Currently, I am on the plane on my way home to San Francisco after a two week adventure abroad in Europe. The final leg of my trip was to Amsterdam, which boasts all sorts of fun as well as historical value (yes, I tried to make it somewhat educational).
Almost immediately I saw a lot of similarities between Amsterdam and my own city of San Francisco. Both are cultural melting pots with a sort of bohemian vibe and anything goes attitude. It is a hopelessly charming city that is much more than what meets the eye. So, here is my recap of Amsterdam, and the things I learned about the capital of the Netherlands.
Everyone rides bicycles – moms, dads, business people in suits and ladies in dresses and heels. I don’t know how to quite capture it, but I have never seen so many bikes in my life. There were so many that they necessitate traffic signals to direct them along with the vehicles. Beware though….they will run you over!
People in Amsterdam are among some of the happiest and friendliest I have ever met. I believe that this may link back to the fact that a full-time job there is 38 hours, and the overall pace of life is much more leisurely. They have a genuinely good disposition, and are very hospitable.
Apparently, the art of mixology has not made its way to Amsterdam. The first time I went to a bar and ordered a mixed drink the bartender handed me a shot of alcohol and the rest of the ingredients to make the drink myself. I thought surely this was a joke, so I decided to try another bar and low and behold it happened again. Unless you order a beer, it is DIY.
Heineken does taste better there. Even Amstel Light shows some promise.
Bitterballen — a traditional Dutch savory treat — is just fabulous. It is fried and crispy on the outside, but the inside is a creamy mixture of beef, beef broth, butter, flour, salt and pepper.
I learned I have been missing out on the greatness of the Ketchup Song. Apparently, this Spanglish song is all the rage with the Dutch, and there is even a dance to go with it. You can bet I am bringing this gem back with me.
Amsterdam is an easy city to navigate. Take this from someone who spent a lot of time lost in Paris and Munich.
Similar to what you might see in San Francisco at Golden Gate or Dolores Park — people are just content to sit and lounge around in one of the many parks.
I guess you could say that Amsterdam has a certain reputation, but it really is so much more than the “Red Light District.” For one, it is surprisingly clean for a large city. It is also a cultural mecca with a whole district of museums including one devoted to the work of Van Gogh.
That said, even if you aren’t looking to partake in any of the extra curricular activities the Red Light District is a site to see, and an interesting lesson in human behavior.