When we decided to visit Amsterdam this year, I didn't really know much about it. What I did know was that it's the city of bicycles and of canals. It's the city where countless students go purely for the ability to party, and it is the city where my sister lives. However this city is so much more than that.
Yes, there are bicycles everywhere. I mean everywhere. I never truly understood what my sister was describing until I saw the sheer number of people who ride their bicycles, who use them to take their kids to school and deliver food and go to work. Yes, this city has canals, beautifully tree lined canals that become more and more frequent as you get closer to the city center. And yes, there are coffee shops where people go to indulge in the not quite legal substances they cannot get in their own place of living. But on top of all this, this gorgeous Dutch city is bustling and lively. The people are friendly and the coffee is a delightful treat after a walk on a brisk fall day. Being able to see the city through the eyes of a resident was an incredible experience. We followed my sister through the streets on her route to work, learned how to correctly ride the trams so as to not enter through the exit doors, had a smooth beer, bitterballen, and croquettes at a local bar where she sometimes stops with her friends, and got a cappuccino and apple tart at her favorite café. Our Airbnb was located in a beautiful little neighborhood called Oud-West, which was located just outside of Vondelpark. Of course, this proximity to the park lead to us walking through the paths of autumn colored trees and watching as people worked out, walked their dogs and just enjoyed their lives. This is a city that felt like home. It's a city that keeps its historical architecture and interweaves a modern way of life.