Public transport in Amsterdam

I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, but as a teenager, the Shallow Man loved fast food. It was quite normal for me that after a night out clubbing in London’s Leicester Square to stop off for a Kebab or a KFC before catching the night bus home. I’ve no idea why or when I stopped with fast food. Actually, I do remember, it was when I spent several months doing a project in Barcelona. My time there and eating lots of fresh fish had a detox like effect on my body.  So much so that when I returned to London, I noticed that when walking past a KFC that the smell of saturated fat actually turned my stomach, which brings me to the subject of today’s post, true tales from using public transport in Amsterdam.

Public transport in Amsterdam

Firstly, the Shallow Man will go on record to state that the public transport system in Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general, is one of the best value systems I’ve ever used. Especially when compared to the London underground, where peak time travel is akin to being a battery hen or a sardine in a tin, overpriced and downright unpleasant. When travelling on public transport in Amsterdam in the mornings, it’s pretty easy to get a seat, not outrageously overpriced, nor an unpleasant experience, with the exception of some of the examples that I’ll highlight below.

The sweet smell of saturated fat

Being a lover of gadgets, the Shallow Man often has the irresistible urge to check out the goodies at Media Markt. Or when in need for some high culture, i.e. the need to see the latest Transformers or Star Trek movie in 3D, then, of course, no other cinema but the Pathe Arena will do. Being the environmentally friendly chap that I am, this, of course, entails using public transport and taking the metro to Bijlmer Arena.

Lekker gezond!

Lekker gezond!

Taking the 50 or 54 is both a sensation for the eyes and the nose. Firstly for art lovers, there’s plenty of interesting graffiti to help you pass the time while travelling through the exotic neighbourhoods of Duivendrecht and Strandvliet. The other thing that one can do for fun is to guess the origins of the sweet smell of saturated fat emanating from some of the passengers that are kind enough to eat their fast food in the metro. I often find myself playing a guessing game, “KFC? Chicken Express? Or is it a takeout from FEBO?”  Delightful. It’s also very helpful that the people eating such delights on the metro show their fellow passengers how much they appreciate their artery-clogging delicacies by making appreciative grunting noises while eating, or loudly chewing their food with mouths wide open.

Children are so cute

To their parents. One of the “joys” of taking the tram in the fair and beautiful city of Amsterdam is the liberal attitude some parents have to allowing their little Lieke’s and Jeroen’s run around and irritate the hell out of their fellow passengers. A child that kicks a shopping bag, screams at the top of its voice or puts its mucky hands on the Shallow Mans clean outfit, is likely to earn its parents some direct and open and honest feedback. Let your children create havoc at home, but please, when on the tram, keep them under control.

Your conversation really isn’t that interesting, sister!

I had the misfortune one evening of sitting behind a lady on a bus, who for the entire journey, from Amstelveen into Amsterdam, spoke loudly into her mobile phone, constantly repeating “I hear you sister” or  “yes sister you’re damn right.” On and on she went until I tapped her on the shoulder and said: “excuse me, but your conversation is driving me mad, as Michael Jackson said, you are not alone.”

She was not amused by this and responded in a hurt and wounded voice “why you do this to me brother? Why you so bad?” The Shallow Man does not have a large family, and quickly checking my memory to ensure that I hadn’t misplaced a sibling, I firstly pointed out to her that we couldn’t possibly be related, as my parents taught me manners, and wouldn’t have been amused to see me carrying out a tedious conversation with such a limited use of vocabulary while on “public” transport.

“Oh, you think you better than me? Leave me alone.” The good thing was, that in a rare display of community spirit, several other passengers on the bus also joined in and asked her to stop her conversation as they were also annoyed with it. This led her to getting off at the next stop, but not before proving that she did have a larger vocabulary that included a number of choice swear words.


After ten years, the Shallow Man is finally used to the sight of wet hair on public transport. Fine, so be it. However, what I truly object to is women brushing their hair while on the tram! I wonder how many relationships have been put under strain by the discovery of another woman’s hair on a man’s clothes? Try explaining to your girlfriend that you have no idea where the red hair that is all over your clothes came from. Ladies, don’t brush your hair on the tram it’s a disgusting habit and can break up relationships.

Not on the tram!

Not on the tram!

No “sisters” were hurt during the writing of this post.