First Impressions: Amsterdam

First impressions aren't indicative of what your overall experience of a place will be but I do think they are important. Not least I'd like to remember them and look back in three months time and see if I still think the same thing...

And these are my first impressions of Amsterdam.

The clanging of metal as neighbours unlock and unravel their bike chains has woken me up every morning I've been here so far and the same sound can be heard on and off throughout the day, throughout the city. I already know it's a sound that will remind me of Amsterdam after I've gone.

My first step off the tram nearly resulted in me getting hit by a bike flying past in the cycle lanes that line most streets. I felt so stupid and foreign and clumsy, but I'm glad. It's important to get these awkward feelings out of the way, as they are inevitable when you arrive somewhere new.

The sirens don't sound like sirens. They don't pierce our ears and they sound more festive, almost happy, compared to London's deafening doom filled shrieks. (I'm aware this statement stinks of bad taste!)

It is grey here. But it is a different shade of grey to the grey that cloaks London, it feels lighter and more manageable; less grim. Though the rain is just as wet.

There's a supermarket chain here that doesn't accept cards, and then there numerous other shops and restaurants, which dont take cash. I see Amsterdam, you want to keep me on my toes!

Rows and rows of parked bikes crowd the footpaths like they have greater importance than pedestrians and because the majority of the bikes are the grand, upright Dutch style of bike I feel helpless to argue with them.

But my goodness it's fun cycling in Amsterdam. You automatically feel part of something. My new-to-me bike, who I've called Tulip because of a small tulip design detail on her frame, squeaks and clicks as I bounce along behind NewMan. We've ridden our bikes everyday so far and I don't want that to stop.

People are friendly, but not in a fake, fickle or overly intense way. They like to talk, to communicate, to discuss common ground and they seem to like to help. I base this on very limited experience, namely conversations with the landlord of our nearest pub, the owner and a regular customer of a sandwich shop we stopped in and a stylish young man in a suit shop who kitted NewMan out with some nearly as stylish threads for a friend's upcoming wedding. They all spoke superb English though each claimed to know only a bit.

I am completely intimidated by knowing less than ten words in Dutch, but I am filled with enthusiasm at the prospect of learning useful fragments of a new language.

( I am now on Facebook. Like me if you do...)

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

Posts you may also like:
Family Travel: How to Travel with Kids - My Golden RulesFamily Travel: How to Travel with Kids - My Golden RulesAmsterdam Photography: Amsterdam in the SnowAmsterdam Photography: Amsterdam in the SnowAmsterdam Travel: Best Luxury Hotels in Amsterdam - Reviewed!Amsterdam Travel: Best Luxury Hotels in Amsterdam - Reviewed!Solo Luxury Travel: Best Caribbean Islands for Solo TravellersSolo Luxury Travel: Best Caribbean Islands for Solo TravellersAmsterdam Staycation: The Best Tips, Ideas & Hotels for a Staycation in AmsterdamAmsterdam Staycation: The Best Tips, Ideas & Hotels for a Staycation in Amsterdam