Ah, Amsterdam, just how much do I love you? (Answer – a lot). And to think, I never really wanted to move here. Paris was always my spiritual home and the city of my dreams. Now I never want to leave Amsterdam and it has me fully in its grasp. And, I hope it never lets go. It’s just a general feeling I have. As I cycle around the city, I have to stop and pinch myself as I see how beautiful Amsterdam is on a daily basis. Sure, other cities are beautiful too, but Amsterdam has so much as a total package. So I thought I would recap the top 10 reasons I love living in this wonderful city. It’s important for me to remind myself how lucky I am. So, in no particular order here is a quick overview of my reasons I am so positive about this city, with the selection of Amsterdam Things I love.
Cycling culture and other Amsterdam things I love
Look at them all on their bikes. Look how happy they are. Except in the driving rain….I love being out and about in the city on my bike. It’s so easy to get around and so healthy too. It means less people using their cars, so the air in the city is less polluted. Cities used to be built around the needs of cars. Well not any more! Cities across the world are looking at the Dutch model to redesign their cities for the bike. Cycling is so engrained in the Dutch culture. The nice thing is that all the car drivers are also cyclists, so generally take great care when driving, making it safer for everyone.
The upside of cycling
The upside is unlimited. It’s ecological, fast, healthy, handy, economical and it just looks and feels so damn good. You see someone you know? Ring that bell and give a massive ‘Hoi hoi!’ to let everyone around see how many local friends you have! And cycling is so handy. You ned to cycle across town in a rush? The bicycle is the best way every time. Everyone has a bike. Why didn’t other countries go as nuts for bikes as the Dutch? It cannot be just because of the flatness of the country. What do you think? Do you love your bike? I know you do.
The Downside of cycling.
There aren’t any downsides to having a huge culture of cycling. The infrastructure of bike lanes means it is statistically safer than cycling in other countries. No, the only downsides to cycling in The Netherlands are rain and theft. Rain, because cycling in horizontal sheet rain means you are soaked to the bone in seconds. Yes, you can try to cycle with an umbrella, but what is the point? The Dutch should all be world champion kite surfers by now. (NB. The female world Champion is Dutch).
The other downside is loss of theft of your bike. It’s a really bad feeling when it dawns on you that your bike has been stolen. It feels like you have been sucker punched and it always happens when you really, really are in a rush to be somewhere. It’s a lock it or lose it world. But, even when you do lock it, you can still lose it. Bike theft is rife, so buy the best lock you can as the cheap ones invite thieves. That is especially true for owners of bakfiets. These are a perennial favourite for bike thieves as they have a far higher value. We read posts about bakfiet thefts on a daily basis. So lock it to something with a chain so thick you can barely lift it.
I love a good brown bar. The older and less changed the better. I have a few favourites and if you drink by the bar you soon end up in conversations with locals. It is like a step back in time. A few nice beers and sometimes some great food too. It’s not really about the drinks and the food though. For me, it is all about the interior and how it feels. We are constantly on the look out to discover ones we have not visited yet. It is always nice to imagine how they were all those years ago when they opened and the kind of people that used to drink in them.
I need to discover more great brown bars, the more oldy-worldy the better. What is your favourite brown bar and why?
This is a tolerant society. It is. Yes, there are pockets of intolerance, but on the whole it might be one of the most tolerant countries in the world. The Dutch have a long history of tolerance. What’s good nowadays is that same sex couples can safely walk around and no one bats an eyelid. There are still many countries in the world where that is banned. In other ways too, the tolerance of soft drugs was decades ahead of other countries. No one ever died from smoking too many joints. Though the rules are changing,
Amsterdam is changing and you cannot fight impermanence. With tourists banned from going in coffee shops in the near future, will we be faced with more drunkenness on the streets? Countries including some states in the US have realised that legalising soft drugs is a good idea and it can be taxed. Tolerance permeates through the Dutch society and it is a good thing and I like it. It’s not perfect. There are always ways to improve things, but in general I think we can all be hopeful as we move forwards.
