Amsterdam – what to say about this fascinating part of the world? I started off my travels in the summer of 2014 in Noordwijk, a small town outside the city centre of Amsterdam. I loved this place so much, not only Noordwijk or Amsterdam but The Netherlands itself and everything the country had to offer, that I returned for an extra month before heading back to Ireland at the end of my trip.
“expectations of a fresh graduate eager to leave her roots and explore whatever that lands on her path”
I worked in a hostel to fund my stay which will be dedicated to a post of its own, but know this – if life could be as simple as to work in a hostel where your sole responsibilities were to socialize with new people everyday, and to clean the odd toilet, then it would be a much better place! I’m going to make my children do this when they grow up, as a life altering, entertaining experience that you will never look back from.Travelling to this country with the basic information and expectations of a fresh graduate eager to leave her roots and explore whatever that lands on her path, I never thought I would be leaving the country with the high regards and opinion I now hold of the country.
The people first off. This is probably the most important factor for me. I have never met such open minded, easy going, and kind hearted people. Everywhere I went they were so generous and welcoming (especially in the Red Light District wahey! ) but on a serious note I think as far as nationalities go these people are brought up well educated and respectful of others because I had no dealings that were anything but pleasant, and intriguing.
“tall buildings in general are few and far between”
Everyone was given the acceptance to be their own person without judgement, and there was a sense of respect and maturity about the place and its people I had not experienced before. I was happily surprised by the people of Holland and have made some life long friends with quite a few.
The next and most obvious factor about Amsterdam (and no I’m not talking about the weed..) is it’s magnificent landscape. Being from a small town on the coast of Ireland, I must admit that tall buildings in general are few and far between when compared to the likes of a modern international city. That being said, the architecture of Amsterdam is notably beautiful. From the canals running through the city to the cobbled alley ways and majestic structures, it is mad to think the next block down are windows of women selling themselves to men off the street.
Albeit an exaggerated example, people are free to do as they please without society taking offence. Now I must admit there are also ample neon lights and marijuana crop tops to suit the tackiest of tourists, but in a place of such alternative creative styles and vibes, and laws…tourists from all over will flock. Get passed that, and you are sitting pretty in a cruise down the waters of Amsterdam drinking wine, smoking weed and the sun beaming down on you.
As I mentioned I worked just outside the city, about 45km to be exact. We ran a daily shuttle in and out of the city so we had the best of both worlds. From the hustle and bustle of the city to the beautiful country side 40 minutes away. A world apart, Noordwijk is a sea side town with the beach stretching as far as the eye could see.
Kite surfing and wind surfing are major hits for anyone passing through, and the cute dainty town itself is well worth a look. The locals welcome you with open arms and pints of beer and there is never a lack of things to do in a town that is buzzing with the energy of its people and the backpackers that pass through.
Something that came to be an added bonus for me, someone with less than your basic amount of Dutch needed to get by, was that the majority of people had English. Not just basic English, but a grasp of the language that was perfectly articulated and enunciated. I was sometimes caught off guard when informed that the person I was speaking with for half an hour as a fellow backpacker, was actually from Noordwijk or a neighbouring town! That’s just it with the Dutch people, they were constantly leaving me pleasantly surprised, and sometimes insecure about my english in comparison to the grasp they have on my native language.
Although there are still many aspects of Amsterdam that could be mentioned as why the place is so awesome, I will leave it at this. Maybe it’s because I had no expectations, or maybe it’s because I stayed for two months so I really dug my nails in. Either way, it is a place I can still vividly remember from the start of my trip to the very end and that’s what Amsterdam does to you. It leaves you thinking about its majestic buildings, local delicacies, but also the people, encounters and experiences you had along the way, as if you were still there in the thick of it.