Tipping culture in Amsterdam

Regardless of what you think of tipping culture in the United States, one of its clear advantages is that the rules are pretty consistent. Expensive, yes, but consistent. Service workers in the Netherlands get paid a livable wage so, in theory, tipping isn’t required. Perhaps if you’re particularly wowed by extraordinary service, you might be moved…

Fighting FOMO with festivals

Living in Amsterdam necessarily means reckoning with FOMO in one form or another. There is so much that you could be doing that you cannot, within the limitations of space-time, do it all. Some weekends, Trenton and I cope with FOMO by resisting the pressure to experience life and deploying a willfully ignorant response, buckling down with the Xbox…

No bikes for tourist[s]?

If you had asked me a year ago what I thought about tourists using bikes in Amsterdam, I would have been unequivocally in support of the idea. When Trenton and I first moved here, I hadn’t ridden a bike since college, and even then my skills were pretty sub-par. I was (am?) a fiercely stubborn…

Books I read in May

Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein I wasn’t surprised to learn that Vogelstein is a writer for WIRED because this book reads like a nicely paced piece of long-form journalism. There is enough historical context to accompany the deeply nerdy stuff so that I didn’t get bogged…

The Hard Rock Café of Dutch-Indonesian cuisine

Indonesian food is prevalent in Amsterdam (Indonesia having been colonized by the Dutch), and one of the most popular Indonesian restaurants in town is Tempo Doeloe. According to their website, “Tempo Doeloe” roughly translates from Indonesian to “the good old days” and they are known particularly for their rijsttafels. A rijsttafel is a bit like Indonesian…

Joining the library when you don’t speak the language

As I’ve mentioned before, checking out books from the Amsterdam public library isn’t free. Considering how otherwise literate and progressive the Netherlands is (with a few notable exceptions), this came as quite a surprise to me. But, like the efficient and functional infrastructure, the beautiful parks and the low crime rate that we presumably pay…

Learning to love a non-reader

My first date with Trenton started in a bookstore. We had dinner reservations, but had arranged to meet beforehand at the Carmichael’s next door. I got there first and was nervously browsing the fiction section when he came up behind me and said something about the great smell of books. Smitten. A few dates later I loaned…