These days I’m living on a busy, touristy street in the middle of the center of Amsterdam. It’s hard to be more central, my place is literally 300 meters from Centraal station, a neighborhood I never envisioned myself living. I’ve lived in the south, the center/east (near Weesperplein), two places in the pijp, and a canal-side apartment off the Leidsekade. Now I’m in the exact area that I thought I’d never live in – on a busy, super-touristy street that smells like pot smoke and fast food.
Honestly, it’s perfect. It’s big (90 sq meters, two floors!), I only share it with my boyfriend, and the absolute best most wonderful part about it is that I have zero issues with the neighbors. Whenever I walk down the street, I smile and wave at the men and women who work in the coffee shops, kebab stands, sex stores, and tourist-friendly restaurants. My neighbors across the street have at least two or three young kids who are always at the window looking down, waving, shouting, and playing. A few days ago there was a gigantic rain storm in the middle of the day, and my boyfriend and I ran to our front windows to watch the people on the street either try to hide or just take off their clothes and run around in delight. The kids across the street did the same thing, and we waved and yelled hello to each other.
I used to wave and yell hello to my neighbor across the street when I lived on the Saphartistraat as well, and one time we even ran into each other on the street and finally said hello in person. It’s so easy to see into your neighbors homes here in Amsterdam – partly because it’s a city and we all live so closely together, but also because Dutch people aren’t in the habit of really closing themselves in. It’s strange, one could say the dutch are a “closed” type of people, but at the same time they’re perfectly find leaving their curtains and windows and doors wide open whenever possible. I like this, because I like sticking my nose in everyone’s business. Most people pretend they don’t look into other people’s windows, but the kids across the street and my former non-dutch neighbor actually enjoy the fact that we can see and hear each other. It’s part of why we live in a city and not the middle of nowhere.
It’s a fantastic place where I live – the building is old, the house is leaning over (like you see in postcards), I live among a lot of very dutch people and a lot of very foreign people and while my street is busy with tourists and music all day long, cars are not allowed down my street. My boyfriend (who isn’t Dutch) and I were welcomed the first day we moved in by people in the restaurant across the street, who told us that they only accepted cash (we didn’t have any, only bank cards) but not to worry, we could come back some other time to pay them. This is my 6th apartment in three years of living in Amsterdam, and it’s the place that feels the most like home. I didn’t expect to like the neighborhood as much as I do, but I’ve never felt so at ease anywhere else in this city.