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).

Relocating to Amsterdam

2016 is going to be a little different – I’m going to be starting my new year, with a new job in a new country.

My boyfriend was offered a job at his work’s office in Amsterdam and after some deliberation (Him: Would you like to move to Amsterdam? Me: Yes, please) we decided to jump at the chance.

Amsterdam canal

I applied for a job and got it, so as far as I’m concerned the hard part is over. Now, I can just enjoy all the lovely things about moving somewhere new. Something I find both exciting and scary.

Exciting because relocating to a different country means new opportunities, new friends, new experiences and maybe even learning a new language.

Scary because, urr, have you heard Dutch? The phrase ‘double Dutch’ exists for a reason. Plus, there’s the new job jitters and what if there’s nobody fun in the whole of Amsterdam that wants to hang out with me?

Things I want to achieve in my first year in Amsterdam

Amsterdam houses and canal in summer.

Bearing in mind the scary:exciting ratio I thought a few goals would help me make the most of my first year in the Netherlands.

  • See more of the Netherlands. Some of it looks like a fairytale dream and I already have Utrecht and Leiden on my list.
  • See more of Europe, in particular: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy and Portugal.
  • Join a club. I joined a couple of netball teams when I moved to London and I made some fab friends (although we did eventually swap netball for regular dinner dates). I’m not sure the Netherlands has really embraced netball so I might have to settle for yoga instead.
  • Cycle! I am not  a natural on a bicycle but living in a country where there are more bikes than people might force me to reconsider my opinion on traveling on two wheels.
  • Learn conversational Dutch – or at least expand upon ‘ ik speekt geen Nederlands’ (I can’t speak Dutch!)

Image: WeHeartIt

USPAAH – the mobile spa app

USPAAH logo

Do USPAAH? You certainly should. USPAAH caters to all of your mobile spa needs. Need a mani but have no time to go to a salon? USPAAH has got you covered.

All you have to do is download the app, choose your treatment and a dedicated Sparista will arrive at your door, armed with spa essentials and a smile.

I was invited to the USPAAH event this week held at the super swanky Amanda Wakeley flagship store (told you it was fancy) in Mayfair to mooch about on the beautiful staircase see some of the Sparistas in action.

Amanda Wakely store entrance

 

Vogue magazines at Amanda Wakely USPAAH event

Drinking champagne at Amanda Wakely

I perused Ms Wakeley’s new collection, found the electric blue bag of my dreams, sunk some champagne and enjoyed some of the treatments USPAAH has to offer.

I have never been one to turn down a massage, I made a beeline for an empty massage chair and was in Andrea’s expert hands. Hands of an angel (which I’ve now taken to believe is the reason for the wings in the USPAAH logo). The massage was great, just the right amount of pressure, and I was chuffed to find out that you can request certain Sparistas through the app too,  so you can have the same specialist each time if you wish (Andrea and I are going to become firm friends, she just doesn’t know it yet).

The idea behind the app is that it fits into your busy lifestyle; the Sparistas appear within the hour so you can have them come out to your home, work, even your garden shed if you’re that way inclined. (If you can afford a garden, let alone a shed in London then I envy you.)

The app is only London based at the moment but I quite like the idea of having a ladies weekend in the big city and getting ready in your hotel and inviting the USPAAH Sparistas to join the pre-drinking party for a glam-over. A Christmas shopping weekend in a fancy hotel would be perfect (Yes, I did just mention the C word in September – whatcha gonna do? It’s coming, deal with it).

USPAAH covers everything from blow drys to pedis and massage so they’ve got your back (and hair, and nails… *groan*) Download the app and treat yo’self.

*This IS NOT a sponsored post. I just had a lovely evening and think the app is a bloody good idea.