1 year of Amsterdam in lockdown

From my houseboat in the historic centre of Amsterdam I saw the world come to a standstill overnight.
Literally.
In the first weeks into lockdown 1, March 2020, traffic had almost disappeared altogether. So much so that we walked carelessly down the middle of the canal streets without fear of being run over by cars or bikes. We gazed up at the gable stones, an intricate ornament, or an artwork behind the brightly lit windows of a canal house, like…
Like we were tourists.
Birds and homeless people were rummaging side-by-side in the bins, looking for food that wasn’t there, since hardly anyone was out on the streets. The windows of the hotel rooms across our canal stayed dark at night. The wheeled suitcases weren’t making their typical noise on the cobblestones in the early hours of the morning. There were no airplanes skimming above the historic red tiled roofs. Not a single travel influencer posed for an Instagram selfie on the bridge with our houseboat strategically in the background like some idyllic ‘couleur locale.’
Food delivery bikes took over the streets.
Waterbirds took over the canals. 
But then the joggers came, the outdoor bootcamps and the Zoom sessions from work, held from the bench near our houseboat. The ‘coffee walks’ with a friend, a flat white in hand, on which we discovered neighbourhoods we’d never been before. The various Glühwein walking routes through the city, the warm wine hidden in Coca Cola bottles because of alcohol regulations. The pop-up boat/bench/park/sidewalk/quay picknicks. The takeaway stalls in front of restaurant façades everywhere you looked. Each stand selling its own specialty comfort food previously rejected by chefs as not being culinary: gourmet toasties, French fries with stewed meat, brioches with lobster, satay in twenty different styles…
Not only did I see my hometown turn completely inside out, I saw it cater to its locals again.
Amsterdam has not been the same since Covid-19 hit our streets. And frankly, I hope the city will never be the same again.

Text & image: © Marjan Ippel, March 2021
(Text in picture says “Everything will be alright”)

About me
My name is Marjan Ippel. I have years of experience in journalism (a.o. ELLE and ELLE Eten), script writing (a.o. Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden), and writing columns and books (a.o. Foodlingo Bijbel) – partly illustrated with my own photographs. Since day 1 of the first lockdown in The Netherlands (March 2020) I write a Corona Diary on this website.

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