Today, June 21st, was the longest day of the year. Here in Amsterdam it did not get fully dark until after 11pm. Coming from Sydney I am not used to such things and it is taking a bit of getting used to. The long days are not good for sleeping, how can I go to bed when it is still daytime? I am more likely to go to bed at 2am, when it has been dark for a few hours and really seems like night time. I am glad that I am not traditionally employed at the moment as this could be a real problem with a 9 to 5 job. Long days also mean more time to spend outdoors on the warm summer nights, going for bike rides and seeing the city. It also gives us more time to enjoy the terras, where every cafe has their tables outside in the street or square, like the Australian al fresco.
I am loving the bike riding here (fietsen). Within Amsterdam it is my only form of transport. The flat land is perfect for riding, and the Dutch have embraced it wholeheartedly. Every road has a corresponding bike road, usually painted red and separated from the car road. Bikes have right of way over cars and pedestrians although perhaps not trams. Special bike roads mean special traffic management: every corner with normal traffic lights also has bike traffic lights! Most places have bike racks but if not there is always somewhere to chain up the bike, and chain up you must; according to the Lonely Planet each bike is stolen an average of twice per year. I have a pretty fancy bike so I have to take extra care. Regardless of this small risk, cycling is by far the best form of transport on a nice day. You can get anywhere and it is door-to-door. For Kirsten’s birthday we went to a restaurant that was about 5km from our house. As there was no room in her parents’ car, Michel and I rode to the restaurant. We had finished our first beer by the time that the car people arrived. Cycling is the fastest transport.
When I am cooped up inside working all day and start to hit that mid-afternoon slump, all I have to do is go for a ride and I feel reinvigorated and happy and find that i work much better.
Back on the subject of Summer, I have found that the Dutch definition of ‘Summer’ and ‘hot’ differ from that back home. The definition of a Heat Wave is five consecutive days with a maximum of over 25