Amsterdam: 5 Things I Won’t Miss

Gasp! There is actually something Julie won’t miss about living in Amsterdam? She’s always singing its praises. 

Guys, let’s keep it real. Life in Amsterdam isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. In fact, depending how you read that, it mostly isn’t. Here are some things that I definitely won’t miss about our brief Dutch life:

  1. The bike culture. But wait, I thought you said it was something you would miss? Well, there are two sides to that story. This other, evil side is the one that whizzes past you, pedaling the wrong direction in the bike lane (or not), but somehow you, pedestrian/motorist/innocent soul, are the moron and you are in the wrong for not seeing them first. I have been clipped by many a biker. And when you aren’t prepared, that bell is startling. Consider this a warning: Bicyclists always have the right of way. That includes when I’m riding, thankyouverymuch.
  2. The ignorant comments from people that never have visited Amsterdam and claim they know it’s all about prostitution and pot. Guess what? It’s not. While the Red Light District and coffeeshops do exist and are a legal boost to our economy, they have nothing to do with my life and it’s easy to forget they are even here.
  3. Actually, I take that back. The tourists that visit such places and then create scenes in otherwise peaceful places (like when I’ve been harassed by junkies in the park… at 11am). We’re just trying to live our life, so keep your dalliances to yourself. I don’t care what you do, just do it somewhere that is not in front of my face.
  4. The weather. I’ve gotten used to it, and I suppose I can make this positive by saying that now I really truly appreciate a nice, sunny day. Most of the time, it’s like this: 
  5. It’s dirty. Coming from Chicago, which I guess is very clean, this is the other end of the spectrum. Trash is left in the streets, the canal water is polluted, and no one ever picks up after their dogs. Unbelievably, it doesn’t smell! Must be all the flowers…

These lists are fun.

xxx

Amsterdam: 10 Things I’ll Miss

As we wrap up our time in Amsterdam, I’ve been reflecting like whoa on everything that I’m going to miss about our Dutch life. While there are countless things that I’ll miss, here is a short list of some more “general” things:

  1. Market shopping. Obviously. This is basically my main pastime. I love strolling through the many markets that are squeezed into tiny Amsterdam. It’s where I get most of our produce, and a lot of our poultry and cheeses. And it’s always fun to check out some of the interesting trinkets being sold. 
  2. There’s no panhandling. I’m told that Amsterdam has a lot of programs and shelters to limit this activity. I have never once been asked for money in the 14 months we have lived here. In a way, that has contributed to the safe environment this city maintains. There is low crime and little to fear as I come home alone at night, which I’ve done often.
  3. The architecture. Charming, quaint, and cute are the first three adjectives that come to mind. Amsterdam is a small city, and the building style, which is highly regulated, helps to keep the small town charm intact. There are rules on what you can do to the facade and how tall you can build.
  4. The bike culture. I occasionally moan and groan about riding my bike, but that is mostly out of laziness. I really love riding it. And with all the bike lanes and signals, not to mention how fast we can get places, it’s a wonderful convenience. 
  5. The parks, specifically Sarphatipark and Vondelpark. For its size, Amsterdam has a healthy amount of green space. We had many picnics, long walks and good ole fashion fun in ’em. 
  6. Those canals. I know we’re moving to a place with lots o’ water, but it’s different. It’s not as intimate. There is something incredibly romantic about a stroll along the Dam canals. 
  7. The abundance of flowers. Hello, we’re in the the tulip capital of the world, despite the fact that they did not originate here. Fun Fact: Tulips are really from Turkey and were imported here in 16th century. We always had fresh flowers in the house this year, which became a daily luxury rather than a once-in-awhile treat. 
  8. The street style here has really changed the way I look at everyday dressing. While the 90’s grunge look is definitely seeing a resurgence, people also just embrace their own unique style, whatever that is. While Dam Style is an homage to the younger, quirkier set, its a glimpse at some of the more eclectic fashion. Many people dress more subtly.
  9. I have definitely taken this for granted, but the centrality of Amsterdam in Europe; its magical ability to be a 1 to 2 hour flight from seemingly everywhere, is something I know I’m going to miss. Stockholm, while a major city, is at least one connection away from a lot of places we may want to visit and often will be a much longer flight.
  10. Raw herring. I don’t care what you say, I like it. Especially on a crunchy bun with onions and pickles. 

Of course, this is not a full list. These were on the very top of my head. 😀

xxx

Final Dam Visitors: This is Living

…Is what Adam said when he arrived at our apartment, popped open a beer and marveled at the view down our little, narrow street.

It truly is. Our last visitors of the year came for a whirlwind week in July. About a month ago. Remember my most recent post about not being busy? Well the day after I wrote it, that all changed and things have been non-stop around here. In a good way.

But I digress. This post is about our visit from Shannon, Adam and Chris, three of my dearest friends all the way back from high school! We go wayyy back. The entire week was constant laughter and fun. I still can’t stop myself from giggling at all the memories. And we did some cool stuff too! Here’s the short list:

Van Gogh Museum. Only my second visit. Just as great as the first.

 

Anne Frank Huis. Again, my second visit. Better than my fist when I was alone. Although you don’t really talk while in there, it’s better to have company.

– Amsterdam Noord & Noorderlicht Cafe. Per Adam’s insistence, we headed to Amsterdam Noord to try out this cafe and see the street art scene up there at NDSM-Werf. Naturally, took the wrong ferry and walked for an hour in pouring rain to get there, but it was worth it:

– Road-tripped to Belgium! We hit up Ghent & Bruges, two places we also visited with M&M when they stayed with us in January. I love Belgium for the beautiful architecture, interesting beers and delicious mussels. We had pots, and pots and pots! Also got to enjoy a free concert in Bruges’ main square on a mild summer night.

– Back in Amsterdam, we went on a boat ride on the sunniest, most pleasant day in Dutch history. Couldn’t think of a better way to end the week.

I even made these delicious rosemary vodka lemonades for the occasion:

Which reminds me… I haven’t shared recipes in awhile and I have been cooking up a STORM, you guys. More on that later.

It was truly an incredible week. So much celebrating. So much fun. Until we brought them to the airport. It’s always sad when our friends and family leave us, but this was a little different. This trio leaving was a very poignant, very sad realization as well – that’s it. No more visitors are scheduled at the moment as we decide what is next for us. Are we staying in Amsterdam? Moving within Europe? Heading stateside? You’ll just have to wait and see!

Coming up: Our anniversary vacation in Italy!

Weekend Wrap Up

Ahoy, Captain. Jaro surprised me with a private boat ride!

Bloemengracht

Enjoying the hot date (and nice weather!).

Modern houseboat

A pretty scene

Ducklings

Nerds (but look, he even brought flowers on board!)

The best way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

The Butcher.

I ask for a picture and get swooped up. Super fans!

Nederland (6) vs. Northern Ireland (0)

Heading to Ukraine today for the European Championship 2012. I can’t believe it’s here and we get to see all Jaro’s hard work pay off. Still figuring out what will happen to us come September. We will be sure to make an announcement when we find out what’s next!!

xxx

Weekend Wrap Up

Playing with bugs. What’s new.

Beach day at Zandvoort.

Best egg salad sandwich. Ever.

Taco Shop in Amsterdam. Set up by a couple dudes from Cali.

Revan. Awesome Turkish restaurant in Amsterdam.

Beach day at Bloemendaal. Need to rent one of these this summer.

Happy Memorial Day. Ready for BBQ & picnic.

Happy Memorial Day. Here in Amsterdam, they celebrate Pentacost. Either way, Jaro had the day off.

Our first “BBQ” in Sarphatipark.