“Nobody is from Amsterdam.” That was the spontaneous answer from a waiter who had just been asked if he was a native of the city where he works. Amsterdam has almost 800,000 residents but few of them were born there. The three people interviewed here were all born in towns on the outskirts, but they have an intimate connection with Amsterdam, a city made to welcome people. Here are some open arms for anyone wanting to feel at home.
Christian travels 45 minutes by car each morning from his native Wognum to Amsterdam, where he works as a graphic designer. Cars seem to be going against the stream in a place inundated by bicycles, so he sometimes finds it hard to get a parking place. As he passes through Bergen, to the sound of a live concert that forces him to raise his voice, he recalls his favourite place in Amsterdam: a pool bar near Weesperplein. “It’s pretty big and the food is very good. They serve the best bitterballen (a kind of meatballs very typical of Dutch cooking)!”
Eva was born in Tegeler. She works as a marketing manager and lives in the eastern part of Amsterdam, “on a multicultural street where until recently there were not many tourists.” Some places manage to escape that popularity. That’s the case with the Nieuwe Diep bar, an idyllic white building in the middle of Plevo Park. It makes its own gin and is attracting the locals in an area that, according to Eva, “is becoming too hipster for us.” Another of her favourites in that part of the city is a pub called Joost, which serves Amsterdam beers.
Greetje was born in Akersloot, 34 kilometres from Amsterdam. The first time she went to the capital she had just come of age. She had to go on a Monday to take some courses, but she asked her boyfriend to accompany her the previous Sunday because she didn’t know the way and didn’t want to make a mistake with the trains. Four decades later, Gerard is still with her. She works as an office manager and goes to Amsterdam mostly to visit the ateliers in De Negen Straatjes (“The Nine Streets”, a well-known shopping street) or to attend a concert. Once a year she travels those 34 kilometres on a bike with a group of friends.