I visited Amsterdam 2 years ago for the first time and felt like it was kind of a city I have always wanted to live in. Not to mention I was still inside of Schiphol Plaza when this happened. I had very high hopes about June 2015 few months back from now. Although I had a major up and an immediate down on the earlier days, my A’dam trip restored all that happened. Thanks to good karma, mother nature and all other good forces in the universe, my 2-days business trip became a 10-days stay in Amsterdam at first, then it had to be extended due to several reasons so I spent 16 lovely days in Amsterdam. I spent my first days at a hotel on Zuid which is more like a business district therefore hotel itself was full of white-collar workers from all over the world. But unfortunately they had no idea how to cheer their breakfast with hagelslag. Dutch people are said to consume over 14 million kilos of hagelslag each year which in my opinion is the reason why they are so happy and motivated at work. The real Dutch way of morning commute is to cycle of course. If you have no idea how to ride a bicycle (just like me), you can definitely count on public transportation. Google Maps gives 100% accurate results when you look for directions. Just plan your journey ahead because being punctual is a must. You can pay cash whether it is a bus or tram but I do not really suggest you to go that way if you are likely to spend more than few days because it is not going to be cheap. Having an OV-chipkaart is the easiest way to deal with this. There are few things to keep in mind:
- You need to load a separate Nachtbus ticket into your card if you are going to use the night bus.
- You need to get a separate ticket for the train.
- Remember to practise how to pronounce “Goedemorgen” or “Goededag“.
- There is free WiFi on Connexxion busses.
- And you need to remember to check-in and to CHECK-OUT. Otherwise 20 Euro fee will be deducted from your card.
The best thing about being in the south was to discover Beatrix Park for my evening runs. But after spending few days there, I said goodbye to my WTC view and moved into my Airbnb flat. Luckily I got help with my 18-KG luggage and did not need to carry it up through those steep stairs. Otherwise I would just leave it at the front door and take my stuff whenever I needed them. I like it when I have no plans and when something pop ups at the last minute. This is how I spent my first Friday night there with a group of Dutch people at Bitterzoet. They say Dutch people are direct but I have never had a problem with it so far. In fact, I find it better because everything is on the surface and there is nothing hidden. On my way to Bitterzoet I had my “I cannot find food whenever I like” problem. I am used to have 7/24 access to food in İstanbul so I found it quite hard when I had to chase my food. So it was around midnight and I was really starving. An Italian restaurant was my only option. The moment I walked in, a waiter took my arm, danced with me a little bit, hold my hand while taking my order. All I wanted to have was some unhealthy food however I found myself having pizza at a romantic place while having a flirty Italian on the side. The night at the Bitterzoet was really good, but seeing the city waking up was way better than that. So I met an incredibly nice girl named Irene some months ago in Amsterdam, with whom I shared few beers and who carried me and my luggage at the back of her bicycle which makes her my personal super woman! She invited me to a festival for Saturday and though I had no idea what it was about, I said “Yes!” (as “Yes Man” is my new motto). I first went to her place to meet her super duper cute dog and gave it 3 kisses as it is the Dutch way. I was convinced once more that it is impossible to be unhappy when you have a dog around. Then we went to a super place called Teds to have some lunch before the festival. And if you ask how I got there, well history repeated itself and Irene, the super woman, saved me once more. I definitely recommend Teds and their Eggs Norwegian (or anything else on their menu). The place gives you a true gezellig experience. In order not to push Irene’s human-carrying skills anymore, I joined a taxi ride with two other guys of the group when we hit the road to Sloterpark for Mystic Garden Festival. You do not really have language barrier problem in Amsterdam because pretty much anyone can speak in English. But everybody is free to speak in Dutch even if there is a Turkish girl in the cab. These guys were incredibly nice and kind to me, tried to keep the whole conversation in English so that I would not need to stare out the window and i think I cried 1.000 tears on the inside because my body is very sensitive to this level of kindness. One of them even carried my back pack during the WHOLE festival. Dirk, I love you so much for that. Festival was a great fun, and the group I went there with was even better. Irene, I love you for inviting me over and carrying me all the way. Next day I had a huge hangover but a late breakfast at Greenwoods, Sunday beers at Cafe Belgique and some tapas at Olivar happened to be the perfect cure to this. After having a great weekend, I was so ready for the new week. Duration of my morning commute increased a little bit but somehow this did not bother me at all. I woke up, had my large 3 Euro early bird coffee at Buongiorno, did my shopping either at Albert Heijn or Hema, discovered parks such as Rembrandtpark, Erasmuspark and Flevopark (Vondelpark is for tourists…), listened silent concerts at Museumplein and, well basically had my own version of local life. For Istanbulites having all 3 meals outside is something common whereas cooking all the time is not. It is quite opposite in Amsterdam so I had some attempts to follow up the local way. There are cool places such as Stach where you can grab your gourmet dinner and all you need to do is to heat it at home. Aaaaand you are done! So you can just go out to your balcony and enjoy the warm weather and your lekker dinner. Living in Amsterdam gave me opportunity to be one step closer to great pubs and breweries. As a real beer girl, I fulfilled my vows and paid a visit to each and every single one of them. My very personal favorites are O’Donnell’s, O’reilly’s, Gollem (both), Cafe de Walvis, Brouwerij ‘t IJ and Dan Murphy’s. All of them are in different parts of the city and very worth to check out. I already said that finding munchies was a problem for me but if you happen to see one of these places where you can get a kroket for 1,5 Euro or a delicious burger for 2 Euro, just go for it. Remember, you only live once. I worked hard. I chilled out. I had after-work drinks with colleagues. I met a guy who is writing a book about quagga (And what is a quagga? (I know, right?)). I drank beer, lots of good beer. I had food, lots of unhealthy food. I had hotel rooms. I had real homes. Heatwave came, so I chilled out more. I was alone. Then I was not alone. I BBQed. I had a blind date with a book. I did not have a blind date with a guy. I woke up and saw the sun. I went to bed and saw the last glimpse of the sun. All of these made me happy, very happy. I was a traveler in Amsterdam two years ago, and now it became my second home.