Ea­monn O’Neal

Stockport Times West - - FESTIVE GIFTS -

IT’S been de­scribed as the world’s most lib­eral city and pos­si­bly has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a lit­tle too easy-go­ing.

I’ve just spent a few days in Am­s­ter­dam, my first visit, and I loved it.

It has more than 150 canals and 1,250 bridges so ‘up yours’ Venice.

There was no ob­vi­ous fleecing of tourists so ‘ner-ner-ne-ner-ner’ to Rome.

It’s over­flow­ing with mag­nif­i­cently di­verse cul­ture so ‘stick that in your pipe and smoke it’ Florence.

And there are thou­sands of happy cy­clists so look and learn Manch­ester. WHILE a Rem­brandt has been adorn­ing the wall in the Ri­jksmu­seum, a Len­non was hang­ing in my mum’s liv­ing room.

John Len­non once painted a por­trait of my mum and it had pride of place above the set­tee.

I know what you’re think­ing, John Len­non was a mu­si­cian not an artist, but I’m talk­ing about an old fam­ily friend, a hum­ble fam­ily man from Wythen­shawe,

I can’t be­lieve it’s taken me all th­ese years to visit Am­s­ter­dam but I’ll def­i­nitely be go­ing back, after all it’s only a 50- minute flight from Manch­ester.

In some ways it’s a city of con­tra­dic­tions.

Rem­brandt’s Night Watch dom­i­nates the Ri­jksmu­seum, Anne Frank’s poignant story is re-lived in her ware­house hide­away, while pros­ti­tutes, pro­tected by law, flaunt them­selves in flu­o­res­cent win­dows along both banks of a nar­row canal.

Also, at 11pm, when many peo­ple are just head­ing out in ci­ties around the world, the last din­ers are leav­ing Am­s­ter­dam’s restau­rants who hap­pened to share the same name as the Bea­tle.

We said goodbye to our John Len­non last Fri­day at his fu­neral in St An­thony’s Church.

His lovely wife Joan, their 10 chil­dren and huge ex­tended fam­ily as they close up for the night.

A canal tour of the city is a great way to learn how Am­s­ter­dam be­came a world trad­ing power and how ge­nius en­gi­neers found ways to hold back the tide and build a city on es­sen­tially swampy flat­lands. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing place.

My over­all im­pres­sion was of a friendly, laid­back place where peo­ple, whether na­tives or tourists, were rub­bing along very hap­pily while the ubiq­ui­tous cy­clists came at you from ev­ery di­rec­tion.

There’s some­thing very at­trac­tive about a city where the pre­dom­i­nant street sounds are bi­cy­cle bells rather than blar­ing car horns. gath­ered to cel­e­brate his life.

John called him­self the King of No­bod­ies and yet peo­ple trav­elled from around the world, in­clud­ing China, to pay their re­spects, hav­ing been touched by his kind­ness and hu­mour.

Am­s­ter­dam – a city of cy­clists

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