It was on a cold weekend in May when L and I went to Amsterdam. Three months later, I am finally ready to tell our story. See, about five months ago, I had never set a single foot to the Netherlands before. Living in Belgium has made it impossible for me not to enter the dutch territory and it was about time. So clean and friendly, bikes everywhere, no to very little litter on the floor, well-organized, gorgeous tall men, breakfast culture, this was my place to be. I had no chance but to say yes to Amsterdam when L asked me out on a girls weekend away in May (which turned out not to be as much a girls weekend as we had expected, since my two fella friends F&F also decided to explore Amsterdam on the same weekend, yay!
Amsterdam is only a very beautiful bus ride away from Brussels with lots of windmills along the way. I was secretly convinced that their windmills were just a myth, like us Austrians living in the mountains, wearing dirndls all day long and knowing how to yodel, well my bus ride proved me wrong! L and I took a gorgeous airbnb in a rather new neighbourhood a bit outside the city centre, as housing in Amsterdam is freaking expensive. We could have taken bikes to the centre, but it was honestly too cold for my taste, as I eventually got sick during our trip. My voice (when I still had one) was about as attractive as a chain smoker’s, some of my friends even begged me to keep that voice! I guess going out the night before and drinking shots didn’t really add much good to it, so all my suffering the next day (yes, the entire day) was well-deserved.
Meeting the boys in Amsterdam was so natural that at some point I had totally forgotten that we’d only known each other for a few months. We got some fabulous takeaway pizza, sat on a bench along the canal and watched ‘Haubi’, the Great Crested Grebe – which was actually a coot, but I guess we don’t know our birds as well as we thought we did – build a nest for him and his future familiy. Haubi eventually got in a fight with another coot, but managed to successfully defend his little boat after all. Weirdly, these birds have followed my every single trip while living in Belgium. It’s become a thing of our friendship with the boys and I’m starting to think that we should all get matching tattoos? I’m joking of course! Sitting at the canal eating pizza was surely a very memorable moment, especially because my pizza basically ended up everywhere since I’m not the most talented person when it comes to eating. A big thank you to Haubi for taking away the attention, so I could eat peacefully without being laughed at for once and for even sending me a text message while I was sound asleep: Hello it’s me, Haubi.
Amsterdam is such a photogenic city, I probably could have stopped in front of every house to take a snapshot. It’s also an unbelievably green city with beautiful flowers and inviting benches in front of people’s homes. I’ve been wondering why we haven’t introduced this friendly culture yet in Vienna. Actually, it reminded me of my childhood. In my neighbourhood it’s very common to have a bench and pretty flowers outside your house. Having a perfect house and garden isn’t only a suburb cliché, it’s also a countryside reality. My grandpa used to sit there all the time, have a smoke and a cold beer on a mild summer’s eve. My grandpa was very much liked in our neighbourhood – which by the way exists of four houses – so almost every night, my neighbours came along with a beer and sat with him on that bench to chat. For us kids, this was something special because it meant that we could stay up late. It became some sort of tradition that is slowly dying out with the growing age of my neighbours and with us kids growing up and moving away from home. Sometimes it really doesn’t take much for a city to make you feel just like home, Amsterdam definitely hit a spot.
L and I managed to avoid the most touristy places for the first couple of days, which is something I realised on our last day when we finally decided to explore the Red Light District since it’s a must do when in Amsterdam. As we tried to find a nice place to have breakfast at, we wandered through the narrow streets of the old city, when all of a sudden a huge drop of liquid landed on my head, hand and camera. I don’t even think I can describe how I felt that moment, but yes, somebody spat right on me from the window. Maybe my red jacket was too provocative? No honestly, I’ have no idea whether I’d become a target, or whether I was just really unlucky to be in that place at that very second. I wasn’t quite sure what to do and started laughing for a bit because of the absurdity of the moment, but then went to the closest bar possible to use their loo to get rid of this disgusting and ridiculous spit. All three bartenders were overtly friendly and helpful and handed me over their soap and disinfection spray and made an effort in cheering me up with some disgusting fun stories they had experienced in the last few days as a bartender in Amsterdam. After some exceptionally weird moments, I still very much enjoyed Amsterdam and would go back any time! An article with recommendations on where to eat will follow. Until then, take care!