Amsterdam: It’s Not You, It’s Me

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I think I owe you an apology, Amsterdam. You see, I just don't think things will ever work out between us.

But it's not you — it's me.


I made the mistake of trying to get to know you at the wrong time, Amsterdam. I met you for the first time after visiting an old fling (London), being introduced to a new suitor (Paris), and then being unexpectedly swept off my feet by a charming new acquaintance (Bruges).

To be honest, I don't think you ever really stood a chance.


Yes, I will concede that with your pretty canals and narrow houses, you really are just as attractive as everyone's always said. I delighted in snapping photos of your bridges covered in brightly colored flowers, and your houseboat-lined canals.

But looks aren't always everything.



For every beautiful canal I strolled down, there was an angry cyclist whizzing by. For every quiet moment I found in a park or down a quiet side street, there was any annoyingly high or drunk tourist around the next corner.

You actually stressed me out a little bit, Amsterdam.


From that first night when I visited a coffee shop with some friends and took a stroll through the sad and disturbing Red Light District, I knew in my heart that it just wasn't meant to be, Amsterdam. I wasn't looking for weed or peep shows, but that's all you were offering at first.

It was partially my fault for falling into the tourist traps straight away.


But, even when I ventured beyond them, I just didn't feel anything with you, Amsterdam.

I spent the next few days giving you chance after chance, trying to get away from your touristy areas and trying to participate in anything I could to make me like you a little bit more. I was looking for that connection; that spark that would help me fall for you. 

I rented a bike, spent a whole day wandering on foot, went looking for some history at the Anne Frank House, and even took a canal boat cruise. While some of these things were lovely and interesting, we just never “clicked.”


Maybe I was just burnt out. Maybe I was missing other destinations. Maybe I was looking forward to others a little too much. Maybe it would be best if we just try to give it a go again another time.

For now, though, I'll take all the blame, Amsterdam. It's really not you — it's me.

Perhaps we can still be friends?


Yours sincerely,

When it comes to travel, there are some destinations we instantly fall in love with, others that we become fond of in time, and others that we just never click with. 

I gave Amsterdam a second chance a couple years later – but it's just not a city that's a good fit for me. But that's okay! Cities are like people – you can't have a good relationship with them all.

Have you ever just not vibed with a city you wanted to like? What do YOU think of Amsterdam?



*Note: I visited Amsterdam as part of my Busabout trip around Europe. They provided me with transport on all 3 of their Europe loops, but all opinions of the destinations I visit are entirely my own!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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71 Comments on “Amsterdam: It’s Not You, It’s Me

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  1. Love this post, I haven’t ever really read anything about a place in this way before! Refreshing and hilarious. Made me chuckle =)

    I’ve got to say, you’re right on about Brugges….that was an unexpected gem for me when I first visited in 2001. However I must say that I did enjoy Amsterdam. Perhaps it was because I was only there for two days, perhaps the cold winter weather then kept more cyclists off their bikes, or maybe the novelty of seeing all the crazy illegal stuff in the States being shown off in plain view was it.

    The Van Gogh museum was great, and I found the Red Light district….interesting, though I don’t think I processed the social implications of the workers in that trade. I haven’t been back since my first trip but I also think that there is a certain time where one place is meant for you to be there walking its streets.

      Bruges is so great. And Amsterdam isn’t BAD by any means. I just didn’t go crazy over it.

    Haha, this is great! I’ve been to Amsterdam twice and actually really love it. But if everyone swooned over all the same places, the world would be pretty boring. The two cities that have most disappointed me are Rome and Macau, probably because my expectations were too high. Hopefully I’ll be able to give them a second chance!

      Very true – different people like/dislike different places for good reasons! You’re the second one to mention being disappointed by Rome. I actually quite like it!

    Haha, you made me laugh and wonder when you mentioned the coffee shop. When talking about Amsterdam & coffee shops you’re defeniteley not talking about drinking a cup of coffee!

    I can totally understand your feel about Amsterdam. As a Dutchie I am not a big fan of it either. Last time I was there was in 2012 with my boyfriend who had to see it, because it was his first time visiting the Netherlands.
    I’ve been there multiple times, but I never get the feel. I prefer other cities.
    Next time when you’re in the Netherlands, try Utrecht, Nijmegen, Den Haag or Groningen.

      Haha, nope, coffee shops in Amsterdam definitely aren’t for coffee! I wonder why they are named that way?

      Thanks for the suggestions for next time!

    That’s sad and sweet at the same time. Shame you didn’t like Amsterdam; for me it’s been so long since i was there (and I was forced to visit art gallery after art gallery for a school trip), I don’t remember how I felt about it. Whether or not the reality of the Red Light district is sad and/or disturbing, I still think it’s always better for prostitution to be legalised as that inevitably means more rights and protections for sex workers, which compared to the alternative, can only be a good thing.

      I won’t get into my full feelings on the Red Light District (mostly because I don’t think they are even fully formed yet), but I just know it made me feel a bit sad and uncomfortable.

