We have American visitors in town today. We want to show them a good time, so we’re taking them to the library. The magnificent new (2007) Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (public library Amsterdam) is not yet a major tourist attraction, though we’re doing our best to make it so.
It’s a wonder any internet cafe can survive in this city, when the library offers it all. Backpackers who arrive at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station suffering internet withdrawal need only turn left, walk a couple of hundred metres past some roadworks and the floating Chinese restaurant (a candidate for the ‘ugliest building in town’ award), and within a few minutes they can be online for free.
Everybody is welcome. Bring your own laptop or use the library ones. Read the world’s newspapers and magazines. Sit in a sound shell and listen to music (the jazz collection is particularly impressive). If you prefer live music, go next door and see what the Conservatorium students are up to. There are often excellent free concerts on, performed by young musicians of prodigious talent.
For a meal, coffee or a drink, there’s the restaurant below, but better still is the seventh floor branch of La Place, a cheap, fast (but fresh) food outlet. Outside on the roof terrace is the best birds’ eye view of the city you can get without being a bird.