I Amsterdam

I think it was in March when I said Darling, I signed up for the Amsterdam Marathon.

Exactly two weeks ago, on a sunny Sunday on October 15th was the day of the big race. The day when all those countless training hours and certain moments of positive stress were measured.

But, this is not a marathon report, though I might write one next. This is my compact tip guide to Amsterdam. So, hop onboard and let the canal tour begin.

There are cities I like (Reykjavik for example), cities I love for their intense beat (New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong) and cities where I can picture myself living one day (Berlin, Copenhagen and, as the latest discovery: Amsterdam). The atmospheric waterways, numerous flower shops and flower markets, the leaning old narrow buildings, broad biking lanes and the fact that everyone bikes everywhere. Amsterdam is a verdant city which exudes art and interesting vibes.

My favourite thing was strolling along the canals, both in the soft and peaceful afternoon light and in the evening time, before and after dinner. The many canals have had the task of keeping the city above water. Also, the windows in the gorgeous apartments right by the canals are so huge that one gets a little glimpse of the local décor trends.

After a long walk what would better hit the spot than some gin? Let’s head toward the gin distillery Wynand Fockink (Pijlsteeg 31). It is a small tasting house established in 1679, serving jenever and liqueurs. There are guided tours with tastings during the weekends: a strong recommendation. We booked the tour online a few hours before it started and it was a fascinating experience. The host was superb, and we got to learn the stories behind many of the bottles: for example, there are drinks for all the phases of a love affair, from courtship to celebrating a new born baby.  In Dutch, by the way, pregnancy is referred to as Hansje in de Kelder. It is interesting to compare idioms in different languages.

The foodie in me rejoiced of the wide selection of Indonesian restaurants. A special recommendation goes to the rice table, Rijsttafel, at MAX Amsterdam (Herenstraat 14): the menu includes several Indonesian specialties, such as a spicy aubergine salad, a vegetable curry and seasoned seabass filet on a banana leaf. Yummy food in a warm atmosphere.

If you have time: visit De Hallen (Hannie Dankbaarpassage 47), a cultural concentration with a cinema, bike rental and repair store, fashion shops and a food market. The food hall offers flavours from dim sum to Lebanese and Vietnamese delicacies. The food was tasty and fresh but how the logistics were organized there could afford to be improved.

The last tip: the TSC Amsterdam Marathon. The route was scenic, the cheering was energetic and the weather in Mid-October was gorgeous with sunshine and around 25 degrees Celsius. There were even some families who had set up their own refuelling stands for the runners with bananas and water. And if you are not running and have a good three hours to yourself, head to the Van Gogh Museum. The doorman was arrogant, the masterpieces are purely impressive.

This January light

I love this light right now. It’s bright, beautiful, pure and slightly magical. There’s something eternal in it. It’s cold outside at the moment and when I take a deep breath of the cold and brisk air it feels like my brains can breathe and new ideas can spring.

January is the time for many of making big promises for the new year. I didn’t make that many really. More like I promised that I’ll try to do my own best when it comes to certain things, like exercising. I’ll go when I can and when I want to. And I believe I’ll want to because of how it makes me feel. I fully endorse the saying that sweat is the gift of the body to the soul.

I did set certain goals for the upcoming year. I’ll try to travel when I can and here I’ll definitely count both big and small trips and adventures. Bookings haven’t been done yet but on the travel wish list are for example doing part of the Archipelago Trail by bike, a road trip to new terrains in Europe and popping in Berlin and Mänttä. Besides travelling I’ll run, by the sea and a marathon in the fall, if all goes well. It will/would be my seventh but crossing the finishing line is never certain and one must be humble before the distance. Or at least I have to be.  And starting ice swimming and trying sailing are on the wish/plan list as well. I wish you’ll have a year filled with magical light.


Solutions sports – about running

I planned to write about travels and training. And I will, soon. But today I felt like saying a few words about running.

I realized that running is my solutions sport. While running I get some of my best thoughts and more importantly find solutions and answers to things that might have been puzzling me during the day. And most importantly, I feel pure happiness. I end up smiling to baby bunnies, seagulls and swallows chasing each other.

I claim or believe that after 15 kilometers you see things more clearly. The bundle of the day unravels. You feel powerful but light at the same time. Though I must add the trick for me is to run outside and if possible by the water.

To me in running the monotony becomes meditation. I run in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of states of mind. An evening run can make a good day perfect and a tough day good again.

Nowadays it feels like almost every second person runs. And writes about it. I haven’t read that many books about the subject, excluding Murakami’s depiction and Maaninkavaara by Miika Nousiainen. I just run.

There was a time I ran a bit too much. And a time I couldn’t run. And so now that I’m able to I kind of want to rejoice every sprint and leap. Because I can.

I guess it can easily start sounding a bit corny, the talk about the bliss of running. I realize the danger but I want to write a bit about it anyway. Because I’ve ran for 12 years, started from a few kilometres and went up to 42 and during this way I’ve found a passion and countless solutions. Plus seen the baby bunnies.

A few pictures from along the routes.




And, one motivation line I like is Nike’s Just do it. Living up to it or at least feeling it in Oslo on a Sunday in September last fall, after the 42 k of Saturday.