Amsterdam Soundscape - A walk through Centraal Station

We completed six months in Amsterdam today. What better excuse than this to talk about the most interesting bit of my daily commute to office. Each paragraph in this post is synchronized with the audio. It’ll probably not work inside google reader, but should work on the site from any modern browser. Well, you’ll need to hit the play button, preferably with your headphones on (and excuse the poor sound quality):

My walk begins along the river IJ and soon gets me to the north entrance of Centraal station just past the ferries. A saxophone player occasionally plays here. You can hear him from across the road over the din of the traffic.

The metronome is the sound of the pedastrian crossing. Crossing the road gets me closer to the saxophonist. I am always in a hurry (on a weekday morning, who isn’t). One day I’ll let things slow down and let the music wash over me.

I enter Centraal Station and the saxophone player fades into the background. As the days here get colder, I find the warmth and the bustle of the station even more inviting. I also find the rush, the beginnings and the endings of many journeys, very life affirming.

The trains here announce their arrivals and departures not just acoustically but also physically. The floor under your feet rattles as the trains enter or leave the platform.

The beeping in the background is the sound of people furiosly punching their choices on the ticket vending machines. I find it amusing that we used to be intimidated by them when we moved here. The UI is offered in Dutch and English, but we often go with the Dutch default now.

The train announcements are usually in Dutch. Trains to Schiphol airport get announcements in English. The international trains get additional announcements in the language of the destination country. Usually by the same person. The results are not always pleasant to the ear…

…especially when French is being butchered.

At this point I step out into the open again, in search of the tram to the office.

October 9, 2011