Amsterdam: we’re here, but should we have come?

Haarlem windmill

If you don’t know me in real life, then our sudden location shift to Amsterdam may have seemed like quite the narrative jolt. My last post earlier in the year was about our trip to Bergamo and now there are windmills and canals. There’s no such thing as continuity over here, but that’s what happens when I don’t post for months – life updates don’t make it into print.

Rather than head back to New Zealand when our three years in Italy came to an end, we decided to hang out in Europe for a little longer. Over the last year we considered Bristol, Berlin and Vienna as potential new homes, before overruling all of them in favour of Amsterdam. We’d been here before and had always like the idea of returning, so here we are.

amsterdam north

A quick heads up about the title: it’s a quote from Travel Man, I’m not already doubting our location decision. Also, not one single photo in this post is of Amsterdam. Just to be contrary, they’re all of surrounding areas and cities.

Since we moved from Italy in early May, I’ve barely touched pizza, prosecco or breakfast brioche, nor have I climbed any mountains. Our street no longer has three bars on its various corners, I don’t teach English (though I do still correct grammar), and I don’t get to stay at home as much. It’s safe to say that life has changed.

Leaving Italy was exhausting. Who knew moving country was so hard? We left straight from our flat, which created this weird scenario where we’d already moved out most of our possessions, but were still trying to both live there and do a deep clean. On the final morning, we left sheets and pillows in a friend’s car, to be dropped off to another friend who was storing our worldly possessions.

We flew, as we always do when we move half-way around the world, with as many possessions and clothing items as we could cram into the baggage allowance. We arrived at Eindhoven airport dragging winter coats, three suitcases and two carry bags which were manhandled onto buses and trains, and then finally down a small street in Utrecht to our Airbnb. We spent a lot of that first week sleeping.

Dutch fishing village

We set up a mini HQ at the dining table for the first month, from where we coordinated apartment viewings, Matt’s visa application and my job hunt. We also ordered dinners, online from our spot at the dining table – the Dutch being so into restaurant home delivery. It felt like such an indulgence, but we were no longer living with a pizzeria five doors down. And we were definitely still that tired.

Things went better than we could have hoped for, and we packed down our HQ and left Utrecht a month later having acquired all of those three things, plus bikes. I’m now back working fulltime in the real world, alongside adults. It’s such a change from my hodge podge of Rovereto activities, and I have no regrets.

Utrecht

We’ve now been in Amsterdam since June, living in our (temporary) flat since July. We had our first-ever Amsterdam summer, and the weather was better than I had fearfully been expecting. We picnicked in the Vondel Park one night, and managed at least a few dinners in our backyard. Though how northern we are now is inescapable, and I acquired three new jackets last weekend alone.

One of those new jackets was a bright yellow rain jacket, bought specifically to allow me to keep cycling as the weather packs in (we have almost-matching jackets (Matt’s is forest green), a birthday present from my parents). I’m hopeful. My second-hand bike, which cost a cool 100 euro, gets me everywhere. My work commute won’t last all through winter, but for now I appreciate not having to start my day by squishing onto a bus.

And so that is a summary of how we got here, if not a complete summary of where we are now. But there will be plenty of dark winter’s nights for time for all that.

 

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