Commentary: ‘A Tale of 100 Benches’

0:08: I am truly the worst person.

0:10: The first time I ever used After Effects. Back then, I was using an ancient, shitty, MacBook Pro 2013 which really wasn’t up to the job of running the latest versions of Creative Suite apps, so it took me three ice ages to render just a few seconds of a title appearing behind the boat. I only noticed the masking mistake (did you notice it?) after an hour of my MacBook whirring like a jet engine. It was 2:00am. I just didn’t have the effort left in me to go back and render the whole thing again just to fix that tiny detail.

📍 0:15: EYE Film Institute Netherlands

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: £75+. Train to Amsterdam Centraal: £20-ish. Ferry to EYE Film Institute Amsterdam: free. EYE features a large collection of Dutch films and world cinema. It’s all housed in a futuristic building with a charming restaurant and beautiful harbour/sunset views to boot.

0:21: When you forget to film so you have to tell your story thru pictures for 20 seconds.

1:01: I cringe at this attempt to be subtle about asking for people to subscribe.


📍 1:46: Haarlemmerstraat

Easily one of the best places to shop in Amsterdam. If you’re British, you’ll probably be aware of the demise of UK high streets. A similar phenomenon in the US is The Gruen Effect. The Haarlemmerstraat is the kind of independent retail utopia which represents what every British city council wishes they could replicate in their town. There’s so much to see here. And it’s not just ‘novelty shopping’ like gifts, clothing, etc. There are amazing independent grocers, too.

I have no idea how a street like this comes to be, but I hope it sticks around for a long time.

📍 1:52: Marqt and Stach

Marqt seems almost universally regarded as the best organic/wholefoods grocery store in The Netherlands. The Haarlemmerstraat store is vast and eclectic. They only take card, and don’t accept cash, which felt refreshingly forward-thinking.

Stach, meanwhile, is a deli that’s perfect for everything from coffee and sandwiches to bread and ready-to-heat-and-eat meals and salads. Their ‘menu’ changes weekly and seasonally. It’s kind of a dream, really, especially when you have those ‘can’t be bothered to book’ days.

1:54: Watch the video below for the Tony’s Chocolonely story.

2:12: Brouwerij 't IJ is a fantastic brewery, and Amsterdam is proud of it, so their beers are stocked pretty much everywhere. Grocery stores, pubs, climbing gyms. Everywhere. The brewery itself is worth a visit, too — it’s on the ground floor of a windmill, near IJ, the body of water from which the brewery gets its name. The windmill brewery is near a street called Zeeburgerpad on the Eastern docklands, which makes me think of a grill restaurant with a cozy homely interior.

📍 2:17: Concrete Matter

It’s marketed as a gift store for men, but let’s leave those gender splits back in the 50s and instead focus our energy on obsessing over all the exciting shit stocked in Concrete Matter on Haarlemmerstraat. Ornamental preserved insects, survival tools like knives and hatchets, globes, tech accessories, vintage photos and lithographs, books, maps, city guides, and most importantly: Field Notes.

📍 2:20: Six and Sons

A beautiful concept store with high-quality clothing, furniture, and accessories, with a liberal focus on Danish design. The owners basically travel Europe looking for cool shit that’s designed in a neat way and makes their lives more efficient. Then they bring that stuff to their Amsterdam store. There was a time when they served food, and sold the furniture in their café — I’m not sure they still do this, so don’t quote me.

💰 2:24: Swedish Dream Sea Salt Soap by Kala

A Rainforest Alliance-certified soap made in Rhode Island, USA.

📚 2:25: Bukken Voor Je Leven

Some dude named Steven de Peven glued a coin to the ground and then photographed people trying to pick it up and then put the photos in a book. Presidential candidate material. (Yes, there’s a coin glued to the front of the book. Remarkable.

💰 2:29: The Cool Club Classics playing cards

Creative studio The Cool Club describe this playing card deck as “a design collection featuring the 54 coolest men and women in history.” It’s an admirably diverse selection of iconic figures.

