For the last few days I've been in Amsterdam, taking a break from writing and talking about City. I'd forgotten how beautiful Amsterdam is.
For the first time I visited the Museum Geelvinck-Hinlopen, a late seventeenth-century mansion facing the Herengracht.
With its secluded garden and luxurious rooms, it provided a memorable glimpse into a time when Amsterdam was one of the wealthiest cities on the planet. But as I was walking round, I noticed a small white plaque on a piano in the Blue Room. In wonderfully ornate script, it proclaimed that the makers of that piano were John Broadwood & Sons, who were based in Great Pulteney Street, near Golden Square, London - the city that would soon take over the role as the commercial capital of the world.
If you're planning a trip to Amsterdam, I would recommend Proeverij 274 as a great place to eat (thanks to Matt Muir for that tip), and for a really superb cup of coffee, Screaming Beans. They sell delicious almond cookies too.
I forgot to mention before I went away that the Guardian published my review of Taras Grescoe's Straphanger, an excellent whistle-stop tour of world cities and their transport systems. Apparently, Americans now spend nine years of their lives sitting in their cars, and the pollution they produce kills 30,000 US citizens each year. You can read the review here.
When I got back from Amsterdam, a very nice review of City was waiting for me, by Annick Labeca on Urban Lab Global Cities. In it she admits to having read the book four times! I'm impressed... Also on City, I did a Q & A with Sherin Wing for Metropolis Magazine. That was posted online yesterday and you can read it here. There's also a slideshow of some of my urban photos at the end.
Oh, and here are some of my photos of Amsterdam on Flickr. Enjoy...