Once or twice a year, real magic transforms the city of Amsterdam. You cannot schedule to be there when it happens; you just have to be lucky. You cannot know when and if it will happen at all. Those are the days when a real summer hits the city. It’s pure heat and sun, in a city which is usually wet, windy and cold.
Grab a bike and take a casual ride through the city, cooling you down through the breeze. You might want to stop at the Amstel river on one of the big bridges to observe the spectacle. Soon you will hear music coming from countless boats of all forms and sizes which make their way up the river slowly only to vanish into one of the smaller canals. They are so packed with people dancing and drinking that it is almost guaranteed that you will see someone fall into the water, getting dragged out more or less quickly by their laughing friends. Young boys and girls in bathing shorts are waiting for the next boat to pass to jump off the bridge while screaming as loud as they can, to quickly climb out of the water and do it all over again, making the most out of every minute of this rare hot day.
Don’t stand still too long, ride a bit further. Pass the countless coffee shops which evaporate a sweet smell that is so unique to the city and which lingers even longer in the heavy summer air. Be careful not to get dizzy. You will reach one of many parks which people have transformed into a gigantic outdoor kitchen. Sizzling BBQ’s, clinking beer bottles and the sound of music out of hundreds of small loudspeakers create an atmosphere for which the Dutch have their special word: Gezelligheid. Join some friends, grab a drink and cheers to the wonderful day as you watch the sun set slowly behind the old canal houses.
As if it was an unspoken rule, you cannot return home on a day like this until late at night. Join the people of Amsterdam, who wheel their bikes through the dark city, happy with a small sunburn on their shoulders and nose, arriving at stuffy little apartments up a flight or two of stairs. Open the windows to let a breeze inside, and fall asleep considering yourself lucky that you witnessed a magical day in Amsterdam.
The next morning brings raindrops, washing away the summer magic. It was almost a dream. Until next year, maybe.