The first thing you feel landing on the Amsterdam Airport is excitement of the buzzing crowd. People are everywhere, trying to find their transportation to the city center. After you conquer the first hurdle sensation that spreads through your body when you reach the city of Amsterdam, is replaced by the feeling of safety and overwhelming calm.
In my upbringing I was thought to always be careful and prepared for every possible outcome when traveling. I was warned never to get into strange peoples cars, especially when they offer you candy and never to leave my belongings unsupervised. I am always prepared to find my way around new surroundings, determine the North as soon as possible and know where my residence is.
Keeping all that in mind I was highly suspicious when the feeling of safety and familiarity overcame my body first time my feet touched the ground in Amsterdam. I was strolling around town carrying a humongous suitcase filled with my life and trying to find a girl with a key to my new apartment. I was hot, exhausted and relaxed. That is what Amsterdam does. The city makes you feel like you are in a perpetual state of ease.
Amsterdam was built on tree logs, it is often referred to as “Venice of the North” and that is the reason why the houses are relatively low, usually just three stories high. So, when you are walking, or cycling around town you don’t feel intimidated by the architecture. Everything is friendly looking, and people are especially helpful when you look like a lost puppy desperately searching for directions on your phone.
Even the most dangerous looking people in my neighborhood chilling on scooters, dressed in jumpsuits and hoodies offered to carry my bags after grocery shopping. It is nerve-wrecking for someone who is on a constant look out for dangerous situations such as myself. I had to shut down my “surviving” mechanism and just accept the help.
I should’ve known what’s coming when I saw a sign forbidding balloons at the entrance of the train station on Schiphol airport. I kid you not, I have a photo to prove it: The “No Balloons” sign is standing on the right side of the stairs to a train station. You can expect to feel extra safe in a country that forbids balloons on train platforms due to children letting their inflated friends tangle in overhead power lines causing smoke and smoldering particles. The smoke detector was extra sensitive, so they had to control kids with balloons. Of course, why not? Safety first.
To be honest the most dangerous situation you can find yourself in Amsterdam is traffic around Museumplein. It is a stunning area with Rijks and Van Gogh Museum, huge park and a "IamAmsterdam" sign, but traffic around it is kind of crazy. Enormous amount of bicycles and cars are trying to confuse you in your way. But the only thing you have to focus on is following the traffic signs and don't be afraid. Never show fear. For every other riding a bike information this video is more than helpful.
All in all living in Amsterdam has taught me to relax and don’t look at strangers as potential enemies trying to gain something from my recklessness. Even when you are cycling back home in the middle of the night you don’t feel uneasy or threatened. But keep in mind that riding your bike without working lights can be dangerous and expensive if police catches you, even in the city of balloons.