This time last week I was strolling around Amsterdam without a care in the world. No thoughts about my looming dissertation, assignments, exam or the other million worries I have about final year. I was taking in the sights of Dam Square, Vondelpark and every canal bridge that we could find. Oh how I’d love to be back there right now.
Six of my PR classmates and I (yes, there’s only seven of us!) arrived at Liverpool John Lennon Airport at 5.30am on Saturday morning, ready for our 7am flight. The flight was super quick and we arrived in Amsterdam around 10am their time.
We were there as part of our Events Management module and were to help out at the New Renaissance Film Festival where our lecturer had won an award for a movie he worked on the year previous.
New Renaissance Film Festival
We spent the Saturday and Sunday at Lab 111 watching independent films and assisting the two founders of the festival, Massimo Barbato and Jan Hendrik Verstraten. A few of the screenings even had the directors present and so ended with a Q&A with them which was very insightful. We really enjoyed the Saturday evening set of movies and one of the directors had even won an Oscar!
The Sunday was the awards ceremony for the festival and we got all glammed up and were ready to toast the winners. The awards day was the best with Lady Galore hosting and us being able to see snippets of all the movies that had been showcased over the weekend.
The event was very relaxed and it was great to mingle with so many creatives from all over the world and to see them recognised for their work. The director of one of Years and Years music videos was even a nominee for an award!
And it wouldn’t be like me to miss an opportunity in front of a media wall…
When in Dam
Oh my word did I fall in love with Amsterdam. It was my first time in the city and I’ve always wanted to visit, but it exceeded all expectations. It may be a city, but there was nothing city-like about it. There were no skyscraper buildings, no buildings made of glass, no men running around in suits, no locals pushing tourists out of their way and just no general busyness that a city usually has.
The buildings along the canals were very quaint and most of them lopsided, but the small streets added so much character to the place. Plus the number of bikes was something to take in. I think a lot of cities could take a leaf out of Amsterdam’s book and introduce cycling as a way to get around the city. We didn’t see that many cars as bicycle and tram seemed to be the chosen mode of transport for everyone and the cars that we did see were electric.
There was something extremely relaxing about Amsterdam and it seemed they had sussed that city/life balance.
One thing we did notice was that they loved to exercise. We were strolling through VondelPark on the Saturday morning around 11.30am and we were the only people in the park walking. Everyone else was either running, cycling or doing circuits in groups on the grass. Most of us are used to being hungover in bed on a Saturday morning, not up and exercising with the rest of the city’s population in the park. It made all of us think that we may be a lot healthier and fitter if we were to move to Amsterdam.
We were lucky to have both Saturday and Sunday evenings free as well as all of Monday so that we could explore Amsterdam while being there to help out with the event. On the Saturday evening we headed to an Italian for dinner and then took in the sights of the Red Light District. A very eye-opening experience for all of us, I’m sure it will be something that we will never forget. But when you’re in Amsterdam, it’s something you must go to see.
Since we had all been up from 4am, we didn’t hit too many bars on the Saturday night but still managed to wake up with a sore head on the Sunday morning as I forgot it was a bad idea to mix gin, prosecco, white wine and pink gin all in one night.
On the Sunday, the awards ceremony finished around 4pm which meant we had time to find an Irish bar in the city to watch the Liverpool and Everton derby. Luckily as we arrived in O’Reilly’s near Dam Square, a large group were just leaving so the seven of us got seated underneath a TV screen. You can take the Irish girl out of Liverpool but I still managed to have my Sunday roast in an Irish pub while watching the Liverpool game. It may not have been McCooley’s but it definitely did the trick. The match on the other hand… Well, we’ll not talk about it.
On Monday we all wakened early to make the most of the full day we had to explore. We took the tram into the city centre to take a photo at the I Amsterdam sign. Only to find it had been removed six months earlier. Amsterdam ‘Gram points deducted. So instead we went on the hunt for the one famous canal bridge that everyone got their photos in front of… or so Monique thought. There were plenty of bridges and opportunities for that cliché Dam photo and we all made sure we got the right one.
We walked around Dam Square, all the little streets around Amsterdam and fell in love with the city. And while we were there, we couldn’t not visit the Sex Museum that everyone talked about. It wasn’t the biggest museum I’ve ever been to and I think we spent around an hour or less there but I’d say it was worth the 5 euro, even if just to get the other cliché photo with the giant… if you know, you know.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon in a café because… When in Dam, right? And then headed to a Chinese on the canal for dinner before ending the night with some amazing chocolate-covered churros that I couldn’t finish. Oh, one thing I noticed was that Diet Coke is in very limited supply over there – for what reason, I just don’t know. Can I have a job at Coca Cola and help make Diet Coke a thing in Amsterdam? Please and thanks.
Do Amsterdamians have it sussed?
Before you critique, I know ‘Amsterdamians’ is not a thing but I like the sound to it. If you’re Dutch and reading this and are completely offended, I do apologise. However, the way of life in Amsterdam just seems to be so much better than anywhere I’ve ever visited (which isn’t many places I might add).
Their love of exercise, relaxed attitude and openness of sex and drugs just make it such an attractive city. There are no taboos in Amsterdam; everything is on display (literally) and surprisingly, even though it’s legal in Amsterdam, Liverpool smells worse of weed than Amsterdam does. Perhaps because it’s legal, people don’t feel the need to do it as much? Then you could say if we made crime legal that it would deter people from breaking the law but I highly doubt that would be the case.
I honestly think I would move to Amsterdam tomorrow if I could. Even just for six months. The architecture is stunning and old and extremely quaint. I probably wouldn’t drink as much and I would spend my weekends exercising – now there’s a dream situation. The language barrier would be an issue but I’d be happy to learn some Dutch and improve my language skills. I’ve said before that I would love to challenge myself by living somewhere English isn’t the first language and I think Amsterdam would be a great place to do this.
So, would I recommend Amsterdam? Absolutely. It is a little expensive where food and drink are concerned, but that’s to be expected in a city popular with tourists. I don’t think there would be as much to do there as say London, but it would be a nice place to live for a short while. Who’s to know what the future holds, but I hope to be back sometime very soon.