Monday, May 9, 2011

Friendly Amsterdam

I have, so far, lived in Texas, Louisiana, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, Japan, the United Kingdom and now the Netherlands. In the process of all of this I have moved around 33 times, though I suspect I have forgotten a couple of moves. In addition to those moves, I have also travelled very extensively and have friends in  a quite a few countries. In short, I think it's fair to say that I have a bit of experience in different places and cultures and I have to say that so far, the Dutch have been the friendliest, most outgoing people I have encountered. This has been a pleasant surprise given how many times I have read that the Dutch are "reserved" and that "it's tough to get to know them."

Shortly after moving in, my wife and I had already met out neighbors on either side, strangers came by with gifts for our soon-to-be daughter, and we had been invited to New Year's dinner with another couple further down the street. Last Saturday, though my wife and I had not planned to go anywhere, we took a brief stroll through Rembrandtpark. On our way back, the neighbors on the corner, Rim and Dorine, invited us to sit outside with them. They were sitting on chairs out front, chatting with other neighbors and as the evening wore on, we were joined by quite a crowd of interesting people. Though unexpected, it was a great evening.

Amsterdam Canal
Not sure, but I think I took this at the Leidsegracht in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam

The next day we took a stroll down a lovely tree-lined canal, with warm weather and a slight breeze and again, I'm amazed at the beauty of this city. Combine that with how incredibly friendly everyone has been and both my wife and and really falling in love with this city.


  1. Of all the places I have traveled, Amsterdam is my FAVORITE and the Dutch are simply the most civilized people I have ever spent time with. You are so lucky to get to live there!

  2. Now, Amsterdam isn't Holland like New York isn't the US. Often people only meet their neighbours through "cultural passports": kids, dogs, or a hobby like sporting school or volunteering. It strongly depends on the buildings, and the type of buildings (koop-woningen or huur-woningen). People are fast to say hello but outside of small villages it doesn't necessarily go further than that... sometimes for years.
    When I was in the US I lived on a street where everyone knew everyone, and it was great. I credit that to lower income level (the higher the income, the less people seem to socialise) and a quiet set of streets with lots of kids and dogs. People were always out in their yards and you'd stop and yak with them.

    Where I live now, it's a building with maisonettes, few kids and no dogs, and no yards (just balconies). People are friendly enough, but you don't actually know them.

    It's possible that tighter living quarters in Amsterdam, also with it being filled with a general greater diversity of people than some medium-sized village, contributes to a friendlier (or at least looser) atmosphere there.