My Favorite City

I'm feeling (slightly) rejuvenated after two nights in Amsterdam, which has fast become my favorite city in the world. In a lot of ways it feels like New York--everyone is hustling, it's very diverse, and you can get everywhere you want to go with public transportation--but at a tenth of the size, it's a lot more manageable. It's also unbelievably beautiful and historic and mesmerizing. Throughout the day, the light changes on the canals and highlights the incredible architecture. It's absolutely entrancing. I could sit and watch the people and boats go by all day and be perfectly content.

I stayed in an apartment belonging to the sister of a new fan I met on tour this summer, and it was a gorgeous, airy space right in the Museum Quarter. Naturally, I paid a visit to the nearby Rijskmuseum and was blown away by their iconic Rembrandts. They have paintings in their collection from the 1600s that look as if they could be photographs, and I've never seen anything so vibrant and detailed from that era. I filmed a session for a Dutch website in a quaint neighborhood, stopped in a bookshop to pick up some new reading material (an old Dutch novel called The Evenings, which is apparently their equivalent of The Catcher In The Rye but was only just translated to English for the first time last year), enjoyed meals by the canals, and had drinks with old friends and some new ones I met on this trip. Mostly, though, I engaged in my favorite Amsterdam activity: walking. I covered about 12 miles on foot in total and soaked in as much of the city as I could. There aren't a lot of places that could tempt me away from NYC, but this is one of them.

Before I got to Amsterdam, though, I had to survive the end of my Scandinavian run. That meant saying goodbye to Otis Gibbs in Eksjö and then driving to Jönköping (where I played an afternoon gig at the University and was pleasantly surprised to find about 80 people turned out) before heading 4 hours south to Malmö, where I performed a nighttime show with Andrew Combs. I've been a fan of Andrew's music for a while, but we'd never met, so it was exciting to play with him and a pleasure to return to Folk å Rock, a great venue/cafe/record store that I performed at earlier in the year with The Mastersons. Malmö is a beautiful town and I had fun going out for drinks with Andrew after the gig and getting to know him, but it's gotta be the most stressful city to drive in in Sweden, so I was happy to turn in my rental car the next morning and hope a train to Copenhagen. I ran into Andrew at the station, so we traveled together (mostly in silence and whispers, because we accidentally got on the Quiet Car). Copenhagen was a whirlwind (I think I was there for less than 24 hours), but the show was a blast. I used what little free time I had in Copenhagen to explore Christiania, a neighborhood founded in the 70's to be free and independent of the Danish government. It's a mix of bizarre, tiny, wooden homes and workshops and trails through wooded areas along the water. It's known as the place where anything goes and is a notorious spot for drugs among other things. You're not supposed to take photos there, so I kept my camera turned off for the most part, but the walk to and from was pretty, even if the area itself got to feeling a little creepy and isolated.