i think amsterdam may be the most charming place i've ever seen. i spent about two and a half weeks in the little city, taking it easy and recovering and soaking in all of its subtle perfections. because i think that's the best way to really know a place--to spend at least a couple weeks (like i also did in spain and france)--to really absorb the culture and bond with locals. you just can't get that when you're rushing to squeeze everything you want to see in a couple quick days.
in my two lovely weeks, i walked along the canals, ate at adorable restaurants, rode on bikes with dutch guys, visited coffee shops, saw a great doctor, wrote reflections on the balcony, relaxed in the parks, crashed rooftops parties, went on dates, annnd celebrated my 23rd birthday!
i was extremely lucky with the weather because it was sunny and warm for my entire stay. every dutch person i talked to said it was some sort of rare summer phenomenon. that it was probably the most consistent sun they've had in 25 years! ...and scarlett said the moment i left, BAM. the shitty weather returned.
thanks amsterdam, for being so perfect for me. except that you made it pretty hard to leave...
there are more bicycles navigating the narrow streets than cars, it seems. so many that there are whole huge garages just for bicycles. they take priority, for sure. it makes the simple act of walking down the street quite the adrenaline rush.
dutch guys are shy and reserved, and to be honest, a bit awkward. as if they're constantly unsure of themselves. we asked scarlett's dad about this and he said dutch guys are so polite that they will never make a move on a girl or approach her first--because they don't want to make her feel uncomfortable. swoon !
the dutch people, in general, are sweet as can be. it's borderline unbearable. WHY are they so different and perfect, WHY? extremely friendly and respectful and honest and oh so very modest. a completely opposite mentality from sayyy nyc? los angeles? any other big city in america? --where everyone's overly independent and constantly on the defense.
there are more canals in amsterdam than in venice...
if/when i settle down and live in a consistent home. i want it to be fully decorated with things from the shops in amsterdam. SO PERFECT.
i got a little taste of socialized medicine and, i must say, it was great. without insurance, it cost me 25 euros to walk in and see a general practitioner. that would've been a $40 copay WITH insurance in the states. and she prescribed me antibiotics for my eye. those normally cost me over $100 (again, with insurance), but were only 15 euros. hallelujah, holland. hallelujah.
when the sun is out, the city explodes with life. people picnic on the edge of the canals, boats filled with shirtless people weave through the narrow waterways, friends and families set up tables atop the stoops to their homes, parks are filled with people playing in the sun, and, of course... bikes galore!
amsterdam has unfairly been dubbed a wild and dangerous city. i found the exact opposite. never have i ever felt so safe walking the streets alone at night. sure there's the red light district, and marijuana is legal, but it's almost better that way. it's contained and safe. the streets are unbelievably clean. the cleanest i've found in europe, or anywhere, for that matter. there are no homeless people begging for money, because they're taken care of. you rarely see people hardcore binge-drinking or "raging" like in america. and if you do, chances are they're tourists...
there's a laid back vibe about the place. and it just makes sense.
studies say dutch people are some of the happiest in the world. i can see why :)