Ever since I moved my luggage of life to the Netherlands in 2009, I had always been living in The Hague, the third biggest city in the Netherlands. It truly witnessed my struggle during college life. I adapted-adopted with things about being ‘Dutch’ since day one in that friendly city. I call it friendly because it had everything I could ever asked for as an Indonesia foreigner. As pathetic as it sounds, I still wanted to have a piece of Indonesia in where I live, and The Hague has the largest population of Indonesian (mixed blood, half blood, veteran, pure, etc). No wonder, it is practically very easy to find things that can eliminate longing feeling of my beloved home country, such as food, spices, cultures, as well as the people. In every meter I walked, I could find one or 2 Indonesians, to be roughly calculating. And I found it astonishing.. I felt like I was not alone, even though I clearly did not know all of them. Though, I made friends who then become family, I made a place who then become a home (one, two, three, four moving around, with and without my sister). I made myself an independent young woman in this very city, I watched myself grew from a spoiled little girl to be a responsible adult woman. This city was also a place that beheld the sparks between Damar and I…. whom at the end I ended up marrying to and whom the reason I had to move from this old city…..
Never had I thought, I would move to the only city I never wanted to live in, the city of tourists, Amsterdam. By only being a guest for a couple of times, I concluded that I would never live there. Oh well, I jinxed it. I started daily working and commuting The Hague-Amsterdam from 2014, hence the intensity spend in the city. I started falling in love with its beauty; the flow of its canals, its modern people, it’s old yet modern architecture, its expats life, its culinary, its parks, its easiness to access whatever. Most importantly, it allows people to have the balance life, where people could have fun and relax at the same time. Oh yes, and ultimately the fact that it is a shorter distance to work.
Well, here I am… since I got back from Indonesia after the wedding, I moved and started living together with Damar. He has been living here from 2012. We are living in the North of Amsterdam which is likely underrated even by myself, earlier. But actually, it has a big potential, and it is exactly when I describe ‘have fun and relax at the same time’ because the neighbourhood is calm but it is still Amsterdam and I can get to the city to find madness if I’d like.
I wanted to share a sample day living in this beautiful city…
Yesterday was marked as the Gay Pride Festival. The city was all of the sudden fully packed with tourists, local people, and people from throughout the Netherlands to celebrate the freedom of choosing gender preference. Damar and I did not really want to be part of the crowd, but already planned to go the city with our bikes (YES I GOT A BIKE, TRYING TO BE A PROPER AMSTERDAMER! :P) to get ourselves to a glasses showroom of a brand called polette.nl. I am in the need of a new pair of glasses as I am getting blinder and blinder everyday. This is again what I like about Amsterdam, this kind of hippie brand, you will not find in any other cities. Amsterdam is always the first place to open something cool haha. I heard about the brand from my colleague, she said it’s very affordable with a high range of trendy, classy, cool options. I thought we could buy it right away in the store but apparently, I could only check my eyes (for free! and according to the shopkeeper the machine is one of the most expensive and accurate). I ended up finding out that my eyes are sooooo bad. Anyway, the concept of the store is to only try on and fit the glasses, to be subsequently order online. Not a problem at all! I found the winner!
We cycled through Amsterdam North, getting ourselves to the Ferry (because the connecting tunnel between the central and North is closed due to maintenance). FYI, Amsterdam North is a separate island, hence the need of connection/water transportation, and hence the underrate (haha). It was a hot sunny beautiful day, everybody was just simply smiling and happy. I almost forgot why it was more crowded than usual until I saw the rainbow flags fluttered in every corners. Here we go again, the sign of freedom 🙂 I am constantly reminded of differences between people, than we have to stay open-minded and being non-judgmental. Every body really have their own stories and people here just simply mind their own business. Let’s say, it is easy to have a true colour here, to differentiate between you and other people.
Bicycle is the first transportation in Amsterdam, just because Amsterdam is not big, and people like to save their money. Actually it was trended because at one point, the Netherlands were full of traffic jam and the government promoted the use of bike. Anyway, it has become part of the culture for so long, and as the infrastructures support bikers, every body just gotta own it. We went through the small streets, seeing little houses and bars, and the crowd of gay pride. We stopped at a traditional market in the Old West of Amsterdam to buy some fruits. Note: if you want to buy fruit in Holland or in this case Amsterdam, buy it in the traditional market, sooo much cheaper and fresher. What I like about being in the traditional market was not only because of the price, but also the whole experiences, the life that comes with it. I liked seeing the vendors who were shouting loudly about the price their offer competing with the other vendors next to them, seeing the different people walking through the market alleys for the sake of walking, window shopping or groceries (dutch word: ‘bodschappendoen’). We ended up buying 3 different kind of fruits in a big bowl; blueberries, strawberries, and nectarines. Those are my favourite fruits that are now currently the season. We only paid less than 5 euros!!!! In Albert Heijn or Jumbo (the name of popular supermarkets), it would be like 8 euros I guess.
After fruits (and flowers) shopping (and strike posing), we cycled back to the city towards the crowd and found a very very very nice organic salad bars (again: only in Amsterdam, this kind of lots of place options are possible :)). The place is called SLA (in English, it means ‘lettuce or salad’). We fuelled ourselves there with a powerful meal! It was super good.
There goes our Saturday and we will keep on exploring the nice new places every time we could… Seems like, the size of the city does not define the richness inside it 🙂
I am glad I have got the chance to move to Amsterdam and live as an Amsterdamer.