’s just a once-in-a-life-time freak event, but I can’t help but feel like it’s more than that. We’re living in strange times, as we literally see the planet changing.