Met Liefde, Uit Amsterdam

Please use caution, because you’ll want to quit your job, pack your bags and never come back.

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Where do I start? Was it everything I imagined it would be? Did I instantly fall in love? Were there Stroopwafels? Yes, yes and perhaps one too many!

We arrived after a long 28 hours of traveling from Brazil to our temporary home in an up and coming neighbourhood south east of the centre. I didn’t waste any time, I set off on foot on the first day observing the pedestrians, cyclists (and what they were wearing) and to see how people move around the city. One thing I noticed right away is that you have to be acutely aware of your surroundings – bikes are coming from every direction, as are cars, trams and hoards of tourists. I was often overwhelmed, but quickly adjusted after experiencing first hand the many glorious attributes that gives Amsterdam its reputation: the 400km+ of bike lanes wide enough to gab with a friend side by side, parks spread throughout the city each offering ample green space for summer hangs, those charming and narrow buildings perched along the iconic canals that we’ve all heard about and surprisingly, a handful of spots to jump in a canal and cool off. Bliss.

At times I felt like I was in the middle of some kind of urban circus – at one glance I would spot a cycle mom with a newborn strapped to her chest, with hot coffee in one hand while the other hand was gently steering her down a bumpy cobblestone hill. At another I would notice a middle aged man with a kid sitting on the front rack while another was standing up straight on the back, with his hands on the driver’s shoulders, casually making their way through the inner city. Normal for them, anxiety for me!

From a fashion perspective, the Dutch are my cup of tea: they’re trendy yet relaxed, aren’t afraid to add a splash of colour or don a daring print, and haven’t fully surrendered to current trends and mass produced options from the tourist infested inner rings of the city (an area I avoided at all costs). I could easily have perched myself at an intersection for an afternoon and watched the locals glide past looking so chic in their cute summery ensembles and on many occasions, heels. The added sweetness was the charming shops scattered throughout the city, with local start ups and summer pop ups catching my interest. I left with two huge shop crushes, both unlike anything I’ve ever seen and believe it or not, I’m still thinking about them today. Stay tuned for more!

The one single thing I must research before hopping on a plane is markets. I love markets. Flea markets, artisan markets, food markets, junk I’ll never buy markets, ethnic markets, and even touristy markets – I love them all. Of all the places I’ve visited, Amsterdam has nailed it. They’re everywhere and bring something different to the table! The standout? The Albert Cuyp Market in De Pijp. Stretching down four blocks, you can find fresh produce, seafood, pressed juices, flowers, meat, Dutch snacks made right in front of you, clothes, footwear, and even accessories for your bike. Need some new bed sheets? No problem. Lost your iPhone charger? Look no further! Not to mention open 7 days a week! Maybe nothing special to some, but to be able to find your everyday needs in one single market is not only convenient, it’s always nice to shop outside for your daily necessities. You can find this type of market in most neighbourhoods in Amsterdam – I would be over the moon if Vancouver offered the same. Here are a few other honourable mentions:

  • Bloemen Markt: the city’s flower market. Mostly for browsing, but worth seeing
  • Waterlooplein Markt: second hand items, handmade jewelry, and food trucks. Great location
  • Ijhallen: The Netherland’s largest flea market. A short ferry ride from Central Station (you get some sweet views during the ride) and you get two massive halls packed with treasures for dirt cheap prices. Just do it.

Have I convinced you yet? Maybe these visuals will give you a little push.

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L: A whole lot of Amsterdam love. R: Soaking up the morning rays, I’m in heaven.

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She knows what’s up.

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The perfect spot to watch the sun set on the Amstel.

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Mini cacti at the Bloemenmarkt – I wanted them all.

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R: They even have a bike path that goes through one of Amsterdam’s most beloved museums. Seriously.

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Bikes and canals for days.

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Museumplein: home to a gorgeous park, the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the famous iamsterdam.

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My travel buddy, who is as curious (if not more) than I am.

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The Dutch make life seem so easy, don’t they?

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This goes to show the true density of the city.

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Ijhallen

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De Ceuvel: A heavily polluted brownfield taken over by a collective whose plan is to slowly redevelop the area into a creative community and urban oasis.

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Westergasfariek: An old gasworks that was transformed into a thriving culture park. They kept the buildings, and they’re gorgeous.

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There were times when I couldn’t remember where I parked mine!

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 Amsterdam Noord: a creative hub and hot spot for modern day hippies

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Sadly, every holiday must come to an end. I’ll be back Amsterdam, I’m not done exploring you!

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