Commentary: ‘The Water Fountain Dog’

0:00: Stuff on the wall behind me includes a Toy Story 3 poster, a couple of Amsterdam artworks, a minimalistic piece inspired by The Blue Umbrella, a map of the Isle of Wight (an island just south of my island hometown, Portsmouth), a couple of my design commissions for local events, the card insert which came with my Amazon Kindle, Lindt chocolate packaging, and a postcard featuring a photo of Grand Central Station in New York.

📍 0:13: Vondelpark

A 57-hectare public park in Amsterdam-Zuid (Amsterdam South). Perfect for walks, runs, picnics, chill-out sessions, slacklining, board games, reading, strolls with your doggo, and mildly unoriginal marriage proposals.

0:19: Joost van den Vondel, perhaps the most prominent Dutch poet of all time, doesn’t just have Amsterdam’s biggest park bearing his namesake — he was also featured on the Dutch five guilder banknote between 1950 and 1990, before the whole Euro thing started happening.

Joost van den Dollar

0:46: This spawned the birth of one of the stupidest inside jokes Lauren and I perpetuate. It involves baskets, sheep, Judaism, and biscuits. It makes very little sense.

1:29: Whenever Lauren and I lose one another in crowds, we yell ‘MACAW!’ to find one another again. We also do it when we’re stood next to one another. We don’t really need a reason to do it.

1:30: Here’s the song:

📍 1:49: American Hotel, Amsterdam

In The Fault in Our Stars (the book), Hazel and Gus stay at Hotel De Filosoof (literally ‘Hotel Philosopher’), and they do in the film, too, but the exterior you see is the American Hotel on Leidseplein. Hotel De Filosoof, at the time of writing, has been closed for quite a while.

📍 2:00: Sawing man sculpture

One of a number of anonymous sculptures around in Amsterdam in this style, the lil dude sawing away at the tree has been in place since 1989 — it blows my mind that an iron figure affixed to a tree can remain in place for three deacdes, but then, anything is possible when weed is legalized.

📍 2:50: MENDO Amsterdam

If you love books focused on photography, fashion, travel, lifestyle, cuisine, interior design, architecture, and graphic design, MENDO should be at the top of your Amsterdam itinerary. It’s often dubbed a ‘candy store for book aficionados’. MENDO curate the most beautiful and intriguing books, and the store’s interior is a masterpiece in itself. They also have a few collector’s editions on display in the store. My favorite bookstore ever.

📚 3:06: Logo Modernism

Logo Modernism was my gateway drug into a TASCHEN addiction — everything the German art book publisher touches is gold. This huge orange behemoth of a book nets together over 6,000 logos crafted between 1940 and 1980, interluded with case studies into some of the most iconic projects of the era. My favorite being the Mexico Olympic Games branding of 1968.

3:27: Here’s what I knew: the Annie Leibovitz was gargantuan, and the Mendo website showed you pictures of Post-It Notes and iPads next to books to give you a sense of scale.

Here’s what I didn’t know until now: they’ve since updated the website so your mouse cursor turns into various objects, again, to give a sense of scale. Unbelievably cool.

The book is 476 pages long, measured 590 x 690 x 90 millimeters, and weighs 39kg. Oh, and it’ll cost you $2,500. Impressive.

4:03: Dutch people are born on bikes — they more or less cycle straight out of the womb. The number of bikes in Amsterdam has actually exceeded the population, before, and there are 400 kilometers of cycling paths. For every car in the city, there are roughly four bikes. And there are roughly 7,800 bike parking spaces around Amsterdam Centraal (the central train station), but more than 8,200 bikes are parked there at any one time, on average.

4:13: “We started snapping away at those bikes” is one of the strongest signifiers of how scripted my first five vlogs were. I felt like I had to explain everything — even transitions between video footage and still photos. Terrible.

4:23: Notice the way I land on the letter ‘t’ in these words — photo, pretty, city, etc. I recorded these videos before I fully accepted the American twinge in my voice, and just rolled with what feels natural to me, which leans more towards a ‘d’ pronunciation. Now, it’d be phodo, priddy, and cidy.

4:38: Photography time!

5:39: I later learned that they were actually Lithuanian. Here’s the photo:

📍 6:00: De Klimmuur Amsterdam

A climbing gym with big ol’ walls, a bouldering hall, a bar serving food and beer, assorted other exercise equipment, and a really cool exterior which you can spot from the train between Schipol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal. The building looks like it’s sinking.

6:33: I was in the midst of my pro-Android phase and we were making jokes about Beme’s existence. Times were hard.

7:10: Lauren and I = Frik & Ellen. That’s like, our stage name. Because frikandel are these Dutch sausage-type things which are on the menus of any junk food place in The Netherlands.

TravelJeeves Williams