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

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  1. I totally understand your feelings towards Amsterdam. I’m a Dutchie and I’ve studied in Amsterdam for five years, but during my studies I never moved there, because I never actually had a connection with the city. I was born and raised in Rotterdam (and I’m still living there) and I have a deep love for my city. Many say the rivalry between Rotterdam and Amsterdam has clouded my judgement about Amsterdam, so I’m actually glad to see someone who is unprejudiced and shares my feelings about Amsterdam. I totally agree with Annelien that there are other cities in The Netherlands you should consider visiting if you will be back someday. I can totally advise you to visit Rotterdam, because it’s so different from the rest of The Netherlands. It has been bombed during World War II so there aren’t much historic sights left. The bombing forced Rotterdam to be a modern city and I think it has done a wonderfull job. If you ever plan on visiting, I would be glad to recommend you al of it’s hidden gems 😉 Other than Rotterdam I think The Hague has some real pretty places as well and Utrecht is a nice city too. If you like your visits to be a bit touristy you should consider Volendam or Giethoorn as well.

      I know others who absolutely adore Amsterdam. But yeah, I just never connected with it! I definitely want to visit Rotterdam someday, though!

    I’m so sad to hear you didn’t like it. I’m from the Netherland, though living in Singapore, and I do agree on some points with you. But, I think Amsterdam is not the Netherlands, the Netherlands is so much more! So don’t get scared by Amsterdam, because we have so many more little cities and villages where you don’t have the problems you mention. The think is, you do have to go beyond Amsterdam to see it.

    Anyway, I have this idea. Maybe you should go to Utrecht next time. Utrecht is 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam. It has everything Amsterdam has, but is not touristy, no sex industry (which they are btw closing down in Amsterdam: good news!!) and super nice, friendly, green city. I’m hesitating to say it because I don’t want my beloved Utrecht to become touristy Amsterdam…but since I am using you website for my New Zealand adventure 😉

    Nice website!


      Thanks for the suggestion, Annelien! I’ll definitely see more of the Netherlands eventually – Amsterdam certainly didn’t scare me off! 🙂

    Hi Amanda – I think you found your “kinda local” person if you ever what to give Amsterdam a second shot! I’m half English, half Irish, grew up in the Caribbean & moved to Holland almost 30 years ago with my then husband. When we went our separate ways I moved from a small town to Amsterdam – the capital village!

    I totally get the things that disappointed you with Amsterdam and they are why I don’t go into the center much in high summer even the council is taking steps to limit the bachelor parties & drug tourism – but believe me there are lovely things and many great places! I would love to show you a few of them if you are passing this way on your travels.

    I’m a new reader of your blog & have just spent ages jumping from one post to another – love your work!

      Thanks so much for the offer, Liz! I’ll definitely keep it in mind if I find myself back in Amsterdam anytime soon!

    Oddly, rome and Amsterdam were our only two disappointments, as well. Amsterdam reminds me of a once grand hotel that has become tatty.
    The people were great and the Concertgebouw tremendous. But the Rijksmuseum is a regional repository of Netherland’s Greatest Hits, not a big city museum like the Boston or Cleveland as a repository of great world art. Biggest hits for us in our five days in a two day town (yes, we had come from our favorite Paris, so the conrast may have been fatal) were the aforementioned Concertgebouw, the Jewish Museum, and Rembrand’s house. And a wonderful cafe (cannabis free) called sugar and spice where the people and coffee were outstanding.

      So funny how everyone has a different experience! I know lots of people who love Amsterdam, and then plenty who feel kind of “meh” about it like us.

    Beautifully worded and unique! That’s what I call thinking outside the box! Love your pics too, what kind of camera do you use f I my ask..the images are fine and crisp..:-)

      Haha thanks! As for the pictures, I shoot with an Olympus E-P2 right now. Love it!

    Hahaha amazing! I get where you are coming from, but I still think Amsterdam has something special about it. I wandered around on my own, away from the main canals and it was great!

      Good to hear you enjoyed it! I just didn’t click with Amsterdam. But that’s totally fine, because there are so many other places out there that I have loved!

    I like your romantic contextualisation. Context is always important when describing likes and dislikes in a city. Where you were before also impacts your percerption. I found in Amsterdam travellers who had just been to Berlin found the beer expensive but the city pretty. People travelling from Paris found the city affordable and the people friendly. People from London found the city relaxed and quaint. Reading your list of things you did a second trip is worthwhile. I went with on a tour with a local company that specialised in small groups (6 people). It was great and opened my eyes that Amsterdam is now one of my favourite cities. No need for amsterdam coffee or red light district.

      Context definitely IS important. Next time I will be more careful about where I visit before and after Amsterdam, because I WOULD like to give the city a second shot.

    I really like the way you wrote your post. Hilarious!
    I haven’t been to Amsterdam in years although I’m going in January. I think winter is much better and less crowded. I’ll also be making a side trip to Utrecht which should make for interesting comparisons.

      Thanks, Victoria! I had fun with this one. I hope you enjoy your return trip to Amsterdam! I’ll have to give it a second chance during the off-season sometime.

    I felt even more strongly about Amsterdam after I visited in May, but everyone just told me I must have only seen the bad areas. I saw some beautiful places there but I completely agree: it just doesn’t compare to some wonderful cities nearby. I thought Amsterdam was dirty and choc-bloc full of tourists!

      Definitely full of tourists. I’m not saying I would never go again, but I also don’t think I’ll return anytime soon. And, next time, I want to hang out with locals!

    I haven’t been to Amsterdam yet, but I expect my feelings to be similar. I’ll go and give it a chance for sure, but it just doesn’t seem like it’ll be for me!

    yeh I think I have to agree with this post. Me and Amsterdam just did not click either. I think our relationship was interrupted by friends around me but Amsterdam did street me out a little bit as well constantly feeling like I had to keep track of my bag and watch myself down alley ways. I did however do the free walking tour which gave me more of an insight into things I loved about Holland and Amsterdam in general so I think there is hope for the beautiful city after all

      Quite a few people I’ve traveled with felt similarly about Amsterdam, so I guess I don’t feel as bad.

    I personally loved Amsterdam, and it has a special place in my heart as one of my favourite cities. I did visit a little out of peak season though, which I think really helped (especially as someone who doesn’t want to be anywhere near weed and stag parties.) It was also home to the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted, which might have skewed it in my favour a little.

    As for me, I didn’t think much of Phnomh Penh – it was just too crazy and full of harassment for me. Tallinn was also a little hit and miss, I loved the place, but the locals were so unfriendly that it kind of put me off ever returning.

      Hahaha it was totally the pancakes, wasn’t it? 😉

      And too bad about the locals in Tallinn! That really can ruin a place.

    Well, you can’t like every single place you visit! Andy and I really enjoyed Amsterdam, but we didn’t do too much of the touristy stuff. We completely stayed away from the red light district and any coffee shop that was a weed coffee shop. I did go to the Anne Frank House, but not to any other museums. Andy went to the zoo. We spent the rest of the time wandering, hanging out at cafes like Bagels & Beans, went to a local brewery in a windmill with another expat blogger who lives there, and in general just tried to BE there. And it was nice. But there are definitely places I’ve been to and didn’t like that most people rave about, so I can understand where you’re coming from.

      That sounds like a much nicer trip. I did really enjoy the Anne Frank House, and the canal cruise was nice. Sounds like I need to find a local/semi-local next time to hang out with, though!

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