10 things the foreigner sees in Amsterdam

I’ve been told that I should enjoy being a tourist as much as possible while I’m still in Europe, because once I get to Greenland it will be hard (and expensive) to get out again…even to another city takes some flying or sailing!

So I’m using this advice wisely, and enjoying life as a guest in Holland so far. It’s been fun to discover new things, meet amazing people, and play the dumb foreigner! Here are ten things I thought were interesting:

  • They have fast food dispenser machines…kinda like chocolate ones, but you can get things like sausages from them. OOH.
  • Chinese restaurants in Holland traditionally have a food-numbering system. So if you wanted to order babipangang (fried pork meat covered in sweet spicy sauce), you could just say, “I’d like a number 62, thanks!”.
  • There are such things as ‘cafe cats’ and ‘bar dogs’. Yes, I’m being literal – cats who live in cafes and bars. One night at a bar, there was a random cute dog just walking around freely. No one paid any attention to it. Even in the most liberal of cafes in Sydney, I don’t think this is possible. You’d either leave them outside, or tie them up inside.
  • But sometimes it’s a little difficult to order and pay for your babipangang or your beer, because many stores, even large grocery chains, only accept Maestro. A normal credit card just doesn’t cut it in non-touristy places. So bring some cash with you if you don’t have a Maestro card.
  • Also make sure to bring some spare change for a noisy musical cart that drives around the streets of Amsterdam. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it’s probably for some worthy charity as some people go around with it and ask for donation from passer bys. Would like to know more about this!
  • From this musical cart on wheels we move onto bicycles. As I mentioned on facebook, the ‘Dutch cycling with lots of stuff’ thing really impressed me.
  • Speaking of carrying stuff, most Amsterdam houses have special hooks at the top of their homes so that they can transport furniture in and out through their windows.
  • On average, a car will drive into a canal once a week, even though the city put in low barricades to prevent this.
  • These cars might drive into the canal because they’re distracted by the high number of people who ask you for directions. Maybe Amsterdam is a place full of tourists, but I found that Dutch people were also asking me for directions! In a way this was culture shock, because I had become so accustomed to the Danish way of thinking that to ask a person a question is to bother someone else, so don’t do it unless completely desperate. On the same note, I found the Dutch people to be so kind and helpful. Probably since they’re used to getting asked questions.
  • And sex is oozing in the Red Light District. It was a bit confronting to see all the women in sexy lingerie in the windows.
'Cafe cats' are apparently normal!

‘Cafe cats’ are apparently normal! Image: Tanny Por

Big thanks to my host Charlotte who kept me for a week and my Dutch friend Marianne whom I know from Kunming. They showed/explained to me things I would never have otherwise been exposed to!

2 thoughts on “10 things the foreigner sees in Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: Visit Finland and whip yourself | The Fourth Continent

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