Over the past few months, many people have asked why Roxy and I are planning on moving to Amsterdam. Some assume it has something to do with the legalized marijuana or prostitution (and those people obviously don’t know me at all). Others think it’s because I hate life in the USA. Both of those could not be farther from the truth.
How it all came about
For a while now, Roxy and I had discussed the idea of moving out of St. Louis. I love St. Louis, it’s where I grew up, and I’m familiar in it. At the same time, I wanted to experience somewhere new.
First, we discussed Kansas City or Chicago. Then we branched out to Charlotte, Houston, etc. One day I had a notion to move to Toronto or Montreal. From there we figured if we were going to go international, we might as well go all out. I knew it would be possible to get European citizenship for myself, which would give us the right to live and work in Europe, so I set about getting that (long story, but basically if you’re within 2 generations of an Irish citizen, you can be one yourself, so I am now).
Making the Choice
Roxy and I talked and studied various cities and countries in Europe. Ireland and the UK were eliminated quickly, since they require a 6-month quarantine for all animals entering the country. We couldn’t do that to our dog and cat. From there, we looked for cities where English is widely spoken, are interesting and unique, and have good Universities nearby. We watched a LOT of travel shows, and picked a few cities that seemed interesting: Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, and Copenhagen.
We traveled to all 4 cities last summer. Before our trip, I would have said Munich was our first choice. Munich was a nice city, we could definitely be happy living there, but it just was missing something. Berlin was nice, but too big (it’s 9 times the size of Paris), and Copenhagen was too small (and too cold!). We fell in love with Amsterdam.
When we arrived in Amsterdam, we took the train in from the airport to Centraal Station, and walked a few blocks to our hotel. It was still around 8am when we arrived, so our room was not ready. We dropped off our luggage and headed out onto the streets. We walked down the quiet brick streets, with the occasional bicycle silently whooshing past us, and admired the old brick houses with their gables. We walked over canals, and saw shopkeepers and cooks outsides sweeping off their patios in preparation for opening. We visited the Anne Frank Huis, and climbed the bell-tower of the Westerkerk. (Western Church). Over the next few days, we rented bicycles, browsed the shops, and just explored.
Amsterdam is a very unique city. Last year (or 2 years ago, I forget), we went up to Omaha to visit our friend Darin, and attend a wedding. On our way out of town, we stopped to get gas. I remarked to Roxy that if somebody had knocked me unconscious and dropped me at that location, I would have no clue where in the US I was, just from looking around. This is not a dig on Omaha, just on the US in general. Especially in the suburbs, it’s all very generic. That’s fine for some people, but not for us. If I woke up in Amsterdam, it would take me all of about 3 seconds to know where I was. The canals (A’dam has more bridges than Venice), the canal houses, the pickled herring stands. It’s just all very Dutch. (Side note, I’ve kind of burnt out on photography, but I am excited to begin strolling down the streets of Amsterdam with my camera.)
I honestly can’t wait to wake up every morning and explore that city. To hop on my bike and ride to the beach. To sit in a bruincafe (brown cafe, basically a Dutch version of a Pub) and watch people ride by. To take my dog into the grocery store with me and pick up some bread and cheese for lunch, or to head down to Vondelpark and BBQ. To hop on a train and be in Paris in 3 hours, or out in the countryside of Germany.
Obviously living over there will not be the same as vacationing over there. I will have to work, as will Roxy (at least until she decides to get her doctorate. Within a 45 minute train ride are 2 universities founded in the 1600s, one of which Albert Einstein taught at). We’ll have bills to pay, and a language to learn (I’m working on my Dutch). But it should be an adventure, and I can’t wait.