I am loving our neighborhood in Oud-Zuid, Amsterdam. We heard it was nice, but seeing is believing! When we were deciding where we wanted to live, we contemplated living in a suburb where we could get a bigger home with more room for Penny (oh, Penny). After lots of back and forth, we landed on staying in the city, because when else are we going to get to experience European city life? We got input from some of Grayson’s co-workers, and landed on the Oud-Zuid (Old South) neighborhood. It is a very nice and safe neighborhood in Amsterdam where a lot of fellow ExPats reside, and it is just outside the city Centrum and canal ring.
We live in the bottom two floors of a great row-house on Valeriusstraat. So far, my favorite thing about our neighborhood is our proximity to Vondelpark. Just a quick two blocks stroll from our front door, it is the Central Park of Amsterdam, and the most famous in all the Netherlands. Although I’ve walked Max through there nearly every day, I have yet to explore the entire park. I could write an entire post about the park…so I will soon!
A close second favorite is the Farmer’s Market in the neighborhood on Saturdays. It’s open all day, but you have to get there early if you want to get the good stuff! It’s in a small space, but there are stands of everything you need week-to-week from meat and vegetables to flowers and spices. They pride themselves on being one of the most organic and sustainable markets in all of Amsterdam. Last Saturday, they asked me if I’d like to become a member and work the vegetable stand a half day every month! I think that means I’m getting “in” with the locals.
“I think that means I’m getting “in” with the locals.”
Many people in Amsterdam don’t own cars (but there is a 3-1 bicycle-to-people ratio!). That means everything for day-to-day needs to be walking distance, and our neighborhood is no exception. About two or three times each week, I load up Max either in his stroller or baby carrier, and we go out to pick up what we need. There is no Costco phenomenon here, and no Target one-stop shopping either. Serving sizes are small and you only buy what you can carry, and there is an individual shop for each necessity or luxury. Luckily, the closest store kitty-corner to our house is our wine shop Nan, so we have that covered! Around the corner is the “big” grocery store Albert Heijn, a popular chain here. I say “big” because although it’s the closest thing to an American grocery store, Max’s stroller barely fits in the single aisle through the shop! In the opposite direction is the bakery and Tom Ensink’s produce stand. Around the corner from them is the butcher, hardware store, and basic sundries shop. On the way to Vondelpark, you hit our tiny little pet store for Penny’s food and treats. The shop keeper once offered to close his store down so he could walk us home with a bag of dog food! These are just the basic, weekly shops we go to – there are so many more! Each of these shops are manned by 2-3 people maximum on any given day, and we are getting to know each of them. They have some very interesting stories, and I’ll share more as we go.
Everyone rides bikes here, and each bike has some sort of basket on it – from the small basket up front to a giant bucket that can load up two kids and a dog. The sidewalks are lined with parked bikes, their owners in shops or tucked away at home. Gray already has a bike here, and I’ll be getting one soon (although I haven’t ridden in years!). There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood as well, all much more behaved than our Penny. Some ride in baskets on bikes, others trot alongside their owner. Most don’t use leashes, and the dogs sit patiently outside stores while their humans shop. Someday maybe, Penny.
We are in a trendy area, so there are also a lot of fabulous clothing boutiques and restaurants of all cultures. There are home decor shops, a beautiful church, cafes, flower shops, and dessert shops. Everything I have mentioned in this post is within a two block radius of our front door, and I find someplace new to explore every time we go out and about. All these adventures in just our neighborhood! Significantly different than the miles and miles and hours of drive time to get to places in Montana! Can’t wait to see what all of Europe has in store for us.
I’ll write more about all of Amsterdam as we explore, but for now you can click this link for some basic info about the city.