I had absolutely no clue what I was gonna do here. How do you start an adventure like traveling to 100 different cities and shoot 100 shots? From a videography stand point I didn't know the style I was going for. Was I going to do any moving shots, time lapses, slow motion etc? I didn't know exactly what style I was aiming for.
So I just went and did it and figured I'd see what came out in the end.
If you haven't already watched it, check out the 100 shots video of Amsterdam on the home page.
So my dad picked me up at 3am to drive me to Belfast International Airport. Thanks Dad. I love you.
I had to take out a second mortgage to pay for a boggin coffee and rock hard muffin.
After that I got into a giant refrigerator of a plane and flew my ass to Amsterdam where I couldn't wait to get back outside again into the warmth. That lasted about 15 minutes after I realized the heatwave at the time would soon destroy me.
It's so easy to get from the airport to Amsterdam city center on a train and upon arrival I ferried my way over to my first stop, the A'dam Lookout.
This place has breathtaking 360 degree views of the city and has a swing that sends you over the edge of the building if you are mental enough to get on it. I'm not.
Arriving back on planet Earth, I ferried back to the main city and that sinking feeling started to creep into my mind: "Where the flip do I go and what the flip do I film?"
Well, in these situations there's only one thing to do; start walking. I spiderwebbed my way around the the north eastern part of the city center and saw some sights such as the Nemo science center and parts of the Red Light District. I recommend the Nemo center if you have had a few days in the city already and want something totally different to do instead of walking endless canals and crowded streets, especially if you have kids.
The red light district really isn't the Sodom and Gamorrah everyone thinks it is. When I was first there back in 2011, after the ultimate frisbee tournament Windmill Windup, I actually had to be told that I was in the RLD. Sure enough, on closer inspection to my surroundings I noticed the girls in the window. I had always thought it was a closed gate community. "Beware! You are now entering the red light district!" But instead you pretty much just stumble into it. Parts of it are tacky and cringey as all hell but for the most part it's pretty much just like the rest of the city. That is, except for the crowds of drunk idiots who have flown in to wreck the place for the weekend.
Anyway, the forecast was set for thunderous rain so I made the decision to stick the camera back in my backpack and find a sheltered place to have lunch.
I came across an awesome burget place called Ellis Gourmet Burger.
Loved it and the rain never came. Back on my travels it was slowly becoming clear that I wasn't up for trying anything overly fancy with my camera. Simple stationary shots are definitely my thing.
Still stopping to shoot something every 45 seconds I crawled my way to where I was staying the night. I was exceptionally excited to see this place compared to other places I've stayed as it was bound to be something a little bit different.
I'm not being paid to say that. I genuinely can't praise the place enough. If you want something a little different and just need a place to sleep then stay there. Tram 17 takes you to and from the main station quickly and easily.
After checking in I took a tactical nap for a few hours to not only recharge my phone and camera batteries, but myself.
Batteries and body slightly recharged I headed out for some food. In this neighbourhood there was really only one place I was ever going to go; Foodhallen.
Amsterdam Foodhallen is awesome. All kinds of food lined up and down a long hall in clean and well presented stalls made one of the greatest aromas you will ever smell. It wasn't an easy decision as there was so much that looked amazing, but I'm a creature of habit and when I'm in this part of Europe I always go kebab/wrap/pitta and went for a place cleverly called Pita.
Man did this place rock.
I hate that we can't get a kebab/pitta like this in the UK and Ireland. Even when you don't get any meat in your mouthful but just bread, onion and lettuce it tastes fantastic. This was the best thing I ate in Amsterdam.
Naturally, the obvious thing to do when in Amsterdam for a night is go to a basement bar and watch a Surinamese metal band, so that's what I did. Waiting for the set to start I sat with a beer and dangled my feet over the canal on Prinsengracht and watched the boats slowly sail pass. It was hear where I lazily set my camera on the ground and let it film a long canal boat sail by which ended up being the first shot of the video.
While the gig was good, I was simply too tired so I left rather early and made my way back to City Hub via the nightlife hotspot leidseplein. To be honest, this place really doesn't do it for me. It's one of the 'must see' attractions on a night out in Amsterdam but it's just another tourist trap. I got some nice footage though and was content to head to bed via a kebab shop.
When I asked for a doner kebab the guy said, "Which one? The possibilities are infinte!"
I looked at him a little bewildered and he began to explain himself.
"There's pitta, tortilla, durum..." he stopped. Three. There were three possibilities.
"Tortilla please." Then I ate that bad boy back in bed like a king.
Despite only having a few beers, I woke up the next morning in the pit of hell. A 3am start to an extremely physically exhausting day with high temperatures where I did not drink anywhere near enough water, topped off with a few beers and a bed kebab led to one awful morning.
A random, cheap, cheerful and surprisingly decent breakfast at Fifty Cafe soon sorted that.
As I was heading to the garden and market behind the Rijks museum I found myself in Vondelpark. Now I'm not one for spending any time in parks when you only have a few hours in a city. I would normally rather spend that time sucking in as much of the urban town as possible but to be fair, I absolutely loved the 45 minutes or so I spent in the park. It also led on to a lovely discovery, what I can only assume is one of the more posh areas of Amsterdam with New York style houses and apartments on tree lined streets. Seriously, even without the canals Amsterdam is still one of the most beautiful cities.
I stumbled across an absolute gem of a coffee shop; Coffee Concepts
Refueled I found myself behind the museum where life was buzzing way more on Sunday than it was on Saturday due to the market.
There were buskers, basketball players, dancers and good times all round. Schw!ng Jazz Band were rockin it.
To shoot some basketball I thought, "I'll climb up that half pipe thing there" yunno, to get a nice elevated shot. As I slid back down the halfpipe on my knees holding over 2 grands worth of camera equipment like an idiot, I thought "I'll stay down here and get a nice ground level shot."
Making my way up the tourist trap center of the city, I actually found this better for getting footage. The throngs of people and activity made for good filming. I messaged my wife to tell her I was in Dam Square and to check the live webcam video that runs 24/7 on youtube to see if she could see me. She did.
That's me leaning up against the white lion statue, watching the feed live on youtube while my wife watched from home.
The third kebab of the trip was awesome. I sat and looked out at the train station and reckoned I was pretty much done.
My wife Rachel and I were introduced to this place on a food walking tour of Jordaan the last time we were in Amsterdam, otherwise it's the sort of place we never would have found.
Sadly now it was home time, although due to the extreme exhaustion of walking many many miles 2 days in a row in very high temperatures I was relatively happy to be heading home to my wee family in cooler Ireland.
The train to the airport had 16,000 people on it so I had to break out my ninja attack moves to get a spot. As always the plane was delayed and everyone was angry.
The next day, if I had gone into hospital and said "I think there's something wrong with me" I'm pretty sure they would have agreed and hooked me up to something overnight.
I lay in bed fully clothed shivering with a pounding headache and dizziness and no, I didn't partake in any of Amsterdam's signature substances. It took me days to recover. If you want to do something like this I can't recommend water, rest and a slow pace enough. I pushed it way too hard and it knocked me on my ass.
But I loved it, I'm happy with the final video and I'm planning city number 2 already!