📍 2:34: Papabubble

I love a perfectly square bar of Ritter Sport: Voll-Nuss as much as the next tasteful human, but sometimes you’ve gotta put down the stuff that comes in a wrapper and pop into a place where they make the candy from scratch right there in front of you. The sweet-toothed crew at Papabubble Amsterdam do just that, combining their shop with their workspace. One of the absolute best things about Papabubbble is how they anchor colorful insignias and iconography straight thru the center of sticks of candy — think Brighton Rock. One of their most popular packages features candies adorned with Amsterdam-related semiotics. Companies can also order custom logo candies!

✏️ 2:40: Caen—Portsmouth Destination Partnership

There’s a lot wrong with this — how did I fuck up the consistency of the lines in the background so much? Why the horrible gradient? Why does the banner at the bottom have such awkward choppy endings? I’m still proud of this one, tho, ‘cause it was the first time my design work made it out of the UK and wound up on ferries between my hometown, Portsmouth (on the south coast of England), and our partner city Caen (on the northern coast of France). There was a French version, too. The brochure/poster was designed to introduce tourists to some of the key attractions in Portsmouth, including my Love Southsea Markets! Milestone.

2:43: Another attempt at humor which I cringe at. Also, why did my ‘friends’ let me have this haircut for so long?

2:44: Back in mid-2015, when Dutch Lauren first told me about resident cats being a norm in eateries across The Netherlands, I hopped on Google to find out more. There was a freshly-published article by The Telegraph delving into the phenomenon. The opening paragraph of the article kills me every time: “No-one knows why Amsterdam has a mouse problem. Maybe they’re coming for the cannabis and staying for the great cycling infrastructure.”

2:56: Show this to your parents, if they’re still around, to prove to them that you CAN clap with one hand.

3:09: The song under this montage is an unreleased Owl City track called Ridiculously Happy.

📍 3:34: Schaak Go Winkel Het Paard

3:36: This is referencing the previous vlog, Dog Bites and Sexy Pizza, in which Lauren gets bitten by a mean ol’ doggo and we have to go her injected with some anti-bad boy potion.

3:42: This bridge is called Willemsbrug, not to be confused with the far more impressive Willemsbrug in Rotterdam. Lauren was once late to something, and the bus she was on was waiting to go over the Willemsbrug, but the bridge broke down, so she had to get out and walk a whole different route.

3:46: One of the coolest things about the free ferries in Amsterdam is that they’re completely free — ‘free’ things often come with some kind of catch, but these are entirely free. If you hop aboard one, take a moment of appreciation for this fact, and lean down to give the ferry floor a pat.

📍 3:48: EYE Film Institute Netherlands

A preservation ground for Dutch and foreign films, EYE Film Institute is housed in one of the most striking modern buildings in the city, and is a remarkable sight to behold when you’re splishing your way across the water one of those gnarly free ferries. 37,000 film titles, 60,000 posters, 700,000 photos, 20,000 books, and an impressive showcase featuring cool shit like a green screen wall and a nifty lil zoetrope. The earliest stuff in the museum dates back to 1895.

3:50: Yeah, people in Amsterdam have so many bikes, they need boats just to store them all. And those boats are double-stacked, too, thanks to a nifty lil levering system. Double-decker bike boats.

📍 4:14: ‘I amsterdam’ traveling letters

If you’ve visited Amsterdam, you’ve probably wound up with a picture of yourself stood in front of the ‘I amsterdam’ letters, and you’ve MAYBE set that as your Facebook cover photo at least once. The 23.5 meter typographic sculptures appear permanently in two places: Museumplein at the back of the Rijksmuseum, and at Amsterdam Airport Schipol. The set we found is the traveling one which pops up all over the city — people still aren’t quite sure how, given that the letters don’t have legs or a consciousness.

The sculptures are an unspoken success story in marketing — they were built by Amsterdam Marketing to tie in with their ‘I amsterdam’ brand, which is presented as the official online destination for all information about the Dutch city, for visitors, residents, expats, and businesses.

4:46: Shoutout to the mismatched shoes.

4:57: Istanbul artist Memo Akten used high-definition projectors and infrared cameras to create this interactive wall, which follows your movements with pretty swathes of paint. The exhibition was titled ‘Body Paint’.

5:09: We recorded all three of the green screen adventures! Enjoy:

6:15: I’ve taken the courtesy of capturing this frame for you, should you wish to make it your wallpaper:

TravelJeeves Williams