As we were preparing for the trip, my wife read somewhere that Amsterdam is sometimes called San Francisco of Europe and jokingly told me that I was going to like it. Of course, you cannot truly judge a city based on a short tourist visit during which you only experience the best part but she was right—Amsterdam is now one of my favorites.
Amsterdam is beautiful. One word that was stuck in my head was “decorations”. Everything seems to be impeccably decorated. On the macro scale, the city itself is decorated with canals. On the medium scale, roads and buildings are decorated with trees and flowers. And on the micro-scale, there are thousands of tiny details—from exquisite architectural sculptures to art on building walls.
Amsterdam is lively. You see a lot of people walking on the streets—as the city was built for pedestrians and bicycles, not for cars. You also see a lot of people sitting outside, talking, and having fun. This creates the impression that people know how to enjoy life. And it also makes the city feel a little bit more like a community of people.
Amsterdam is cosmopolitan and open-minded. Everyone speaks perfect English. The city seemingly embraced globalization and adopted the best things from other countries. But it also definitely kept its unique character. And, of course, the Dutch government doesn’t seem to be in as much hurry as other governments to ban anything.
If you’re going yourself and looking for recommendations, here are some:
- We stayed at an AirBnB in De Pijp neighborhood and loved it.
- Coffee & Coconuts has great coffee and a very lively and cozy ambiance.
- Bar Fisk is a nice place for a fancier dinner if you like fish. I’m not into fine dining and generally prefer simple food but it was a good experience and the prices are reasonable.
- And, obviously: walk the canals, eat at random places you like, and enjoy your trip!