Over three weeks ago, I was in lovely Amsterdam, as chronicled on this blog. While I wrote about each day I spent there, I neglected to write an overall summary. As such, this post won’t be as specific, since you can find the recaps. The aim is also to add my subjective thoughts about what I liked and disliked about it.
- The atmosphere. Coming from Moscow, I knew that things would be different, but it was fantastic seeing it in person. People here were much friendlier, which I think was the biggest difference. That’s not to say that Russians can’t be friendly, but the Dutch I encountered didn’t hesitate to smile and welcome me from the get go; you don’t really feel that way, at least in my experience, here in Moscow. It was nice having the chance to talk in English (with the chance to throw in a few words of Dutch; people were happily surprised when I would say “dank u wel” or “hoi”) without feeling like I was making obnoxious demands.
- Walking around the city was pretty fantastic, if not because of the small (ish) city vibe and the gorgeous architecture. In general, getting from my hostel to the center of the city took about 20 minutes, attesting to the walkability of the city. Yes, I had the option to take trams, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to digest the scenery. It was neat strolling along the streets and seeing the cute houses-I was even able to see inside quite a few. Coming from Moscow where we all live in apartment blocks, the uniqueness of the houses was a shock to the senses of sort. Seriously, seeing a blend of historical architecture with modern design after spending 16 months among grey buildings was almost too much to handle. Another fantastic aspect of the city was walking along the famous canals. Prior to arriving, I held the opinion that it was a bit of a cliche seeing people taking pictures of the canals, but holy moly they were gorgeous! If there were any takeaways from this trip, it’s that have a better appreciation for all those Facebook and Instagram pictures of them. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit facetious here, but Amsterdamers have a city they rightfully should be proud of.
- Getting lost, believe it or not, was fun. It may seem strange, but getting a chance to see new neighborhoods along canals or even the outside districts was great change of pace. Being there for six days wasn’t much time to really get to see every single thing the city had to offer, but getting unintentionally lost helped shed light on what I didn’t have time to see. I’ll definitely have to make a return trip and explore more!
- All the little side streets contributed to getting confused when strolling around. It wasn’t super bad, but at times it was frustrating realizing that I went the exact opposite way of my intended destination. As I mentioned in the prior point, getting lost ended being a positive, but man, I could’ve saved time and energy some days had those pesky side streets not screwed with my navigation.
- I know this may seem like a case of pure whining, but it wasn’t super cheap. I know, I know, the Netherlands uses the Euro and I was there over the New Year holiday, but still. I paid about $17 on average for museums and other attractions, which hurt my budget (of which I’m feeling the reverberations from in my daily life). While it was worth it, I’ve had to reign in my spending.