Amsterdam is like Back to the Future in an alternate universe: uber-cool young people transported through time to a city that looks like a Rembrandt painting come to life. It's perfect.
Amsterdam is a more touristy city than almost-nearby Berlin; the streets swell with people speaking multiple languages and taking tours. The tourist vibe is strongest in the center of the city, and mellows as you move outward. I feel most connected to the city while wandering the De Pijp neighborhood early in the mornings - the city is quiet, the birds are not, and the occasional Local passes on a bike on their way to work. It's in these moments I realize I could definitely move here + love it. Below are my stream of consciousness notes about the city, written on my flight home...
The colors of the city are black, white - like an off-white, and brick-brown.
There are endless bicycles. Bikes on top of bikes! Bikes chained to bikes!
The canals don't smell like anything. Which is nice.
Street signs have a lot of "AA"s and "UU"s and words that seem to go on forever.
Honestly, everyone on television sounded like 'Chef' from the muppets. YouTube it. Amazing.
Not as many vegan cafe's as Berlin, but found a grocery store called 'Ekoplaza' that had the same vegan Salami tried in Berlin. Addictive.
SLA! So fucking good. Is their cookbook in English?
English was widely spoken. Most menus in Dutch and English. Some TV commercials were in all English too...
Legal Weed Cafes are called "coffee shops". Tried one; exciting at first, but felt weird to be high surrounded by strangers. Guy across from us got violently sick by slamming through a joint in 4 minutes...felt bad for him. Also gross.
All the buildings have hooks on pulleys at the top. They're built leaning forward on purpose to get furniture into the building through the windows! Stairs and hallways are so narrow you have to move a bathtub in through a window...we were lucky enough to see this. Looked like a cartoon in action.
Staircases are very narrow and wildly steep! Like climbing a ladder that looks like a staircase. Note to self - don't attempt drunk.
There are a set number of houseboats on the canals in the city. You buy the permit from the city, and then separately buy the houseboat from the owners. Permits usually cost more than the house itself!
You can buy a boat and go anywhere without a permit if you travel under a certain speed.
Stedelijk museum looks like a bathtub.
I officially need a bike now.
Red light district is strange. Narrow alleys, windows with clinical curtains and women dressed as strippers standing in them. They all look bored. Not a sexy place.
Tram is very, very clean and runs on tracks like San Francisco's cable cars.
Did I mention I want a bike now?