Amsterdam Cafe Culture

I was walking through the streets of Amsterdam the other day – it was sweltering hot – actually the temperatures constantly surprise me. I have always thought of the Netherlands as a cold rainy place. Well let me tell you – the summers can be as hot as those in New Zealand. Day after day of sunshine, and often quite humid. On those hot summer days Amsterdam is a hive of activity, every one and their dog (literally) is out and about, strolling along the canals or sitting alongside the canals at a small cafe, sipping a beer and chatting away, soaking up the atmosphere. On this particular day I had stopped to glance at some cards in a little shop just across from one of the many bridges and as I browsed the delightful sounds of a French horn wafted through the open door. It was clearly live music and being very partial to a bit of brass my curiosity got the better of me.

So I ventured out and I could see a crowd forming along the railing of the bridge. People in the front row were hanging over the side peering into the water, some with cameras and others with selfie sticks. The atmosphere was electric and the music oh so moving. And there he was,  a colorful character in an eclectic little dingy kitted out with an organ, French horn, harmonica and drums. Literally a one man band. It was so charming and the music clearly moved people – me included! I think the combination of the music (particularly the harmonica), the weather and the sense of community really produced a very special moment.

When he’d finished he hung out an old fishing pole with little a collection bag at the end, the kind you see in churches, and people gave generously.  I really enjoyed his offering, it turned a lovely day into a special day. So thank you Mr Music Man.



So I have depicted Amsterdam Cafe culture in the piece above. Those iconic buildings, lots of bikes and people relaxing by the canals. It’s an Indian Ink on old Dutch map paper.  In addition I have used Ecoline Brush pens in 5 different greys. The paper size is 109×69 cm.  This piece is for sale.




  1. I’m glad I read your entire article because I was wondering what the ghost lines in red were! Very nice as usual Sarah!

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