Lovely things lately in Amsterdam (summer’s a-coming)

By Hannah Carter-Moore, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

While your year abroad certainly brings both its ups and downs, time in Amsterdam lately has been filled with those moments of god I love my life. The weeks connecting April to May are a pretty unparalleled time for UvA students as, bar Christmas, it’s the only time you get an official break. Writing this post was so nice for me as it’s put some of my highlights in one place, and will maybe also offer some things to look forward to if Amsterdam is your study abroad destination.

Spring invites a wave of Dutch public holidays, and they do them well.

Kings day in Amsterdam was one of the most chaotic, but most hilarious days of my year. It begins with kings night, the night before kings day, where there are stages dotted around the city, each packed with crowds of people. The main event, though, is definitely kings day itself. Wearing orange is a non-negotiable. I began the day at an all-too painful hour of the morning to get on a boat with a group of friends. But oh was it worth it. Our 4 hours on the canals flew by, at which point we got off and explored the crowd-filled streets of Jordaan. People play music right from their windows or bring their decks out onto the street, creating pockets of street parties. One of the best and most memorable days here for sure.

A few days after kings day is liberation day, which isn’t quite as big of a thing as kings day but still brings a few festivities around the city. I went to Westerpark in the north west-ish part of Amsterdam, where there were several outdoor music events going on. Lovely vibes all round, and a bit more subdued than kings day, which was needed.

I also had a friend to stay recently – one of the perks about being so close to the UK. We had a gorgeous day rummaging through clothes at Waterlooplein market, before heading to the Stedelijk museum (Amsterdam’s contemporary art gallery that you could easily spend a whole day in it’s so big), and winding down at Jazz Cafe Alto (basically my second home at this point and the first port-of-call for anyone visiting). 

Finally, my new-found favourite spot: Amsterdamse bos. The bos is just a 25 minute cycle out of central Amsterdam but it transports you to an idyllic countryside-like landscape. If there was a hut there I could live in, I would. I’ve been a couple times now, with my most recent trip consisting of spending a whole day by the lake sunbathing and eating hummus-dipped baguette (heaven). I wasn’t brave enough for a swim but it’s on my bucket list for my next trip, which I’m sure will be very shortly (as soon as UvA releases me from its group project grip). 

I love this point of my year abroad because it feels like I’m really honing in on my favourite parts of the city, while still discovering new hidden gems to add to the list. There are now more hot sunny days than not so it definitely feels like summer is coming – and dare I say it, maybe here?!

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