    I still can’t wait to visit Amsterdam someday, but I definitely can understand where you’re coming from. Perhaps you and Amsterdam just aren’t meant to be, but I am a FIRM believer that if you’re in a certain state of mind it can totally affect your feelings for a place! I think that’s what’s happening with me still being at home in Philadelphia. 😉 Your pictures are lovely at the very least! Can’t wait to read about what’s coming up!

      Oh I definitely agree that your mindset can affect any destination you visit! I think the timing was definitely off for Amsterdam, but I also think maybe it’s just one of those places that I’ll always feel kind of “meh” about. And you know what? That’s okay.

    I do think that the timing of your visit had a lot to do with it, like you said. But sometimes we just don’t click with cities and that’s okay! These pictures are GORGEOUS though.

    Happy travels 🙂 I look forward to reading about your trip to Berlin.

      Yup, there’s no way a person can love every place he/she visits. And that is totally fine!

      Amsterdam IS really pretty, though, as the photos prove!

    I’ve visited Amsterdam about 4 to 5 times and can tell you one thing – it’s not easy to get away from the tourist traps. You see, the canal boat ride you mention? that was probably totally touristy. The museums? Ehem, yes, those too.

    The time I most enjoyed Amsterdam was when I stayed a little more in the outskirts of the city. I rented a bike, visited cute shops with delicious bakery and coffees, strolled along quiet and peaceful canals and soaked up the sun in beautiful parks. Everyone visiting wants to be in the centre of the city – but the truth is, the centre isn’t as nice as the rest.

      Yes that’s very true! Unfortunately, like you said, it’s quite difficult to avoid the touristy parts of the city.

    while I’m not huge fan of Amsterdam myself (I prefer other Dutch cities, still adorable with all the canals and cute houses yet with not these crazy crowds) I think the timing of your visit wasn’t the right one. I’ve been there couple of times but only once in summer (where, in June so still not the busiest time) and I couldn’t see the charm of the city at all then! all the tourists (and as you know there are too many of them) who came only for coffee shops and red lights district spoil everything. It’s so much better in late spring or early autumn. But even if I enjoyed my visist there it still isn’t my fave city!

      Yes, if I went back it definitely wouldn’t be in the summer. I would definitely give it another chance, but I’m still not sure I’ll ever fall in love with Amsterdam like I have other cities in Europe.

    I think you should anthropomorphize every city you visit and right a love letter to Paris and a “thanks for the quickie” to Berlin or whatever. That would be a great series.

      Hahahaha. That’s actually an awesome idea.

      I wrote a very similar “break-up letter” to Athens last year (titled “Athens, I’m Just Not That Into You”) and people really liked that, too.

    Thank you!!! Not so much that I have ill feelings towards Amsterdam, more the fact that you’ve opened up about not falling in love with every destination. Sometimes people rave about places that others just don’t get and that’s ok.

      It’s true that I am usually able to see the good in most destinations I visit. But yeah, sometimes I just have to admit when I don’t like a place! I know lots of people who love Amsterdam, but I don’t think it’s the place for me.

    For me, definitely Rome. I slotted off *so* much time for Rome and it disappointed at every point. I didn’t love Amsterdam either, but I wasn’t expecting to.

    One that surprised me a lot was Paris. I didn’t think I’d like it, but regret that I didn’t spend more time there (thanks, Rome!).

      I could see how Rome could be that way for some people. I’m actually in Rome right now. This is my second visit here, and I do actually like it. But mostly just because of the history. Otherwise, it’s really just another big city.

    Hey Amanda,

    I’ve been to Amsterdam four times (I live quite close by) and I am still not in love with it. A friend of mine is moving there so I have resolved to visit here and stay entirely out of the red light district and other oft visited places altogether, to see if I can form a new opinion. It’s also crowded at almost all times of the year! So I understand your sentiments.

    Ps. You should have visited Brussels instead of Bruges, or Ghent or Antwerp! All 3 are much nicer an Bruges, so I’m sure you’d love them!

      I had a friend who went to Amsterdam and stayed with and hung out with locals, and he loved it. I may have to try that approach if I ever go back to Amsterdam. I only need to make friends with a local now!

    Haha this post gave me a chuckle! Hopefully Amsterdam doesn’t feel too depressed about being bumped for Berlin just because he’s bigger and admittedly, more cultured! I have say, I do always have fun in Amsterdam, but there’s something about the city that doesn’t resonate with me, and it’s the Red Light distinct. I didn’t always feel this way, embarrassingly, I used to share the excitement and novelty of so many other people who’d giggle at seeing the girls lined up in window after window, but in reality many of these girls are the victims of human trafficking, (not female empowerment as many like to believe) and I wish more people knew this. After I realised my error, I couldn’t help but view Amsterdam differently.

      Yup, that part really bothered me, too. What bothered me even more was that a bunch of people I was traveling with wanted to go see a sex show. I was not the least bit interested in that side of Amsterdam, legal or not.

      Glad you enjoyed the post, though!

    I absolutely loved how you framed this! Likening cities to romantic prospects made me giggle.

      Haha thanks! I just wanted to do something a little more creative, and this seemed like it would work well for this post!

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