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.