Never in my wildest dream that I’ll set my foot in Amsterdam. I can still remember the feeling that I had when I’m about to leave Philippines for the first time. I can’t seem to move my butt from where I am seated as I wait for boarding. I had multiple of friends bidding their goodbyes through social media accounts. I’ll surely miss my comfort zone but I was looking forward to this. I had plans of going abroad but never in my wildest dream that it would be somewhere in Europe. So here it goes…
I had two stop-overs, one in Taiwan and the other in Bangkok. After the long hours of travel which is approximately 20 hours of travel including lay-overs, I finally reached my destination. When I got off the plane seeing different colours of skin tone and overheard people speaking in a language that I am not familiar with. (Yeah, it is Dutch). There I realized that it wasn’t a dream, that I was really in Amsterdam, that I wasn’t in my beloved Davao City anymore. When I got out of the airport which is Schiphol, I felt the cold air and I saw the big ” I amsterdam” and the excitement just caught me. It literally had me jumping and taking video of myself telling all my friends and family that I made it. That I was really in Amsterdam and this is no dream or sort of an illusion. But, I have to keep my poise, let my excitement cool for awhile and observe so that I’ll be able to live, blend in their culture. For the past few weeks that I’ve been here and living peacefully. These are my observations: (Of course, we have different view points and some of the informations I had was because I was eager to learn and know what their culture is. So, I keep on asking and that is how I came up with this article)
- You need to be an Educated Cyclist. If you are a first-timer, you should know that you can’t just cycle all you want and where you want because they have bicycle lanes and if you are not careful, most probably you’ll be in trouble. Traffic rules here includes bicycles because the main transportation used here in Amsterdam is bicycle. Yeah, you heard me right. Bicycles! For example when you are going to your right and left, you should signal and use your hand simply pointing it to the direction where you want to go. When you are on the bicycle lane and you don’t want go relatively fast, you can just stay at your the right because they overtake through your left. And, you also need to turn your lights on during the night or else the cars won’t see you. Plus, you don’t want to get a ticket of 60 euros for not having your lights on during the night. Make sure you check if it is busted or not.
- Dining out is Relatively Expensive. Typical dutch people don’t usually dine out because it is expensive and they can make hearty meals at home. (But, it still depends, this is only based on my observation) For a couple of times that I’ve been in the centrum, it is usually tourists who are in the restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. In my case, it is really expensive since I still have the tendency to convert Euro to Philippine peso. And, I can also say that it is expensive because water is not for free. You need to pay for it and you get to choose if you want is sparkling or still. Haha! That is why when I go out, I always bring water and sort of biscuits so that I don’t spend that much.
- Sinterklaas is Surreal. Sinterklaas is not Santa Claus. Let me be clear with that. I thought Sinterklaas is the name of Santa Claus here in the Netherlands. But, nope! He is totally a different persona. It is said that Sinterklaas is really from Spain and he is visiting the Netherlands to give gifts to children. After December 5 which is basically December 6 he goes back to Spain and then Christmas finally starts. What is amazing about is that there are a lot of chocolates, like tons of chocolate. Including the popular Pepernoten that comes out every Sinterklaas only. Typical dutch people they celebrate it. The children, they really believe that Sinterklaas is true not until they reach a certain age weighing whether he is really true or not. But, on my case I’ve seen how excited the kids were when opening the presents they’ve received from Sinterklaas on December 5 evening. ‘Twas really great!
- Coffee Shops and Cafe. Cannabis or Marijuana is legal here in Amsterdam. I sort of call Amsterdam or the Netherlands as a free country. Like, literally! One thing I observed and learned over time is that. Coffee shops and cafes are different. If you want to have coffee. Like enjoy a cup of hot latte, you go to a CAFE and when you want to enjoy cannabis and hangout, you go to a COFFEE SHOP.
Relatively Near. When you want to go somewhere here in Amsterdam, it is relatively near. Everywhere you go is relatively near. You get on your bike, scooter, tram or car and you’ll be in your destination for less than 10 minutes or so. There are no traffics and not to mention they value time. So, whenever you are in a tram stop and you are tourist, you’ll see how many minutes you have to wait until the next tram you want to get. They also have an app, the 9292 in which you’ll know the specific time of each tram. It will also help you to know which tram to get on if ever you need to go somewhere. Amazing!
- Mix of Culture. There are actually a lot of nationalities living here in Amsterdam. The diversity in culture is really great and people here are living harmoniously. For the past few weeks that I’ve been here. I can attest that I encounter a lot of people in different culture and languages as I walk around Amsterdam. The dutch people give respect to different kinds of opinion and way of living of each individual. They don’t meddle in other’s affair.
Actually, there are still a lot of things I haven’t mention but there is more to discover and to learn. I’ve been here for a month now and I’m still on the adjustment period. But, I know I’ll be writing more soon about Netherlands. Wait for it! ♥