15 August 2013

Good Times in Amsterdam's Parks

A concert beamed to the park, so you can BBQ and enjoy some high culture 
We went to see a concert in the park last night. It was part of the appropriately named 'Concerts in the Park' series. The event was a live big-screen projection of a concert at the Concertgebouw. The music was a mix of classical and opera, with some contemporary and theatrical flourishes that made it enjoyable, plus the fluid camerawork animated the proceedings, making us feel right up close.

But the most enjoyable part was sitting on a blanket in a woody field, amongst like-minded strangers, eating pistachios with my wife as the sun set. The music was excellent, though I'm not really a fan, there was enough to keep me entertained, plus we could chat, smell the barbecue, people watch, and generally relax. And it was free. So yeah, a complete win.

There are some things the Dutch do better than other places (cycle paths, decriminalization of marijuana and tulips are examples that spring to mind). Laidback public events with a broad appeal is also on the list.

There were dogs and kids and barbecues and general calm. People of all sorts - dates, friend clusters, families, rebellious youths, single folks - were represented. And general calm and tidiness pervaded. They make it seem so easy.

Camping in the local park? Ideas rarely get better than that
So that was Wednesday, and this weekend there's an even cooler example. It's a community camping trip happening in Oosterpark, the main park of our area.

A classical concert in a park is, as I discovered last night, pretty great times. But a full-fledged camping adventure that's a five minute ride away in the centre of Amsterdam? That's another level of excellence.

Before you cancel all your other plans and make your way to Ossterpark, you should know that it's only open to people who live in the neighborhood. We do live in the neighborhood, and are intrigued by all the great activities that seem to be planned. We've talked seriously about going, but we possess not one single lick of camping equipment. There is a website where you can apparently borrow equipment from strangers, but I feel bad posting: "I don't own a single piece of camping equipment, except for an old flashlight, does anyone want to provide me with literally everything I need for some camping?"

So we won't be spending the night in the park, though I expect we'll make our way down there to wander around and enjoy being part of the action.

But also, if anyone has everything one might need for camping and wants to lend all of it to me, please let me know. I'll happily make use of it for the weekend.

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