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  • David

My first impressions of Amsterdam: David

Getting lost in Amsterdam with all the canals and similar-looking-streets is easy, but luckely David has a tip how to make sure you always get home. Keyword: Amstel!

Photo: Beautiful canal and boat houses

It’s been nearly one month since I arrived in Amsterdam, a city as splendid in summer as any I’ve ever seen. The canals are painted in color, the water reflects the buildings beside them, and the people move about by bike, making time to enjoy the weather without really slowing down. It is, in sum, a beautiful place to be.

Amsterdam starts in the city center and radiates outward from there; streets spread out like spokes on a bike and bridges cross the canals that bisect them. Herengracht, Keisersgracht, and Prinsengracht, in that order, wrap the city in three concentric half circles, rippling away from Central Station. The straats and grachts that run between them make for a city fabric of water and railways, bike paths and pedestrian districts. They are, for the foreigner, a first step in spatial understanding and a guide to navigation in this city by the sea. They are not, however, fool-proof, and you will at times get lost...

Photo: My mural

I resolved after the first week to find my way in this city and so began a mural on my wall. Amsterdam is in orbit at the center, a curvature of canals. Follow the same one for too long and you’re off in a different direction. With zero elevation, a cohesive mix of homes, and street names that are hard to say, it can be difficult to orient yourself. My tip for the beginner is this: pay attention to the water and keep the Amstel at your side. One main river flows in, one main river takes you out. Regardless of the place that you call home, the Amstel makes for your only real landmark in city made of water.

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