I want to tell you something. Something about living in Amsterdam. And I know that if you’re dutch and you know that I’ve lived in this country my entire life you’re going to laugh at the following confession, but I HATE biking.I’ve been living in Amsterdam for a couple of months now and I think I’m slowly getting out of the whole adaptation phase. I know more than one route home, I have my favorite place for certain groceries and most importantly my little house feels like home. The one thing I haven’t been able to shake off yet, is the rise in my stresslevels whenever I have to go anywhere on a bike. I have been using a bike just as long as any other dutch kid has. I remember my first bike and how I would go round and round on it in my purple flip-flops in our little back yard. The older I got the more places my bike got me, from school, ballet classes, work and parties. Independence and a workout all in one, the perfect combination for pretty much everyone I know. Except me.
See the thing is, here in Amsterdam, biking is a whole other thing. The picture you have in your mind is probably a very romantic bike ride along the canals with an occasional passer-by waving at you while the autumn leaves fall around you. Truth is, biking in Amsterdam is terrifying. I think biking in New York would almost be safer. First of all, you’re dealing with a huge flow of people on bikes, which in combination with morning groggy-ness can be quite the challenge. Then this huge flow of people on bikes can (very roughly) be divided into two groups:
1.The Amsterdammers; you can recognize this group by the very serious, almost fierce, look in their eyes. They bike like they own the road and are great at making decisions in split seconds
2. The Happy Tourist groups; which you can recognize by the matching bikes and the huge smile on their face, looking at everything but the road they are biking on.
Group number one intimidates me
Group number two is cute, but oh so dangerous
Then if you finally do manage to get to your destination in one piece, I challenge you to find a place to park, to not have your bike stolen within a month (or in my case, have your front wheel stolen within the first month of living here) and to not run in to your class/meeting/job all sweaty and gross.
Regardless of all of this, I am weirdly determined to get on the whole biking band wagon like a true “Amsterdammer” because I feel like I am missing out on something (And because I feel like a weirdo/wimp for actually feeling so strongly about this). I think the trick for me might be not to use it as a daily means of transportation but as a way of getting outside to explore. So far I have figured out that biking at night is already a lot more pleasurable, and come spring I am going to try and get out of the city center on my bike as much as I can.
While trying to document more of my days in Amsterdam I would love to know if there something specific you’d like me to write about or if there is something about Amsterdam you want me to cover/investigate? Feel free to email me or leave a suggestion in the comments section and I will get right on it!