It’s a universal truth that I love the Netherlands. I know it, you know it, the whole world knows it, after months of me raving about it and telling literally anyone they should go there. The perfect country, where every thing works nicely and every one looks serene, where even the things that don’t work can’t annoy you because EVERYTHING IS JUST SO GOOD.
So I like the Netherlands. However, one thing that I am not a huge fan of is something which some of you might throw stones at me for. I have heard the stories before: Amsterdam is beautiful, Amsterdam is magical, best city in Europe, “I would love to go back”, amazing Amsterdam. To me, it’s a whole different story which I am about to tell you.
I went to Amsterdam for the first time on September 5th, for a job interview. Until then, all I had heard from Amsterdam were good stories and, having liked The Hague, I thought this would just be better. I was staying in Rotterdam, which is completely different from any other city in the Netherlands, so anything was destined to come as a surprise to me. Before moving there, I had been telling my friends how close I would be to Amsterdam, excited to finally visit this city and sure I would spend most of my weekends there.
Well my friends, the capital was a whole different thing for me. I got to the city in the early morning, stressed and anxious about my interview. Instantly I was confused: somehow, I managed to get out from the wrong side of the station, ending up staring into the Amsterdam waters with no clue of where I was going. I quickly went back inside and started looking for the tram I was supposed to take, which I couldn’t see anywhere. Somehow, people living there seemed to not know where the stupid tram was supposed to be, which irritated me and didn’t help my first impression of the city. After finally boarding it, I started looking out the windows to get a proper look of the famous Amsterdam. What I saw didn’t really cause a great reaction on me: canals like the ones I had seen in the Hague, more shops and herds on herds on herds of tourists everywhere.
After getting to my stop, I managed to find the place for my interview, after which I decided to walk back to the station to see a bit of the city and find something nice to do to pass the time (as I had a day ticket and could go back to Rotterdam whenever I wanted). Walking through the city centre, I saw loads of bars, pubs, restaurants and little souvenir shops, which didn’t really speak to me in any way. As I got closer to the main attractions of the city, the tourists started appearing once again. Everywhere. I looked around and saw canals projected against modern buildings, in a city which managed to somehow mash nature and civilisation in a really nice way.
I then proceeded to sit in the sun, trying to immerse my aching feet in the not-so-clean water while I enjoyed the vibe of the city and the surge of energy coming from the people. Because I do like that about crowded cities – the power and silent energy which flows around and through you, as you are surrounded by human beings living and breathing and moving through air. I just find it absolutely fascinating and it gives me a sense of power which I hardly get from anything other than people. I guess it’s also why I study communication – nothing makes me happier than communicating and exchanging stories, behind part of each other’s experiences and interacting constantly. Although I do need some time on my own more often than not, I could not live in a place which doesn’t have many people – it’s just not for me. Still, this needs to be filtered in the right way.
I am not gonna tell you Amsterdam is not nice or not worth visiting – it probably is. The Netherlands are a seriously stunning country and the canals are definitely worth seeing – sitting by one is such a relaxing and peaceful feeling, which can relieve the city stress in wonderful ways. However, if you’re into that, I really don’t see the point in staying in a place where you can’t enjoy shit because tourists, noises and souvenir shops are taking up every corner. If you have a job interview which you feel hasn’t gone too well, too, it just isn’t meant to work for you.
To me, Amsterdam is a nice dream. It’s full of life, you can have a good time, you can always be surrounded by people and you can enjoy a huge variety of events happening daily in the city. Despite that, it just feels a bit too commercial, like a posterised version of any other smaller town in the Netherlands. Why the need to get lost in this chaos when you can witness the same beauty in a much more honest and authentic place?
In the Amsterdam vs Rotterdam fight, I would pick Rotterdam without batting an eye, as different as Rotterdam can be to any other city in the country. It just feels different, less commercial and less advertised, more raw somehow. Like the rebel sibling who never follows the rules. The Hague, Utrecht, Delft etc are the more silent but beautiful inside younger cousins. Amsterdam is the vain big sister. Ok I’m done.
Soooo in short, it’s up to you! Now you know why I’m not a big fan of the capital, but please don’t let that hold you back from visiting the city. Each experience is different and mine was certainly affected by my mood of the day, my company and just generally the way I felt. It also highly depends on what kind of person you are, so what I hate might be something that you absolutely love. If you have visited the city and would like to express your opinion, please comment below and let me know! Would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂
Either way, I hope you’re all having a lovely day! And I will see you at the next blog post. 🙂