It’s been over four months since I moved from London to Amsterdam and while I’m used to most things now there are always going to be cultural differences that take you by surprise.
These are just 15 quirky Dutch things from an English girl in Amsterdam:
1. Crossing the road takes longer than you might expect. What with a main road having two cycle paths, two lanes for cars and the occasional tram, looking both ways for traffic can give you a sore neck.
2. Dutch people don’t close their curtains. Like, ever. It is a nosy parkers dream but can be pretty awkward. Most of the time I think I’m looking into a shop window before I spot someone in their pants eating Cornflakes. (I haven’t learned the Dutch equivalent for Cornflakes yet.)
3. The Dutch stand next to each other on escalators. This seems like such a minor thing but would NEVER happen in London. But here, you’re standing on the right hand side minding your own business and a complete stranger will come and stand next to you, practically holding your hand.
4. Speaking of public transport, nobody really rushes either. I am yet to see anyone running down the escalators for the Metro, or even walking for that matter. People only break into a slight power walk when the train door is literally about to close.
5. The Metro is a million types better than the London underground. 95% of the time you get a seat and you never have to stand under anyone’s armpit or take an elbow to the face before 9am.
6. Dutch chocolate kicks English chocolate’s arse. Salted caramel Tony’s Chocolonely bars are my raison d’être.
7. Grown men eat chocolate sprinkles for breakfast. True story. If you go to your local supermarket you’ll find more different types of chocolate sprinkles than you will types of bread. Chocolate, white chocolate, blue, pink, you name it. The Dutch are also waaay into chocolate spread.
8. There’s no such thing as a lactose-intolerant Dutchie. (This is a massive generalisation, there probably is. Maybe one.) Generally a typical Dutch lunch is a glass of milk and a cheese sandwich.
9. People are super, super friendly. People say hi in the lift, the bus driver asks you how you are – it’s a revelation.
10. Everyone is super chic in a totally casual way. Since pretty much everyone cycles heels just aren’t always practical. Young Dutch women are the queens of casual chic, they’re all about fashion-forward flats, New Balance trainers, ripped jeans, woollen coats and cute back packs and tote bags. However, I’ve been warned about Dutch women’s penchant for white leggings…
11. You barely ever see anyone in a suit, even on the commute to work (and my work is in the same building as a bank!)
12. Flowers are everywhere. Amsterdam is like one giant flower market and the flowers are always super cheap. 2 euros for a bunch of tulips? Bargain.
13. Food is very beige, not that I’m complaining. Think cheese, bread, anything deep fried and covered in sugar.
14. Supermarkets are amazing. The big chain over here, Albert Heijn, has a free coffee machine in almost every store and big orange juicers where you can squeeze your own fresh orange juice. Plus all the chocolate sprinkles you could ever want.
15. Riding a bike really is ‘just like riding a bike’ you never forget how to do it (although it doesn’t mean you get any better at it).