The Things I Miss about London Living in Amsterdam
The Shallow Man has lived in Amsterdam for so long, that I really do consider it as home. I love it here. People often ask me, “why are you so annoying?” In addition to this, I’ve often been asked by my readers what are the things I miss about living in Amsterdam as opposed to London? Apart from family (who were happy to see less of me), there are some things here that when they occur do make me long for London which brings me to the subject of today’s post.
Now some of my comments may be somewhat controversial, and if as a result, I’m hunted down by a pack of angry Dutch nationalists and forced to sit through hours of speed skating while listening to comments such as “we’re only a small country but we beat everyone” I won’t complain, I’ll do my best to stay awake and will say “ja jullie zijn ongelooflijk goed er in, kan ik nu naar huis?”
The things I do for my readers!
Of course, I have to start with the service. Now one thing I will say is that over the years, either the service in the Netherlands has improved, or I’ve become more tolerant to the often amateurish or outright rude behaviour of employees in some restaurants and shops. I’m really not sure which is the case, probably a little of both. So here’s an example. Some time ago a hungry Shallow Man and a rather attractive Dutch lady (you should have seen her) and I went for a meal at an Italian place in Amsterdam. The place was busy, and it was a sunny day, and even though neither my date or I smoke, (yes there are Dutch women that don’t smoke) we sat on the terrace. We were served and placed our order. The starter took some time to arrive, but ok, fair enough this can happen. However, after that, we waited, a long time for our main course. Getting the attention of the serving staff was difficult. It’s as if they are trained to ignore customers with annoying questions such as, “where’s the food?”
Finally, I managed to get the attention of one of the staff. Upon asking if the food was being shipped from Italy, I was told that there was a big group booking at the restaurant, so the kitchen was busy. I wonder if this excuse is taught to all staff at average places, as I’ve heard this one before, and refuse to accept it. It’s quite simple really. They knew they had a group booking in advance, so should have organised themselves better to cope with the group and the rest of their customers. Isn’t the point of having a restaurant to have it as busy as possible?
I told the person serving that this really wasn’t good enough and that if they’d told us before we ordered that there would be delays in receiving the food we’d have eaten somewhere else. To their credit, they did later waive the cost of some of our drinks, but this to me is just an example of bad service that I’ve often encountered during my time here.
Another example of this was while visiting a Hugo Boss store in the PC Hooftstraat. I waited and waited to be served while two members of staff had an in-depth discussion about the club one of them had been to the previous night. When I finally managed to get their attention I received nothing but bad attitude from one of the staff, who appeared to be annoyed that I had the temerity to enter a shop and expect to be served. Needless to say, I’ve never been back there.
Queues and civil manners on public transport
What’s nice in Amsterdam is that at the tram stops, people stand in an orderly line, and then as soon as the doors of the tram open, all hell breaks loose. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves. The passengers are trying to get off the tram? Who cares? Just push your way on. Does a pregnant woman need a seat? It’s not your problem, hey she shouldn’t have got herself in that condition in the first place, just keep sitting and let her stand. An elderly person gets on the tram and there are no seats? No problem, let them stand, I’m too busy hunting for a date on tinder.
There are some unspoken rules in London about this kind of thing, generally, it’s just automatic to give up your seat to those that obviously need it more than you do. What always amuses me is the look of total shock and the amount of gratitude that one receives from Dutch people when you offer them your seat.
Taxi drivers who know where they are going
In London, if you take a black taxi, the drivers have been through years of training to pass an exam called the knowledge. The result of this is that unlike in Amsterdam, you will not have to spend time explaining to the driver how to find the destination that you’re paying him to take you to. Even in the age of Tomtom, there are still drivers that insist on being directed to their final destination, or “accidentally” take the slowest possible route to get there. In spite of the various changes made to the rules governing taxis in Amsterdam, the prices remain expensive, and I suspect that some unscrupulous drivers also tamper with the meter to make it run faster. Something that is difficult to prove. My advice is that if you must take a taxi in Amsterdam to use uber.
In London the smoking ban is enforced
Try lighting up a cigarette in a pub or bar in London, even after 11 pm. Yes, folks, the smoking ban is enforced pretty much throughout the UK. Light up a cigarette inside a bar or pub and you’ll be asked to leave the establishment. Simple really. Yet, several years after the smoking ban came in here there are still many bars in Amsterdam that ignore the law and allow people to smoke. This wreaks havoc on my dry cleaning bill as I find nothing more foul than having my beautiful clothes smelling like an ashtray.
