When we lived in Amsterdam in September 2012 we were just a few streets away from Vondelpark and I loved it. We cycled around that park almost every day and a few times a week I'd swap two wheels for a pair of trainers, a good 2-3 mile route depending on how energetic I was feeling.
When we returned to Amsterdam in the summer of 2013, we moved a bit further away from Vondelpark, to the De Pijp neighbourhood. No longer walking distance to our beloved Vondelpark, we turned to Sarphatipark just down our new road to give us the green and the space we had craved.
I'll always remember my first run around Sarphatipark. I jogged my way along the street and charged into one of the park's entrances. A few minutes later I'd done a circuit and was back where I'd started. It seems we'd slightly underestimated how big the park was. From then until recently I've given Sarphatipark a bit of a hard time; too small to run around, a bike-free zone, full of people pushing prams, too many dogs barking loudly and chasing away the ducks.
But as I've had to start taking things a bit easier with pregnancy, walking around a park the size of Sarphatipark has proved the perfect amount of daily exercise. It's followed that I've started to fall in love with this small but perfectly formed park with its butterfly area, territorial Canadian geese (who have just recently started a family), public urban gym and giant sandpit playground for kids. They also have free plastic picnic blankets and a dedicated area with picnic tables that's often taken over with balloons and local families having parties.
The other day I walked around Sarphatipark and I thought about how much more of an important role this park is going to play in our lives. It's going to be me pushing a pram around getting in the way of runners who don't realise they've picked the wrong park to run around.
Yes, it's true, Sarphatipark. I quite like you now.
A little story about that last photo. One evening we went for a walk and from the other side of the lake there, we saw this dog running at top speed down the path and then jumping into the bushes and disappearing. Seconds later we heard a bark and then the dog appeared again, and he/she did the exact same thing racing away and then jumping into the bushes. We watched the dog repeat this five, six maybe seven times before its pace slowed and it got bored. The following morning I went for a morning stroll and was on the other side of the water when the same dog bolted by me doing exactly the same thing. I also spotted his owner, just sitting on a bench watching his dog doing its thing.
If you're coming to Amsterdam soon be sure to read my Amsterdam Neighbourhood Guide, catch up on all my Amsterdam travel tips and find out all about those Before I die blackboards! I also share places I love on my Instagram feed if you search the #amsterbirdie hashtag.
Frances M. Thompson
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