A year in Europe followed by a move to Bangkok

My Impressions of Amsterdam

We got off to a bit of a rocky start in Amsterdam.  It is funny because whenever I told someone that Jake and I were going to spend nearly two months in Amsterdam, they would inevitably make a comment warning me about the prevalence of drugs or the red light district.

However, I quickly learned that what I should have been warned about were the bicycles.  Or more specifically, the fact that anytime you are walking in Amsterdam, you are a few seconds away from getting hit by a bicycle if you aren't careful.  It felt like every time I entered a crosswalk, a bike would come whizzing through its own red light and nearly hit me.  It took a few close misses for me to fully understand that in Amsterdam, anything goes for the bicyclists and the pedestrians need to be on high alert at all times. And God help you if you accidentally stand in a bike lane.

However, when not on their bicycles, I found the people of Amsterdam to be kind, welcoming and very down to earth.  And once I adjusted to the bike situation, I found the city of Amsterdam to be one of my very favorites.

Amsterdam felt like its own little world and very different from the other big cities in Europe.  The combination of the canals, bridges and charming architecture led to an almost fairytale like feel.

During our stay, Amsterdam was hit by tragedy when flight MH17 was blown out of the sky over Ukraine.  The flight originated at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

A few days later, Jake and I were chatting while we walked home from a restaurant.  There was a moment where I realized that everything around us was strangely silent and I was the only person making any noise.  Up ahead I saw a stream of people silently walking through the streets.  We stood and watched while what I would guess were tens of thousands of people, all dressed in white, silently walked through the street together toward Dam Square.

The juxtaposition of the unthinkable violence that had occurred with the people of Amsterdam's response of hope and peace was very moving and something I will never forget.  It did not feel right at the time to take photographs, but here is a link to a video that I found online:

We stayed in the incredibly charming Jordaan neighborhood.  Dating back to the 1600s, the Jordaan is full of history. I came home with hundreds of photos of canals and townhouses that were near my (airbnb) apartment. They are basically variations of the same photo taken again and again, but the neighborhood was so beautiful that it was difficult not to always have my camera out.

The people in Amsterdam were very kind to Henry.  He made new friends wherever he went!

Below is Henry's "please stop and pet me" pose.  I should note that he was in serious need of being groomed at this point, but surprisingly, we could not find any grooming shops in the city.  So, this is Henry's Amsterdam look.

Amsterdam had a very laid back and relaxed feel to me, but at the same time, it felt orderly and efficient.  Everyone seemed to keep to themselves, however any time I asked for help, the response was polite and kind.  Basically everyone in Amsterdam speaks English, which made communication much easier than in some other European cities.

All in all, I was very impressed by Amsterdam.  Although many people associate Amsterdam only with vice, I found it was very easy to avoid such things.  Simply don't visit the red light district and don't go into any "coffeeshops" (they aren't selling coffee).  There is so much more to Amsterdam.

I was charmed by Amsterdam and am so glad we decided to spend time in this unique and lovely city.


  1. Haha I couldn't agree more with the bicycles part :p

    1. I know! It is pretty unbelievable :)