The slightly overcast and sporadic light rain isn't the only thing that reminds me of Seattle while in Amsterdam. I'm visiting a friend who's been living abroad for a while now, and it's apparent to me in the short couple days I've been here why her adjustment has been so seamless. The adorable shops, walkability, and then there's the fact that everyone is wearing grey, black, and mostly muted colors - makes me feel right at home.
Getting there was not so familiar. Flying from Seattle to Iceland, a small layover was necessary before boarding the second plane to Amsterdam. Walking into the airport, the quietness was deafening. Even by American standards, I am loud-talker - I found myself constantly lowering my voice and fighting my basic instinct to make noise. Not even music or voices above a soft lull filled the hallways. Back home, living in the heart of the city, I find loud bustle of the city very comforting and familiar. Among the sea of quiet talkers, it was very obvious who the tourists were.
Food: Once in Amsterdam, while attempting to get used to the time change, I would find myself STARVING at the weirdest times. Luckily, a staple in this adorable town is frites. A cone of fries (complete with a dollop of a sweet mayo on top) is available everywhere you turn. My first reaction was EW but I figured while there, I'd do what the Amsterdamer's (or Dutchies) do. And to my surprise, it was delicious. I'd equate it to the famous street dog in Seattle with cream cheese. Sounds weird, tastes great.
I did not have a single less-than-incredible meal in Amsterdam.
It was very common for people to come from other countries and open up their traditional restaurants, so everything you're having is completely authentic. There was a lovely couple from Spain that opened a tapas place with incredible meat and seafood and traditional Spanish dishes. We also met an owner from Milan, Italy who served me the most amazing prosciutto pizza I've ever had.
The best part about European eats - cheese with every meal!! Prices for food and drinks are extremely affordable, making it possible to head out for a dinner and drinks as often as possible.
Transportation: With pastries, breads, and fries galore, everyone still seemed to be in great shape. The wide bike lanes that line the streets make me understand why. Girls in dresses, people with full baskets, large duffel bags, even children all ride around like it's second nature. Not a helmet in sight. While most people in the city bike to work, there are trams, busses, trains, and even uber (!) readily available. Affordable, fast, and efficient, the countless ways to get around definitely had me wishing Seattle traffic could be spread out in a similar way.
Music (and Belgium): Seeing the one and only Dixie Chicks (remember them?) kick off their tour filled me with such American pride! Opening night was in Belgium, so off we went! Wandering the cobblestone streets of the city drinking amazing beer, and the best tasting waffles I've ever had (available on every street corner) the whole town was picturesque. Stopping to grab a couple cowboy hats, we made it to the arena to witness the Dixie Chicks seamless and patriotic performance. Lead singer Natalie Maines' voice was perfection. It was like they had never taken a break from the stage. The weirdest part for me, however, was how reserved the concert-goers were. While the handful of American's jumped up and down singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs, most everyone stayed seated and quiet throughout the show, showing moderate appreciation at the end of each song. Not to say that they were having any less fun than the obvious American's, but never have I seen an arena full of people so subdued. Needless to say, that didn't stop us from having our obnoxious good time. Especially while waffles were still readily available during the show.
Fashion: Practical, Put-together, and casual chic. Most of the women I saw had an effortless beauty about them which I thought took them hours in the morning to get that perfect tousled look. But after a day walking around the city, the intense wind made all hope of my hair staying in place completely lost. Because of that icy chill - big scarves, long coats, and warm sweaters draped the women and no matter how casual or fancy the outfit, sneakers were the shoe of choice. From understated low-rise black nikes, to converse, and adidas high tops, sneakers are a must have while getting from A to B or going out on the town. If the occasion is fancier, women may put on a pair of flat booties but there was not a heel in site on those cobblestone roads! Men wore very tailored suits, or nice jeans with scuff-less dress shoes and perfectly coiffed hair. And everyone smelled AMAZING!
Much like Starbucks in Seattle, and to my extreme delight, there was an H&M about every 50 feet. Not to mention Zara, Zara Home, and countless affordable boutiques. The shopping in Amsterdam could keep you occupied for days!
Dating: The steady stream of GQ like men passing by was quite a pleasant surprise. After talking to a couple Dutch residents, online dating, just like in America, is very popular. The men tend to be more reserved but it's very common for them to date American women because of their upbeat and free-spirited attitudes.
So ladies, if you're single and feel like traveling and/or moving abroad, it might be the perfect place to meet your new man. :)