Our Lord in the Attic
I’ll be looking below at the Amsterdam museums, but wanted to give this place some special attention. I thought I knew Amsterdam pretty well, but it took me years to hear about this great place. I now take all my visitors there. Our Lord in the Attic is a beautifully preserved piece of Amsterdam history. Once you see it you can never forget it. Take the audio tour and you will be projected back in time. You can see how the Dutch lived in the Golden Age and how they managed to worship. Just stunning and a must see museum. I am not a religious person, but I never get bored of visiting this wonderful Amsterdam museum.
Is there a job as a haring taster? If there is, that would be my ideal job. I love haring and can hardly resist from buying it when walking around town. And who doesn’t love bitterballen – the hottest food on the planet. There is so much more to Dutch food than those two well known classics. A delicious pea soup in the winter is a joy. Or what about a delicious stampot ? Trust me, try more Dutch food and you will learn to love it too. It is very tasty and more varied than you might think. Here is our overview of Dutch food.
I have elected myself the Minister for Dutch Cuisine for the expat community in Amsterdam. There are many great places to eat Dutch food and here are some of our favourite Dutch restaurants in Amsterdam. In the coming months, I will be making some videos about cooking Dutch food, so we can all try more of it and understand how delicious it really is. Lekker!
A wonderful Amsterdam canal Cruise
For me, Amsterdam is all about its canals. I just find them so beautiful, especially at two very specific times. When there is no wind and the night is very calm, the canals are sometimes like a perfect mirror. This allows for some iconic photos as the canal side houses are perfectly reflected on the water. The other time, of course, is being out on the canals with friends on a boat. Seeing Amsterdam from the water is pure pleasure. The pretty city is so charming and touring around the canals on a boat is the best way to appreciate it. A canal cruise might be my absolute favourite activity in Amsterdam. The city is so beautiful and a lazy tour around the canals in sunny weather, with a cold beer in hand is just a perfect moment.
Amsterdam has some world class museums. There is no doubt about that. The Rijksmuseum is one of my favourite museums in the world. Yes, it took a long time to be renovated, but the result is just stunning. Then you have the Van Gogh museum right next door on the Museumplein. Again, a hugely popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Have you been to the Hermitage ? That too is a fantastic place to see exhibitions and The Golden Age room is just stunning. Amsterdam has a huge range of other museums for us to enjoy. One of my favourites is The Grachten Museum – the history of the canals museum. It is in a beautiful location and has stunning displays to show you how the canals were designed and built. What is your favourite Amsterdam museum ? Here is a list of our favourite museums in Amsterdam.
The beautiful buildings
Amsterdam has some wonderful buildings that are really well preserved considering how old they are. I often remind myself to stop, look up and appreciate the buildings. There are little details you can see that you would otherwise miss if you do not take the time. Sometimes there is the year of construction. Sometimes there are small designs which I believe relate to the trade of the original owner or their guild. Whatever the reason, take time to appreciate them as they are uniquely beautiful. And it is not just the outsides. The Dutch are as proud as the Italians about their interior design.
Amsterdam used to have around 600 festivals per year, in other words the agenda was non stop all year long. Well, it used to have and one day it will again too. There was a constant stream of really great events to attend around the city and there really is something for everyone. From the arts to massive raves, from live music to rolling food trucks. The list is seemingly endless. We attend as many as we can as they are usually well organised and fun. The big daddy of them all for us is King’s Day. That is one of the biggest parties in the world and there is an endless agenda of fun things to do. We cannot wait for the next one !
Undoubtedly one of the main reasons I love living in this city is the Dutch people. As I look around and observe them, I have only good things to say about them. You can read a longer article about why I love the Dutch here. They always seem to be in a good mood and open to having a laugh. The Dutch seem to exude confidence and it looks like they are hard working. They seem to have a work life balance that keeps them happy. I do hold them directly responsible for my Dutch still being so lousy. If they weren’t so good at English, I would be fluent by now ! In conclusion, as you can tell, I am very positive regarding the Dutch! Love’em!
So there you have it. Just a selection of the top 10 Amsterdam Things I love and why I love living in this great city. I hope you do too.
Keep an eye on all things happening in the pretty city with International Locals Amsterdam.