Bos en Lommer. Not Your Typical Amsterdam.

Our third Airbnb address in as many months was in Bos en Lommer. Or BoLo as it’s called nowadays. There is nothing much in BoLo. Most tourists probably never venture this far west but maybe that in itself is enough of a reason to give it a go. At first glance it appears uninviting, nondescript even, but delve a little deeper and BoLo doesn’t seem too bad at all.

It’s green. We lived around the corner from the Erasmus park. Another of Amsterdam’s local, pocket-sized breathing spaces. We always took what we called ‘the pretty route’ through the park to the health food shop on the Bos en Lommerweg. Past Hildo Krop’s fanciful statues on the vierwindenstreekbrug, past dog walkers, joggers and bikers, the polar bear, and the kiddies zoo. I loved the reflections of flats and trees in the Erasmus canal; on grey winter days, the air filled with a smoky quality, the view smudged and vague; swans and water birds paddling amongst moored boats and branches arching gracefully over the water.

The Bos en Lommerweg was equally ordinary, equally lovely. Turkish shops, greengrocers and bakeries. A gem of a bookshop. A local library filled with old Turkish men drinking coffee out of paper cups and young Turkish men on the computers. The bookshop walls were scrawled with marker pen messages. ‘What are they?’, I asked the man behind the counter; ‘Messages from people who’ve performed here. We’ve had more than 500 performances in the seven years we’ve been open. It’s our wall of fame’, he told me.

Until recently Bos en Lommer was known as a problem area. A melting pot of more than a hundred different nationalities, it was downtrodden and  crime-ridden. We noticed nothing of this. We loved the community feel, the chats with locals, being a regular in ‘Local Hero’ – the coffee shop opposite our supermarket, glimpses of Amsterdam School architecture and just being out of the oh-so-busy centre. Amsterdam is so much more than tilting houses with gables, cheese shops and red lights.

Bos en Lommer is the real deal. Nothing and everything. And well worth a visit.

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De Nieuwe Boekhandel. Bos en Lommerweg 227 http://www.denieuweboekhandel.nl

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