I spent most of last week in Amsterdam. Now that’s a cool place. You should visit if you haven’t.

I love flying, but man flying to Europe is an exercise in endurance. It’s a physically draining experience. Luckily (maybe) you can sleep on the flight over because you fly at night. I extra lucked out in that there was no one in the middle seat, so the guy at the window and I had space to stretch, store our crap etc. That was nice and made the flight really tolerable.

I like Frontier, and I like Southwest. Flying over seas you’re a bit limited. I choose to fly British Airways. They’re pleasant enough. Why they don’t remove 1 maybe 2 aisles and re-distribute that space to each row in steerage I can’t understand. It’s not like it was a cheap flight, and those people who pay to fly their kids first class must more than make up for the loss of revenue in 1-2 rows of steerage.

Anyhow. Appsterdam.

I had never been to the Netherlands, it’s a cool place. Very English friendly, which as a tourist and business person are huge. They may start a conversation or greeting in Dutch, but will quickly switch to damn good english for you when it’s clear Dutch ain’t your thing. The Appsterdam team holds weekly drink ups for folks to hang out and meet each other. Monthly Weekly lunch meet ups with speakers from all over on a number of topics. One thing they want to make clear, it’s not an Apple group. Android, RIM, Windows Phone, iOS, etc all are welcome. It’s about the apps, not the platform. They even do family weekends to help spouses and kids feel connected to the community. Something I think is a great idea and will likely help lower barriers to participation/relocation.

I stayed with my friends Mike and Judy who are the architects of Appsterdam, a  movement to encourage and support app makers. Ideally those makers move to Appsterdam (Amsterdam’s nerd name) and enjoy the growing community there.

Mike and Judy have a Canal house apartment.. It’s bad ass. You walk out the front door, cross a little street, and WATER. Amsterdam is everything i loved about Venice Italy, minus the smell and the Italians. No offense guys but Italians aren’t a friendly group, and not speaking english isn’t an accomplishment. Houses range in size like anywhere, to smaller studios to multi story town home style affairs. i guess it’s a dutch thing but they rarely close their windows. It was cool to see how folks live while walking the city.

The city is frankly what I’d want a city anywhere to be. The government undertakes studies to decide on courses of action, vs. simply throwing out a law to “solve” some issue. It’s nice to see a government run by people who don’t knee jerk, but take the time to actually examine an issue and see what makes sense.

Biking is huge. Like crazy huge. Denver is very proud of it’s bike friendliness, but compared to Amsterdam we hate bikes. There are as many bikes in Amsterdam as there are people (14 million according to a magazine i read). Most roads have a dedicated bike line. Heck most roads have 1 lane for cars, one for bikes. Pedestrians watch the fuck out. Amsterdam’ers bike everywhere, they even have  bike freeways to get from city to city. Try getting from Boulder to Denver. It’s doable, but not likely pleasant.

My only complaint about the bikes is that they’re everywhere. The Dtuch see bikes as tools and commodities so most are pieces of shit that are slowly rusting away beneath their rider. If there isn’t a bike rack (there are woefully few) bikes are just locked to anything or nothing. Sitting, laying whatever, bikes are everywhere, one hotel we looked at for an event, had a huge pile of bikes out front, not pretty. Forget where you put yours? buy a new one. Apparently since bike theft is fairly common, the dutch don’t invest much in their bikes since it’ll be stolen eventually. While I know the feeling (September is Steal John’s Bike month, 2011 was the second year of this seemingly annual tradition), I can’t fathom my daily rider being a wobbly, clunky, rusted POS.

It’s funny, here a bell ringing is to let pedestrians know a bike is coming. There a bell ringing is the only warning you’re gonna get that you’re about to be hit by a bike.

Nicole and I have thrown around the idea of taking time to live abroad and I still hope that one day we can do it. Amsterdam is now very high on that list. It’s not as tropical as the spanish speaking countries we visit (nicole speaks pretty good spanish, and I understand enough), but it’s very similar to Denver weather wise, except…

Standing water.

The weather is much like Denver with one exception. Humidity. During my visit the average temp was mid 40s ish. Not terrible, very Denver like for Winter. I packed accordingly. However 40 doesn’t feel like 40 when there’s 93% humidity. Yeah 93%! 7% away from swimming. So that kinda sucked, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.


So all that said, I had a blast in Amsterdam and hope to be back. I’m not sure if moving is in the cards anytime soon, but the bug is definitely in there and it’s been energized by being abroad again.


By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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