When i drew up my bucket list, Amsterdam was the first city i wrote down in the section of places where I want to stay a little longer than a fun weekend away. After St Petersburg and Medellin, it is the third city i am now getting to see. i have been here many times with work or privately, but always felt there is more to this great city and its people than a short visit would reveal. My first visit private visit was in 2000 after a nights long rave at the Hanover world expo, the last one in October 2016 where i got stuck in heavy fog (bonus night for me i guess). This time i give myself more time to immerse myself here. Let’s see how that goes!
So what’s the plan? Learning a little Dutch is a thing of courtesy and hopefully less painful than Russian. Then the ambition is to also to work if I can find something. Let’s see how this will pan out. What i really look forward is meeting friends / family from Germany (Frances, Steve, Max already signed up), some of the many Dutch people i met on my journey such as Jan (Issad farm experience) or Frits (Diamond Muay Thai) and a visit from a very good friend from far away. Fun times ahead.
Setting in slowly: Since my language course only kicked off Monday, I had the best part of last week to settle in. After settling into my studio in Haarlemmerbuurt, which is right by baba coffee shop, I spent most time strolling through town, watching football and celebrating St Patrick’s day. Given the expectedly long list of visitors in the next weeks, i skipped visiting museums for now. i love the architecture here in a city on the shores of the same water that runs through london and st petersburg. its just amazing to get lost in Amsterdam, wander along the canals and check the vibe in bars, cafes and coffee shops. Sadly, the cold weather gave me my first flu of the year. should have stayed in thailand a little longer ;o)
Top bars / pubs so far
- Cafe Chaos: Formerly an orphanage nicely decorated with lots of angel figures. As tradition goes, you through the empty peanut shells on the floor (no joke) as the oil is apparently good for the floor.
- Grasshopper: A touch touristic, but always feels good to stop by for a beer or two.
- De Sluyswacht: Fantastic ambiente in this little pub/cafe. Just take a look at the picture and you will understand. Biggest memory is the weekend that I spent here with Tibo in 2010 – when the icelandic volcano eruption grounded world travel … purple stuff everywhere ;o)
- Blarney Stone: An irish pub right in the centre that is close enough to walk over for a footie match, or indeed, St Patrick’s.
First days back at school: Learning dutch is so far much less painful than any other language. Its a mix of German, English and Swedish. Homework is usually done very quickly, as i don’t stumble over all the small words that drive me crazy in other languages and the grammar is very much like german. however, understanding what people say on the street will still take a while (especially since everyone speaks english here). The school (http://www.dutchcoursesamsterdam.nl/) feels a bit different than the schools in St. Pete or Medellin.
There are 6 of us in the beginner class – from Italy, India, Australia, Switzerland and Germany. Most of the students live here already a while (partners, work etc) and now take up the studies. So not people that just visit for a few weeks, as was the case in other schools. there are no group activities after class, which is a bit sad. One challenge for me is to juggle learning three languages at once – dutch, russian and spanish. teachers kindly scaled back the homework outside dutch a little. Still, i am looking at 40 hours of language related time (school, skype lessons, homework) each week. So it certainlky doesnt get boring.