15 quirky Dutch things – a Londoner in Amsterdam

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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).

Americano Bar & Kitchen, Amsterdam

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Americano Bar & Kitchen is an Italian-American inspired restaurant at the edge of de Pijp in Amsterdam . It’s right on the Amstel river, a handy 5 minute walk from our house and was the perfect place to take Matt for his birthday dinner.

The interior is totally dreamy and everything looks like it came out of an Anthropologie show room. Gold accents and interesting accessories were EVERYWHERE. Just look at that swan tap!

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We started the evening at the bar with a couple of cocktails and had a good chat with the barman.

Unfortunately, the Dutch are not revered for their customer service. In fact it has a reputation for being generally a bit pants, something I have experienced a couple of times since moving here.

So I was relieved when we experienced the best customer service I’ve had in Amsterdam. Granted, it was a quieter Tuesday night but the service at Americano was above and beyond thanks to the host/barman/waiter extraordinaire, Mark. (Thanks, Mark!)

I am a creature of comfort and stuck with the tried and tested Espresso Martini but Matt went for a ‘Tommy Gun’ cocktail which was served in a tall pasta jar with ‘gun smoke’ – the hipster rating was through the roof.

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imageWe chose a table by the window and enjoyed a meat sharing platter to start. SO MUCH FOOD. The sausages were especially delicious.


imageimageimageMatt then went for the veal with saffron rice croquettes which he loved and I went for the small portion of the carbonara and a rocket salad.

The pasta was really tasty but I was just so full from the massive starter that I couldn’t finish it. So attempted to move the leftovers around my plate like a sneaky child to make it look like I’d eaten more…

Unfortunately we were so stuffed that we didn’t make it to dessert. But I’ve got my eye on that chocolate parfait and with the restaurant being so close it would be rude not to go back and try it.

Americano  is a great choice if you’re looking for somewhere slightly fancy but still relaxed with good service and even better food. We will definitely be returning soon (even if it’s just for dessert!).

Dim sum at Happyhappyjoyjoy, Amsterdam

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I love asian food – be it Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean or Thai. So I was Happyhappyjoyjoy to find out I could find it all under roof, in walking distance of our apartment.

Happyhappyjoyjoy is relatively new and is a hip and happening place to get Asian street food in West Amsterdam. So hip and happening in fact that we had to wait over two weeks for a table.

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Fortunately, it was well worth the wait. The restaurant is an explosion of colour and the ceiling is covered in red parasols – making all my pictures look slightly like they were taken in a photographer’s dark room. The atmosphere was buzzing and our waiter was super friendly.

We sat down, ordered a lychee juice and a ‘cheeky’ beer and perused the extensive menu. Happyhappyjoyjoy recommend about 3-4 plates each. Challenge accepted and then some.

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I had the best dim sum I have EVER had.  The duck gyoza was just the right amount of squishy yet crispy and the beef was crispy and delicious.

We shared three types of Bao. Pork was the winner for me but I would gladly eat all three again.

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Followed by stir fried chicken with cashews and red curry with beef, both served with sticky jasmine rice. The stir fried chicken was my favourite part of the meal – sticky chicken and cashews is a winning combination.

By this point I was ready to roll home but Matt wanted to try the mango bao for dessert. He loved it, I thought it was okay (weird). Tasted like a sugared doughnut you’d get from a circus, stuffed with mango and ice-cream. Which I can imagine is up most people’s streets but not for me, thanks.

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It’s my new favourite food find in Amsterdam and we loved it so much we booked to come back in a couple of weeks time.

How a-bao-t it? Check out the menu and book yourself a table.