It was 14th of May, a very, very hot day in Fuerteventura. The sky was hazy because of the dust wind from Sahara. Temperature in the shade was over 39 Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit). In the sun it was scorching hot.
The wind, usually a bit cool and refreshing, that day was hot as well. On that day we had a flight to Amsterdam. We were planning to find a job in the Netherlands. And so Amsterdam – city we had heard about so much, but never seen ourselves – seemed like a good starting point.
We arrived in Amsterdam next morning and our first thought was: “It is so cold here!” It was some 12 degrees Celsius, and I put my winter jacket on. And that’s in two weeks before summer.
Over the next week we saw that the weather here is changeable. One day it’s rainy and cold. The other day sun is shining and it’s quite warm – with 20 or more degrees Celsius. But some days were like this: few hours it’s raining, few hours – sunny, then again there is rain plus strong wind.
People in Amsterdam are very kind and helpful
Yes, we have said that about Spanish and North Italian people already. But people in the Netherlands are even more kind! It might seem impossible. But it is so!
When we got our OV-Chipcards (public transport card in the Netherlands) we weren’t sure, if we need to “check-in” before our train’s departure or no. And we didn’t know how to do it. So we just asked two older women. And they kindly explained to us how to check-in, where to do it and warned us, that we mustn’t forget to check-out.
Not only they gave us much more information as we initially asked, we also chatted for a while about our visit to the Netherlands and for how long we plan to stay here. Cool!
As Kaspars now says about Dutch people: “You can go to a pharmacy and ask where you can buy charger for an iPad and they will tell you all the places, ha.”
Well, we haven’t tried it yet. We don’t need new charger now. But it might be true. I asked for international post stamps in the souvenir shop few times. They didn’t sell stamps. But not only they answered that they don’t sell them, they told me where in the city to search for them. Without me asking for more information. That’s cool!
People are happy in Amsterdam. Out in the streets you see smiling and laughing people. Sometimes complete strangers say hi to you. It’s not only statistics showing the Netherlands as one of the happiest countries in the world you can see it yourself wherever you go.
And looks like almost everyone speaks English, not only youth.
Thousands and thousands of bicycles
There are a lot of bicycles in Amsterdam! Really, a lot. According to iamsterdam.com there are approximately 800 000 bicycles in Amsterdam. Whilst there are only 263 000 cars.
63% of residents of Amsterdam use their bikes every day! As there are so many bikes, there must be a lot of bicycle roads! They are, like, everywhere – next to car lanes, in parks, on sidewalks, in Old City Center. And special bicycle parking zones. And special offers for people traveling with train and bicycle. And so on.
Canals. A lot of canals. Amsterdam is crisscrossed by canals. I like this photo of aerial view of Amsterdam. There you can see, how Amsterdam’s canals look from above. Amazing, isn’t it?
If there are a lot of water in Amsterdam, there should be a lot of boats? Right! Small boats, big boats, yachts, canal cruise boats, catamarans and even houseboats! People living in those and also there are houseboats for rent. Really a lot of smaller and bigger floating modes of transportation. But not as many as bicycles, haha!
There even is a Cat Boat in Amsterdam! This is a floating cat sanctuary, actually – world’s only! The entrance is free, but donations are welcome.
Cheese shops, coffeeshops and bookstores
Before arriving in Amsterdam, I didn’t know that the Netherlands is famous also for it’s… cheese! But, hey, when I think about cheese most of us Latvians eat very often, it’s the Holland cheese. So maybe it’s coming from the Holland, ha?
You see quite a lot of cheese shops in Amsterdam. And they could be impressive. Some of them looking more like luxury fashion brand stores. Only in a place of expensive handbags there you see huge cheese wheels crammed on top of each other.
If you are in Amsterdam, visit it’s bookstores! There are a lot of them in the city center, and some of them are quite spectacular. According to few sources, American Book Center, located in the heart of Amsterdam, can be called as one of the coolest and most beautiful bookstores in the world.
There are also specialized bookstores. Like the one selling only Christian books. I remember, when we walked in such a bookstore and couldn’t understand, why everything here is about God.
About coffeeshops, where you can smoke marijuana. We knew that they are popular in Amsterdam. But still we didn’t expect to see so many of them. They are everywhere, on every corner in the city center. First you smell the pot (now we will call it the scent of Amsterdam) and then you see the shop, ha.
Accomodation in Amsterdam is expensive
When planning your visit to Amsterdam, take into account, that accomodation is expensive in Amsterdam! Before going to Amsterdam, we checked AirBnB and to our horror we saw that average price was above 200 euro per night. Luckily we have a friend, who offered us to stay in his appartment.
But you can be smarter – book accomodation like one month in advance. It still will be quite expensive, but not that expensive. And you will have more options to choose from. Now we see, that there are also rooms quite close to the city center for 70-80 euro per night.
The price for a dorm bed in a hostel is 25 – 30 euro.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What are your thoughts about Amsterdam?
Most of the photos for this article are taken by Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. It’s a smartphone with 20 Mpx camera and 10x optical zoom. And it currently is our main camera. We have it for some time thanks to Samsung Latvia.
Author: Una Baufala
Una is a traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. Apart from traveling and exploring new places she loves to read books. And she adores cats. Together with Kaspars they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since October 2013. WeAreFromLatvia.com is where she shares her travel experiences.