A Few Lessons Learned

A few things I’ve learned in our first month or so living abroad in Amsterdam:


+Europeans love to smoke. I knew this one before coming, but goodness, it really ruins your al fresco meal when someone is blowing plooms of cigarette smoke in your face!

+One car per week accidentally drives itself into a canal. You won’t see me trying to park along one!

+Trains will not wait for you. Not even if you’re running toward it like a mad person. And their doors will close on you if you hop on too late. Luckily I just watched these scenarios and wasn’t actually the victim.

+You shouldn’t ever take a taxi in the city. It’s a massive rip off. 15 euro for 1.5km? I don’t think so.

+I rarely have any clue how far I’ve walked or how many degrees it is outside because I am still not used to kilometers and celcius.

+Public transportation is horribly expensive, but unbelievably efficient and convenient.

+People do smoke pot at 7AM in the morning – and it’s not the most pleasant aroma on your walk to the train station as you’re still trying to wake up!

+What Amsterdam lacks in Mexican food they make up for in pancakes.

+Shops close at 5PM (with the exception of Thursday). Has nobody in Europe ever heard of retail therapy? How’s a girl supposed to pep up after a particularly mind-numbing day at work?

+Row homes are tall and narrow, and the only way to get furniture in while you’re moving is through the window!

+Laundry detergent stinks here. Okay, to be fair, the kind we got stinks. But even the cheapest detergent in the States doesn’t smell like this. I want my Tide Cold Water back.

+Apparently it’s normal to have mice in your apartment. This is disturbing and I am praying that we are the exception to this…

+The bike culture never gets old. Everyone looks so dang cute on a bike! I can’t wait to get one of my own.

+Belgian beers are strong and goooood. 

+The coffee here is different, but amazing. I’m so glad because there was some pretty stiff competition from Portland coffee!

+Every neighborhood, no pretty much ever street, has its own cheese shop, butcher, little market, etc. People aren’t used to going to the grocery store and stocking up, many evenings they stop in five different places to get fresh goodies for their meals. I absolutely love this!

And not really a discovery, but so far my favorite thing…
The fact that I can go to the French Riviera for a long weekend with the huz. I can’t complain!

31 thoughts on “A Few Lessons Learned

  1. These little discoveries are so interesting! Lack of Mexican food is very sad to me, but I suppose you can still make good stuff at home! I do love pancakes… 🙂 I hear the airfare around Europe is ridiculously cheap. Is that true? Is that what helps make all these weekend getaways possible?

  2. I agree – a lack of Mexican food is sad! But as long as they have made up for it in other areas! 🙂 I have loved hearing about your new adventures abroad! Enjoy your vacation! 🙂

  3. As an adult I can imagine it would be super hard to get the Kilometer thing when all you know is the american way! Me being me, I'd just not even attempt to learn it lol

    Mice is NORMAL??? I”d freak if I ever saw my dog chasing one!

  4. Hi! I just discovered your blog from This Kind of Love and popped over to say hi! I am already a follower and I can't wait to read about your travels through Amsterdam and Europe. My husband and I left our jobs and followed our travel dreams through Europe for 2 months back in 2009. It was the best decision we could have made!! On my blog, there is a link to the Travel Bug, our european blog! Amsterdam and neighboring Harlem were among our favorites. Can't wait to keep reading about your fun adventures!

  5. it is so cool to read your list of discoveries! i can imagine how much adjusting you have been going through; the kilometers/celcius equation would be tough enough! haha

  6. Ugh, I remember the smoke from our honeymoon in Spain. It got to the point where I didn't even want to go out to eat because of the smoke. But the beauty and adventure make up for it!

  7. my old roommates boyfriend used to wake up at like 7am to go to work and he would smoke pot in our backyard everyday..aka it would blow straight into my bedroom (4 girls with no money to run the AC= windows open!) and it would always make me so sick! And I would love to see the neighborhoods wit hteh butcher, cheese market etc, it sounds adorable! I'd stock up on wine, meats and cheese, as I am sure you have too 🙂

  8. I never really liked the way my clean laundry smelled either, now that you mention it. And the mice thing is definitely true – sadly we experienced this first-hand…I guess that's why there are so many cats in Amsterdam!

  9. Those are all things I miss about living in Europe. Especially the last point about the shops. The condo we have is in a high rise and the first floor has the butcher, the dairy store, the bakery and so on. It's so nice, the owners get to know you and know exactly what you are going to get based on the day you are there. Not only that but they will go out of their way to make sure all their products are fresh for their regular customers. 🙂

    PS love the new name and design.

  10. So opposite from Dubai in many ways – no one rides bikes here except for a few local delivery guys, it is not a pedestrian friendly place, malls are open until midnight but are practically empty until 4pm, taxis and the metro are dirt cheap, you can't get a beer unless you're in a hotel bar, definitely no pot, BUT lots of smokers on outdoor patios too.

  11. you hit the nail on the head with them all!!! especially the smoking part! up in scandinavia where i live people do snus. its equally as disgusting to me, but they claim its healthier LOL

    hope you're enjoying it 🙂

  12. It's you! I didn't recognise the blog with the change of name etc.Anyhow- good list..the beginning of a new life in a new country is a learning curve. I didn't realise that shops in Amsterdam would shut at 5pm-that is so annoyingly British…but, it does save those pennies (or euros!) i guess.you can just buy more pancakes or smoke more pot!

  13. Love this post! So full of happy 🙂 Except for the smoking part. I really cannot stand being around the smoke. I just cant stop my mind from visualizing the smoke entering my lungs…yikes

  14. SO true.. I have lived here in Holland for 2 years now and the list made me laugh out loud. I had to totally adjust to the stores closing at 5 and not opening on Sunday.. 🙂 at least there is always takeout!

  15. gosh i feel like i am re-living my first couple months in europe again through you. Minus the pot smell. thats an Amsterdam thing. so is the Kilometer thing..thankfully we run on the mile system..but celsius? ive been here a year now i ive barely just started to understand how to do conversions..which are really just rough estimations.

    and i hate public transport. i just do. everyone said i would get used to it and start to like it..well its been over a year guys and i still think it sucks..im from los angeles. give me a break.

  16. Sounds like you are learning the ways.

    I love reading about your travels and the pictures are AMazing! Sounds like you are living in a dream. So incredible, thanks for sharing!

  17. I'm from the UK so can definitely vouch for trains leaving even if you're running l ike a mad person! (We've also almost twice missed our euro star train from Paris). Luckily smoking is banned in the UK though and haven't been to Amsterdam, but can imagine smelling pot at all hours of the day isn't the best!

    M x http://www.whatwegandidnext.com

  18. If you're missing Mexican food check out Los Pilones (near Leidseplein) or my favorite spot, Tomatillo (on Overtom) both are really yummy!

  19. As the previous commenter said Los Pilones (there's also one in the Jordaan and on Nieuwmarkt). It's very good and authentic. It is run by Mexicans and has a mole to die for. Otherwise, you have Tomatillo on the overtoom, and My Burrito in the Jordaan. There is also The Taco Shop (he also delivers!) on the Amstel, which is excellent. It is run by an American and everything is in English. The food is very California Mexican and delish. Real cheddar!

    http://www.thetacoshop.nl/
    http://www.tomatillo.nl/
    http://www.myburrito.nl/
    http://www.lospilones.com/

    Good Luck! 🙂

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