Amsterdam — The Beginning

J:

I started life in Amsterdam in the autumn of 2010. I had been bouncing around the world for a while playing the sport that I love and doing so had provided me with the chance to become a sort of gypsy. I rolled from continent to continent, country to country and seeing the world one hockey club at a time. I finally got the chance to join the “big leagues” in The Netherlands and after a tough choice between living in the south of the country or in the world’s most liberal city, the allure of Amsterdam overcame my inner farm-boy.

When I first arrived 4 years ago, there was a lot to learn. Things like, “Where is the red-light district?” and “Am I going to get offered weed by every Dutch person I meet?” were pressing questions. I suppose Amsterdammers feel the same way about these types of questions as I do when I get asked about coming from South Africa. For example: “Do you have wild animals in your back garden?”

What I came to learn very quickly was that the city center itself, is almost exclusively awash with with stoned, binge-drinking, hooker-seeking tourists and the occasional happy snap photographer. Amsterdammers know that there is so much more to their city but usually reserve this crucial information for those who are daring enough to ask. The true beauty of the city lies outside the sanctitude of the canal belt, forcing you to leave the comfort of the canals and their abundance of shitty italian restuarants and venture out into the areas that the locals themselves frequent.

The last 4 years have been a bit of a blur in terms of my timeline here, but one thing I have noticed within the last 2 years of Ash being here with me, is that the city has grown up a lot. Young dutch people are taking back the City of Sin and turning it into the City of Unbridled Opportunity. There is a constant flow of store, restaurant and coffee roastery openings all over the place and we have been lucky enough to bear witness to the evolution of the Amsterdam food scene. The young Dutch are entrepeneurs and connosieurs of the modern aesthetic and they are proud of it. Amsterdam is home to a vast number of high quality fashion brands, independent designers, artists, cooks and restaurateurs. No longer do you find jack-of-all-trades restaurants opening up, serving traditional Dutch go-to food like bitterballen and uitsmijters. Places now are specialising on simple, quality food, focusing on one key ingredient and making that the star of their show rather than having three page menus. There are rooftop movie theatres and wine festivals and brunches on boats, taking you along the intricate web of canals. We are, it seems, living in the new golden-age of Amsterdam and I am certainly excited to see where it leads us.

The aim of starting this blog is for us to share our love for food, style, photography, coffee (including attempting to finds the best decaf since Ash is allergic to caffeine), design, writing and most of all, life together in Amsterdam. We both sincerely hope you enjoy it and if you ever come to Amsterdam, you gain inspiration to try some of things we’ve shared. We’ll do a lot of posts through Medium. As well as using Tumblr for daily inspiration and some other fun stuff.

A:

It is incredible to think how quickly time has passed and that this September marks my 2 year anniversary of living in Amsterdam.

Life in Amsterdam has been one hell of a ride, and of course I can’t pretend that the journey has always been easy. Leaving family and friends behind was the major downside, but building a life in this incredibly liberal and diverse city has been a very special experience. Amsterdam has an exceptional quality of life. It’s clean and safe. It has a lovely environment, with little traffic or pollution and beautiful canals that give the city a special ambiance.

Justin and I have really settled in well and look forward to a couple more exciting years here. We recently moved into our new apartment in Oud West which I must say is rather lovely and I even have a bathtub now (after 2 years of a closet-like shower) which is kind of a massively big deal for me.

We have both decided to start blogging about our life in Amsterdam and share thoughts, inspirations, food and more. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Check us out on Tumblr at: http://two-cool-kids.tumblr.com/

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