I’m Moving to Amsterdam

3757129459_bc485a2016It’s nice to be home, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I am already missing Amsterdam.  In fact, I would love to spend a few more weeks, if not months, in the city.  Actually, it’s the first foreign city where I can imagine living.  The people are simply wonderful and the city itself is beautiful.  They are unpretentious and, with just a little prodding, some of the friendliest people that I’ve ever met.  The Dutch have mastered the art of living.  There are plenty of book stores and cafes in which to read and converse with friends.  It was nice not seeing a Starbucks on every other corner.  Public transportation is a snap.  The city’s international profile is a breadth of fresh air.  Things clearly get done, but there is no rat race.  As many of you know, people get around predominantly on bicycles, which translates into what appears to be a pretty healthy society – a lesson that we here in the United States need to take seriously.  A trip to Amsterdam really does highlight how dangerously overweight and lazy we are.  The nights are long so there is plenty of time to walk after dinner.  People sit on their porches with a bottle of wine or look out from their beautifully lit apartments.

Michaela and I spent much of our time walking along the canals, exploring narrow side streets, and eating plenty of good food.  Each morning started in a little cafe with croissant and other assorted pastries.  We hit the main art museums, including the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum along with a number of historic tours such as the Anne Frank House, which I will comment on at some point later.  Let’s just say it was one of the most moving experiences in quite some time.  We also took a day trip to Den Haag to see the sites and Vermeer’s “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” in the Mauritshuis.   The art is simply spectacular.  The Van Gogh museum gives you a nice overview of the evolution of his work during the last few years of his life, but I was also impressed with their collection of Redon.  And as much as I enjoy Rembrandt’s use of light I couldn’t get enough of the fanciful winter scenes painted by such artists as Jan Steen and Adriaen van de Venne.  In fact, I bought a nice little collection of these images in one of the museum stores.

The food is as wide ranging as you could possibly want.  The best part of dining overseas for me is you never have to worry about being rushed out of a restaurant.  You can sit as long as you want and the waiters never clear your plate before the other person is finished.  I have a great deal of difficulty sitting for long stretches of time in restaurants here in the states, but without the anxiety of having to vacate a table I am able to sit for hours overseas.  It’s a cultural difference, but a crucial one at that.  You enjoy both the food and company that much more.

I hope you will understand if things are a bit slow around here for the next few days.  My mind and heart are still in Amsterdam and I have a couple of books that I want to finish, including a biography of Anne Frank and a short history of the city.  I actually just ate a 2-day old croissant from Amsterdam rather than the crap that passes for one here in the states.

You can check out some photographs from our trip if interested.  You will also notice some photographs from a family wedding that we attended, before heading to Amsterdam, in Hinterzarten, Germany – the heart of the Black Forest.

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10 comments… add one
  • Larry Cebula Jul 27, 2009 @ 14:20

    You are just teasing the neo-Confederates, aren’t you?

  • Ken Noe Jul 27, 2009 @ 9:31

    “Actually, it’s the first foreign city where I can imagine living.” Be sure and update us on how many e-mails you get that encourage that 😉

    • Kevin Levin Jul 27, 2009 @ 9:37

      Hi Ken,

      I am happy to report none so far. Perhaps my detractors are voicing their hopes on other blogs. 🙂

  • Matt Jul 27, 2009 @ 6:46

    It’s been a while since I commented, but your post and photos brought back such wonderful memories of Amsterdam. I spent a few days there while backpacking Europe in college, and I remember having many of the exact same thoughts–namely, that if I were to ever live outside the U.S., Amsterdam would be the city I chose. Incidentally, I also have many of the exact same pictures, especially of canals and bicycles.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 27, 2009 @ 7:19


      Nice to hear from you again. Hope all is well and glad to hear that the pics brought back fond memories.

  • rhapsodyinbooks Jul 26, 2009 @ 10:44

    Great pictures! Thanks for sharing them!

  • Kevin Levin Jul 26, 2009 @ 7:14


    At least a few days. Plenty of research writing to do and a review of a new book on the Crater by Richard Slotkin.


    I had never heard of the JA Institute before Amsterdam. Michaela and I tried to find the home where Adams lived while in the city. We ended up in a little bookstore where I found McCullough’s biography translated. I looked through it, but couldn’t find it. The owner of the store mentioned the Institute and even called to find out his address, but unfortunately it was closed. We then decided to walk over to check it out where we found the statue in the courtyard. Here is their website: http://www.john-adams.nl/

  • Peter Carmichael Jul 26, 2009 @ 6:00

    The photo of you in front of the Statue of Stuyvescent in John Adams Institute is quite striking–what is the John Adams Institute about?

  • Peter Carmichael Jul 26, 2009 @ 5:58

    There isn’t a more civilized place in the world. I knew you would love it and will take a look at your photos in a few minutes. When you move, be sure to have a guest room for me, but a private bath isn’t necessary as I am happy to share with you and Michaela.

  • James F. Epperson Jul 26, 2009 @ 5:48

    Good to have you back. Relax from the trip for a few days—you’ve earned it!

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