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

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

The morning started like all good ones do – with a stack of pancakes. Bar Spek is a five minute walk from the apartment Matt is staying in while he’s in Amsterdam so after cycling past it every day we decided to venture in.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had better pancakes. But the atmosphere and decor of the place was really lovely and Matt had a top notch breakfast smoothie so he was happy.

Plus I’ve heard their pizzas are summat’ special so I’m sure we’ll be back at some point.

Kelseigh in Bar Spek, Amsterdamimage image image image image

After breakfast we cycled out to The Museumplein –  a public space where three major museums are located – the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum – and the concert hall Concertgebouw.

The Rijksmuseum is the big, beautiful building that everyone stops to take pictures of and would take days to get around and see everything.

imageimageimage imageStedelijk museum

On this occasion we headed to the Stedelijk Museum, the museum for modern and contemporary art. We went on a recommendation from someone Matt works with about Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition.

Mr Sehgal is famous for creating non-physical art that is meant to be experienced rather than viewed. ‘ Live encounter situations’ if you will.

I don’t want to give too much away as you have to experience it to enjoy it but we had some rather philosophical chats with strangers during the afternoon, including a most eloquent bilingual seven year old. Whenever I meet someone who talks several languages (especially a child) I get all guilty and and feel the need to brush up on my GCSE French or dust off the Duolingo app.

Without giving the game away, I will say it’s probably best not to go when you’re hungover and talking to another human is actually the most difficult thing in the world. Top tip there.

This Progress finishes tomorrow but “Tino Sehgal: A Year at the Stedelijk” continues at the Stedelijk Museum until December 31 2015 if you fancied seeing (and being part of) more of Sehgal’s work.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon mooching around the museum taking in all the weird and wonderful artworks before spending almost an hour oohing and aahing in the gift shop. Art museum gift shops are always my favourite as there is so much to look at and not only are the gifts functional but always visually beautiful. I spent a lot of time picking up and putting down pots, books, pencils, postcards because they’re just so damn pretty.

The Stedelijk museum a wonderful way to while away an afternoon and not nearly as crowded and touristy as Van Gogh or the Rijksmuseum. Just make sure you exit through the gift shop.

A sunny Sunday cycle in Amsterdam

When it comes to the weather, the UK gets a seriously bad rep. Rain is up there with tea and scones when it comes to British-isms. What I didn’t realise is that Amsterdam is just as bad (it just let’s the UK take the rap).

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised on the latest trip to Amsterdam that we had glorious sunshine all week. And what better way to celebrate than a cycle you might think?

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A wonderful way to while away the day. Unless you are are me and the mere sight of a bike gives you a headache and cold ears. Alas, there is no escaping cycling in Amsterdam – I couldn’t beat ’em so I joined them.

The first hour of cycling was a complete triumph, I only cried three times and narrowly missed knocking a tourist into a canal. I was invincible.

We started our day off in the best possible way, brunch. We stopped off at super trendy Bakers & Roasters, and as all seasoned brunchers know, the trendier the place the longer you have to wait. We put our name on the list and mooched around the local shops in De Pijp, including my favourite Dutch shopping destination, Anna + Nina. Interiors heaven and an absolute Instagram and Pinterest dream. I want to buy pretty much everything.

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With our rumbling tummies getting louder we wandered back over to Bakers & Roasters and we weren’t disappointed. Seriously one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had, second only to the food in front of Matt, which I kept pinching when he was getting full and more likely to share.

Brunch at Bakers & Roasters

We eventually rolled out of the café, back on to our bikes to sight see and explore the city.

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After all that exploring we were ready for a well earned cookie break. Amsterdam has a few variety of cookies… but we settled on the gooey chocolate kind. If anybody knows gooey, chocolate cookies it’s Van Stapele Koekmakerij

VSK are THAT confident in their cookie making that they only do one flavour – hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The shop is teeny tiny and you can see the girls rolling the cookie dough behind the counter and popping them into the one small oven.

They then pop them into a little bag and seal it with a big gold sticker. Flourishes I enjoy but are probably wasted since I tear it open 2 seconds later to eat the cookie while it’s still warm.

Amsterdam cookiesVan Stapele Koekmakerij cookie

That is one clever cookie.