Life on the canals

united-kingdomSo, I recently went to the Netherlands for the first time in my life. The main intention was to meet up with some friends while I was there, but I was torn between playing the tourist and trying to experience the city as a true Amsterdammer. When it came down to it (the decision was literally made on the flight from Heathrow), I decided that the latter would be more beneficial. I’d often toyed with the idea of moving to the Netherlands, though my Dutch would have to improve a lot before that could happen; so I decided it was time to take it for a test drive.

When I first arrived, it was already dark. I bought myself a plastic beepy public transport card (that’s what it’s called, PBPTC for short) and boarded a train from Schiphol to the centre of Amsterdam. There I waited for a good ten minutes at what turned out to be the wrong tram stop; though when I finally located the right one, it just so happened that a tram had derailed and all traffic had been diverted. So I had to play a fun little game of ‘find the tram’ with my suitcase in a crowded, unfamiliar city. Eventually I located my tram and beeped my PBPTC. The man at the station at Schiphol had made it abundantly clear that you were supposed to both check in and check out every time you used a tram. It turned out that I’d boarded using an exit-only door, which was blocked with barriers I couldn’t get past. So I had to get off and get back on again. As I’d already checked in, I didn’t beep my card again, which led to me being questioned by an angry Dutch man who thought I was trying to cheat the system. He checked my card and was very apologetic when he realised I was telling the truth, but… still. Not what I needed.

When I finally managed to locate my hotel, I have to admit, I was very pleased. It was very fancy. Although when I got there I was so knackered, I paid €3 for a bottle of Coke. Not my proudest moment, but needs must!

IMG_2975The rest of the trip is a bit of a blur, really… I did some wandering around the city and met up with some friends (which is one of the main reasons I travel, quite honestly) and ate a lot of fantastic food (another of the main reasons I travel)… though considering most of it was sushi or tacos, I can’t really say I tried anything especially Dutch… which is a shame, because even in the UK I’m practically famous for my love of stroopwafels and poffertjes. But that being said, I do love sushi and tacos, so I’m not even mad about it.


Amsterdam is a truly beautiful city. It’s a lot more… frantic, I guess is the word, than I thought it would be. People seem to be rushing everywhere and there are just so many people crammed into a relatively small area, it’s hard to really relax. For me, anyway; considering I’m used to places like Stockholm, Copenhagen and Reykjavík. Comparatively, it was very busy. It was nice in a way, because it gave the picturesque city a sort of ‘lived in’ feel. Like it was a vibrant city with a life of its own instead of being turned into a barely living museum. It’s quite easy to tell the Dutch from the tourists, because the Dutch tend to be the ones who look most annoyed at the number of tourists wandering down their cycle paths. I did manage to go a whole five days without getting twatted by a bike, so I’m going to call that a win.

IMG_2958As for trying the city on for size… I don’t know if I could ever see myself living there. I mean, it’s preferable to the UK, but so are most places… so there’s no reason to choose Amsterdam. I’ll definitely go back to visit, and maybe play the tourist a little bit more, but I don’t think a move there is on the cards; beautiful as it is. It just didn’t give me the same vibe as a lot of the other places I’ve been. Still, there’s always next time. Now all that’s left to do is choose my destination. As always, thanks for reading. See you next month.

– J.


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