I little throwback here as today I would like to share my experience in Amsterdam. I lived there from January to July 2016. I moved there for an internship (I was Business Developer for Designer-Vintage).
Amsterdam will always have a particular place in my heart as I met my boyfriend there, who lived there for a temporary period as well (he’s from Mexico :)). I had the chance to meet wonderful people, I even can say that some of them are ones of my best friends.
Amsterdam… When I told my French friends in France, their first related thoughts were Redlight District and Weed. But don’t get me wrong guys, Amsterdam is way more than this!
Amsterdam is a lovely city with about 1 million inhabitants. A dynamic capital without having the feeling to be in a capital. It feels quite relax with all the canals and the people on the bikes -you’re far from the hustle and bustle of other big capitals in my opinion, and I liked it. It is not very big neither and you can easily walk from one side to another side of the city; if you don’t mind walking, otherwise you have good tram connexions and metro or you can rent a bike to feel like a local!
The center of Amsterdam is characterized by a large amount of canals (that’s why her nickname is the “Venice from the North”). Actually they are 165 in total and the main ones form a circular arcs (see on google map ^^). The Canal Ring was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage list some years ago. It gives a lot of charm to the city!
If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, don’t miss out these areas:
The 9 Straatjes (9 streets): My favorite neighborhood. It is right in Amsterdam’s canal district and is characterized by beautiful 17th century streets with Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Singel and Keizersgracht creating those famous nine streets. Full of designer boutiques, art galleries, fashion stores and cute cafés, it is a nice area to wander, especially during sunny days. Don’t forget to grab a cookie at Van Stapele (see below) ;).
De Pijp: Known as the Latin Quarter, this area has got plenty nice cafés and restaurants. I strongly recommend this area to eat, instead of going to the tourist-trap restaurants in Leidseplein. To discover Dutch specialties, head to Albert Cuypmarkt street market and give a try to the Dutch cheese, the Stroopwafles, poffertjes or to a piece of raw herring (the best is to eat it with the Dutch way!)
The Joordan: Formerly developed for the working classes, it is one of the most famous districts of Amsterdam. Nice cafés, art galleries and the famous Noordermarkt (flea market on Monday, farmer market on Saturday) characterized the Jordaan. Don’t forget to try the best apple pie of Holland at Winkel43 (see below).
Feel free to explore everything by foot or by bike, that’s the best way to discover Amsterdam, you won’t be disappointed 😉
If you are planning to go to Amsterdam, I strongly recommend you to check out Your Little Black Book to plan your stay. This blog will keep you updated about the newest hotpots, the events going on and the best places to go. When I used to live in Amsterdam, I particularly loved checking out the website every Friday to plan my week-end, as they release a “week-end guide” full of great tips regarding Culture & Museums, Clubbing&Nightlife, Food&Drink, Things to do and Shopping. There are soooo many things going on in Amsterdam – you really can’t get bored.
Museums: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank House, Stedelijk museum and so much more.
Bars, nightclubs: Head to Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein where you will find a bunch of bars and nightclubs. Nice bars are in the Pijp as well!
Festivals: There are a lot of nice festivals, around 300 actually! Music, food, film and cultural festivals take place through the year, especially during Spring and Summer, check out Amsterdam’s agenda 🙂
Shopping: If you love designer boutiques and vintage shops, head to the Nine Streets. For shopping centers lovers, Magna Plazza and De Bijenkorf near Dam Square should satisfy you. From there until Leidseplein you will find lots of international brands if you are looking for that.
So many adorable cafés, cantines and restaurants. You have so many choices – too many good choices actually! I love going to the Pijp when it comes to grabbing some food, drinks and sitting on a terrasse (when the weather allows this). Or if you’re more into foodtrucks, or if you are with a group of friends and each one has got different food tastes, Foodhallen is also a good option:). I will create a special “Bonnes adresses” article here 😉
Public transports work pretty well in Amsterdam. I used to have the OV Chipkaart, which I had to top up. As you pay according the number of kilometers you travel, it can be quite expensive using it. In my opinion, the best option is to opt for a bike. Not only you get into the Dutch spirit, but it is also a cheap option as you can buy a second-hand bike for a really good price (unless it got stolen after one month as it happened to me ahah).
What a challenge to find a good place for a decent price! Prices are rising as the demand is getting higher and higher comparing to the offer. If you want to find a place, you have to be very reactive! I rented a room for a temporary period of 2 months first. I got in touch with a guy renting it through Facebook’s groups. It was really well located, in Helmersbuurt, 2 min walk from the busy center. One week after settling down, I met a woman in a café while I was working on my master thesis, and it turned that I lived at her place for the following 4 months! Maria Alexandra, or my “Dutch mummy” as I like saying, always offered me support. With a room right in the center, be sure to prepare your earplugs! Some nights were such nightmares for a person who has such a light sleep like me. But nothing could beat the view I had from my window: right over the canal – I used to love sitting in front on this window and could spend hours just sitting there and watching people riding their bike, or wandering in the beautiful neighborhood. The location could not be beaten and for King’s day, this was a front seat to admire boats’ parade!
Basically it is the reason I moved there. I was Business Developer and Marketing Assistant for Designer-Vintage.com. It is an online platform to buy and sell second-hand luxury articles. As it is a part of G+J Media, there were a lot of people working in the open-space office and all Dutchies! My team was absolutely very nice. I was working in English but it would have been easier for me to speak Dutch – that’s actually the only one thing I regret! Talking about this, Dutch people speak very good English. If you want to learn Dutch, you really have to tell them to talk Dutch with you, otherwise they easily switch into English, and you won’t learn :).
To summarize, Amsterdam is a great city to be and to live. There is definitively a good quality of life there. I really liked the balance that people have between work and social life. It is something really important for them. There are so many things to keep you active, so many international people to meet – you can’t get bored. People I know who live there are really happy and don’t feel like moving to another place! It is true that the atmosphere there is really particular. For sure I will go back.
What I will always remember from those 6 months is definitely the people I met there. So interesting, open-minded and fun. Living in Amsterdam offered me the chance to meet people from countries I have never been to, and to become friends with and even girlfriend to one 🙂
Here is a glimpse of some souvenirs with these amazing people 🙂
What about you? Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Looking forward to hearing from you!
Hope you liked this article, feel free to share your feelings about it :))