a quick visit to civilisation

Okay, Torontonians, try this out as a mental exercise. Imagine a place where everything is organised without being draconian, where the citizens are cared for without being nannied, yet where all the grown-ups get treated like grown-ups. Public transit is clean, quick, and usable (even a distance of over 30 km can be easily travelled in less than an hour by frequent-interval, electrically-powered trains). Furthermore, the buildings all more or less go together, even the street food is decent, and people say "sorry" when they realise they accidentally stepped in front of you. Despite all this tidiness, efficiency, and politeness, people are more relaxed than in TO, and it's possible to spend an entire week there without seeing anyone get more than kind of annoyed about anything, at least by Toronto standards of road rage and general irritability.

The truth is there are lots of places in the world like this (arguably Toronto even used to be one of them), but the one I went to visit two weeks ago is called Amsterdam. This particular comparison is apt because Toronto and Amsterdam used to be sister cities, back when that didn't seem like a joke. They even named a street after Toronto. Did we name one after Amsterdam? We have the Amsterdam Brewery, at least. I suppose that's something.

If you click on the link to the photos I took there, you'll notice that it was mostly cloudy while I was there. I only really noticed when I was taking photos (and I hardly took any photos). The rest of the time I was on my way to or from a museum, or on my way to or from a café, or just walking around and... just walking around. I also did a lot of writing. Somehow it just felt better to be writing in a café there than here. I think it was the organised-yet-relaxed vibe.

I want to blog about some particulars in future posts. For now, here's the photos: