Yes, we Amsterdammers can now all collectively sing, "The Party's Over." The cafe tables are taken up, the promise of the odd Indian summer day becomes a fantasy, and as the days get shorter we are greeted by more frequent gusts of wind and longer sprinkles of rain. This my friends, is when the going gets tough.
Yet, the Dutch have braved cold, dark winters for centuries without fleeing the country en masse, so perhaps it's time to take their perspective. The key to enjoying these potentially dreary months is, everybody now, "gezellig."
Shortly after arriving in The Netherlands you will hear or learn of this word. It does not translate directly, but it in part refers to that unique sense of camaraderie and coziness one feels when welcomed into a warm, friendly place on a cold night. Bundle up for a walk through the residential streets during the cold nights through the winter, and you'll see little charming scenes everywhere. Living rooms filled with people talking and sharing a bite; dining room tables lovingly set for six or more, candles burning everywhere, one living room looking more welcoming than the next. Oh, it's not hard to see, for the Dutch usually keep their street-level curtains wide open. This is expected. Why, only somebody with something to hide would need to close their curtains before bedtime.
But there is more to winter here than gezellig time with friends. And thank God, because that little scene is hard to come by for the new kids in town that don't know anyone to be gezellig with.
Enter, The Culture Season. The beauty of culture is that it's there whether your friends are organized or not. One can always venture forth alone and see or do something, and in Amsterdam there is an official "culture season" that runs from October through June, and it's the best time to catch a great performance or musical event.
For basic information about being here in October check out this site by Sharon McAllister. And while there check out her other articles as well. Sharon writes very knowledgeably about "Mokum" and her postings are full of links and hints to help you with your experience here.
If you are tired of venturing forth alone and seeking like-minded souls with whom to explore the city, I highly recommend going over to www.meetup.com and signing up for a few groups.
There. You now have no excuse. You have plenty to do, and people to do them with. Bring on the cold, bring on the dark, we have gezellig on our side!!!!!