When they first asked me to join a cycleseeing tour through the Amsterdam Area I was still wearing a knee support after falling on King’s Day. Being able to join the local influencer tour was, indeed, a great motivator. Biking is – without a doubt – the best way to explore Amsterdam, both the city center and the wider metropolitan area and I was eager to try two new routes developed by Cycleseeing Amsterdam, one heading towards the Amsterdam Beach and the other exploring the area where I live and work, the glorious Amsterdam Noord.
“We should ask Ammar what the traditional games played in Egypt are. Then we teach them to the kids of Bijlmer and arrange a play-day for the vernissage of the mural” I said to Anouk while we were setting the dinner table and a full white moon was shining on the wide, iconic windows of Amsterdam’s buildings.
On that afternoon, Anouk had shown me the ‘ghetto of Amsterdam’ and I couldn’t get over all those kids from various ethnicities playing together, or their laughs echoing over the lake that majestically mirrored the 11-storey wall that soon would have been painted by Ammar Abo Bakr.
Amsterdam is unlike any other city for the Iranian activist-artist brothers Icy & Sot.
Amsterdam is where they had their first solo exhibition abroad in 2011, taking their first step into the international art scene. It was an internationally acclaimed first step at that, which eventually let them to escape the persecution and censorship they experienced in their home country.
Blessed by the sun, we made the most of this very “undutch” day by taking a tour of the beautiful gardens, the picturesque towns, and the historic castles and fortresses that once protected Amsterdam.
Those fortresses formed a 135-kilometre-long ring of fortifications that have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Everyone else would have simply moved just a little bit further. Everyone but the Dutch people.
Stubborn Dutch people have, instead, waged a war with His Majesty the North Sea, fighting, and eventually taming, the water with an impressive system of dams and dikes, which has been declared as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.