Amsterdam is a city I know so well, going back to my first visit about 1987.
That was for a hockey tournament in nearby Haarlem, and we stayed on the coast in Zandvoort, but made sure we had a day out in the big city too. Most of my visits have been pure leisure and pleasure, but a few business trips came along as well.
My last visit was in January 2015 as a Christmas present for my then partner, who had never been there. We got a great Airbnb near Westerpark and lived more like locals than you can in a hotel. The Radisson SAS (now Radisson Blu) was always my favourite hotel to stay in.
It is walking distance from Centraal Station, but in a quiet street (Rusland) and sheltered from the nearby bustle.
I had read an Anja de Jager book from the local library sometime before the pandemic shut it, and I decided to renew the acquaintance once online buying became my only option. A Death at the Hotel Mondrian certainly brought back memories of so many happy times in Amsterdam – with Dr D, with the Last Wife, with Junior, with my colleagues at IAG International, and on my own.
De Jager writes in English, but is a native Dutch speaker and whilst she is now based in England, she used to live in Amsterdam. This book is one of a series featuring Amsterdam police detective Lotte Meerman.
Like many crime novels, the main character risks irritating me because she does things which I know the police would never dream of doing in real life. However, this lack of authenticity is submerged into good plots and other strengths in the way de Jager develops the character. The real life of Amsterdam woven into the story line is also a positive feature*.
When we reach the post pandemic phase and travel resumes, Amsterdam would certainly be a place high on my list for a quick and easy escape. The list is long, of course. How will I choose?
ⓒ iain taylor, 2021
* Can you see that I spent years doing analysis of literature when I was a student? Joking apart, it is one reason I seldom read “serious” literature now. I read piles and piles of classic stuff in English, French and Russian back then. Occasionally it was interesting, but mostly it was what I had to read for the courses, and often the compulsory element to it eliminated any enjoyment.