The items above aside, there are many things that I love about living in Amsterdam including the sight of ladies wearing a top and just leggings. I sometimes wonder if they rushed out of the house and forgot to put on a skirt, but no, apparently this is the fashion. I love sitting on a terrace on a sunny day inhaling vast amounts of smoke from my fellow patrons. I adore testing my reflexes by having to jump out of the way of cyclists while walking on the pavement.
Sarcasm aside, I love Amsterdam, and many of its people who are super chilled. I love my neighbourhood, and the relative ease and stress-free way one can get from A to B in this city. (As long as you’re not in a taxi) There are some great restaurants with great service, some of which I’ll list below:
This city also has some wonderful bars, and enough eye candy to raise the blood pressure of even the fittest of shallow men. I forgot to add that yes, I will go back to London if I don’t like it here.
No ladies in leggings were hurt during the writing of this post.
Dodge cyclists on the pavement? Ha! More like cyclists dodging dipshit pedestrians in the street. And their dipshit broken glass because people cannot behave as if they have had beer before in the bike lanes.
But yeah, Amsterdam is where customer service went to die.
As a Dutch national I have to say I couldn’t agree more with you, it’s a sad thing!
On the smoking ban, I’ve been told that the ban has been adjusted slightly. Apparently it is permitted to smoke in small bars (that is, bars where only the owner and/or their spouse are working). Unfortunately I’ve seen this adjustment abused many times already, where small bars with regular employees also allow smoking
I just had to love your post. I come from Mexico and I miss the same things. The lack of service and manners are things that I will never get used to. This attitude of ” it is not my problem but yours” is not to believe for someone like me, working in marketing. You are not alone!
Can you provide us with a small list of the best bars here in Amsterdam. Extra points if they’re not that expensive. I’m an exchange student that sometimes wants to go to an good baronce in a while instead of getting hammered at chupitos or whatever 😛
The Shallow Man is a butler to the needs of his readers. Here are some bars that are not expensive and have a great atmosphere. Enjoy!
“…and then as soon as the doors of the tram open, all hell breaks loose. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves. The passengers are trying to get off the tram? Who cares? Just push your way on…” The violence! LOL! 😀
If you are rude to the restaurant staff, how can you expect them to be polite to you? Maybe is the sarcastic way you ask questions, like if the food is being shipped from Italy, that puts people off? I am only here for a year, always being polite, and never had a rude attitude from staff.
In my days as a student I worked as a waiter too. I am a polite and easy going person. When a customer was rude or sarcastic, I would give him the least service possible and I really mean the least. Polite customers were served in a split of a second.
I am not saying that Dutch are the most polite people, they are not. But sometimes (or most of the time), we should try correcting ourselves before criticizing others.
Eugene, the Shallow Man is always polite, but, if I have to wait for over an hour for my main course, then yes, a little sarcasm will rear it’s three piece suited head. I provided a list of just some of the places where service is outstanding, and I can think on a few other places, such as DeDuvel, Foodies and the Scandinavian Embassy that are also superb. There is no excuse for a main course taking over an hour. My sarcasm is well deserved in such cases.
There are 10 times the number of actual non smoking bars than those who tolerate. It’s great we have a choice in this city rather than a fascist zero tolerance policy adopted practically every where else. If you don’t like smoke don’t go to the handful of bars that let you do this. There are literally hundreds of places you can’t smoke, go there!
Kyle, what a selfish attitude you have. The anti-smoking laws were brought in to protect the employees of such places from the effects of passive smoking. It’s not about me or you, it’s a health problem, unless you’re one of those people that choose to ignore the vast amounts of scientific data that proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that exposure to cigarette smoke can cause cancer.
Yes I am quite award of the health risks, thanks. Most places that let you smoke have one or two staff who are also smoking, if everyone in the place smokes who is the government protecting us from? Ourselves? Is this an Nanny state?There have been recent efforts to cut back on the number of smoking bars, but there should at least be an option.
Kyle, Governments that introduce smoking bans are attempting to reduce the number of deaths related to smoking. In Australia where there is a total smoking ban, there has been a big reduction in the number of smoking related illnesses. To your point, even if the staff smoke, if you make it illegal for them to smoke during working hours, then they are less likely to develop acute myocardial infarction illnesses. Don’t just take my word for it. Below is a link to a study carried out in Australia before and after the smoking ban.
Maybe we should also ban alcohol which is responsible for approx 88,000 deaths per year, oh but wait you enjoy that so it’s OK. Some how I am the selfish one.
Alcohol, served in a busy confined space, tends not to affect the health of non-drinkers, unlike passive smoking.