Why Haarlem is way better than Amsterdam [The Netherlands]

in travel •  2 years ago  (edited)

In many cities people live because they were born there. It’s quite easy to say then that this place is your favorite city, because it’s a simple effect of conditioning… it’s what you know, it’s what was indirectly forced upon you to perceive as ‘home’. It’s very different if you consciously choose a city to be yours, as a clear conclusion of having considered all other available options within a reasonable range. That’s what I did with Haarlem. 

The city that’s home in a life where home doesn’t exist.

I was born in Halsteren, then moved to Bergen op Zoom, lived in Tilburg for 5 years as a ranting student and after many international relocations shortly ended up in Eindhoven (ouch) and subsequently Amsterdam, the trendy promised land for all high-educated yuppies looking for a hipster haven full of careers. 

Amsterdam taught me what loneliness feels like. It’s really interesting that the more people you cram into one tiny place, unable to walk the streets without bumping into each other, public transport forcing you into tight physical contact, the more separated and individualistic people become. It’s like everyone moves around through daily life wearing this dog-lampshade-collar, zigzagging in between this urban jungle with the specific objective to not socialize with anyone that doesn’t already belong to their friends clique. Amsterdam is bursting at the seams, having a surplus of residents and even more tourists whirling over its tiny streets built for only 5% of that population, leaving everyone annoyed and stressed because the concept of personal space has completely vanished and foreigners have no clue what bicycle lanes are meant for.

Better go to Haarlem (where I escaped to next)... where you find the exact same cityscape of historic buildings and scenic canals, but a bit prettier and without the tourists. Only 20 minutes away from Amsterdam by train but yet a completely different city (a mistake made by hands full of Couchsurfers I hosted here). It’s The Netherlands how foreigners imagine it to be, but surprisingly enough hardly any foreigner comes down to see it.

Haarlem I chose to deserve my eternal affection.

The little boats leisurely navigating through the canals on a lazy summer day. The historic windmill waving at visitors entering the municipality. Those buildings soaked up in history, picturesque bridges opening for large sail boats coming through. How those blonde people pull the pedals of their bikes with their long toned legs, driving passed the immense cathedral, already gotten used to its beauty. Mums carrying kids called Roos and Sander on their arms, letting them taste from the best cheese our world has ever brought forth, nibbling on a piece of raw herring with onions themselves, slid into the mouth held by its tail. The way people decorate public streets with flowers, because those streets are also theirs. The streets where men like Frans Hals and Pieter Claesz used to walk.

The reason why it’s so easy for me to be vegan and therefore quit my cheese-obsession is because nowhere in the world cheese is as good as in The Netherlands. No, not in Spain, not in Italy and certainly not in France. Whatever they call ‘cheese’ in the rest of the world is for me a totally different product, so only here I struggle. Yeah, let me be a patriot for once, a ‘cheesetriot’.

I like to sit on a square and absorb the sounds and laughter when terraces fill on that rare sunny day we’re now and then treated on and watch how balconies are decorated with such passion as to force the sun to show his face once in awhile. Balconies on houses that have their curtains always open, as here people think these are only required if you have something to hide.

I follow the little alleys that invite to wander, every blessed day here still uncovering hidden parts of the city I always thought I knew so well. 

The city where I always go back to... to relive and recreate memories about the beautiful people I’m lucky enough to call my friends.

Until we meet.


P.S. Yes, Haarlem, not Harlem. We were first. In fact, Harlem is named after Haarlem, just like Brooklyn is named after the Dutch city Breukelen and New York was once New Amsterdam. History, people.

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It looks like kinderdijk, with all the windmills. Are you Dutch yourself?

Thanks for the history of Brooklyn, interesting.

Haha windmills are indeed all over the country... which I know because I was born here yes haha. You ever visited?

Hey, I've never been there, only been to Kinderdijk to see the windmills. I'm going to check out Zaandam soon after Steemfest. Have you been there?

Great post I will definitely follow @budgetbucketlist I love Travel also, If you are looking for some travel inspiration I offer a Travel Bucket List series, follow back and stay in touch!

Thanks a lot! Yes I'm always on the road, non-stop, just see where the wind takes me ;) I just posted one about Edinburgh, have you ever been there? https://steemit.com/travel/@budgetbucketlist/redheads-bagpipes-and-harry-potter-that-s-right-i-visited-scotland-edinburgh

Very nice pics, I can agree with you. Haarlem is nicer, more quiet then Amsterdam, but also quite alive ;-)
I was there some weeks ago and enjoyed it a lot!
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I'm very glad to hear that, where else you traveled in The Netherlands?

I am agreed, Haarlem is more beautiful touristic place as Amsterdam in my opinion as well:).

:) We're on one line then haha

Hehe, Much Love.

Oh somebody is home! Don't shoot me but I thought New York is from York..like New Jersey is from Jersey?? Ive heard of a New Amsterdam though am not sure from where.
20 minutes isn't that far, prettier and scenic canals, did u say??

Lol, I live in Haarlem and I don't think the canals here are prettier than in Amsterdam. What I like more about Haarlem is fewer tourists. :)

That might mean you constantly see it and to you it is now ordinary?? Just my 2 cents ;)

Exactly, we didn't found New Amsterdam so interesting so we traded it with England for Surinam... who renamed it. Hm. Not sure if that worked as planned?

Yeah I was back home for a bit. I became an auntie! I'm in Lithuania now though.

Congratulations auntie!! Only a baby can bring u back home then?
Surinam is where?? That didn't work right definitely. Have fun girl.

Haha the Dutch Antilles, northern part of South America :) Thanks Steemit-friend, I certainly am.

Do you know how to use the chopsticks? You can eat anything with it. I still haven't forgotten that fork being used by everyone.
Other than that..I envy everything you do :)

You know what would be cool? If some of those boats could be rented in Airbnb Haarlem :) Visit the city during the day, have some laughs in one of those sunny terraces and take a tour of those lakes via boat.

Well surprise surprise, you for sure can. Many people live on boats, they're transformed into houses. Used to be cheaper as you weren't occupying land, just water. Until they changed the law of course.

It's funny how every law they change everything gets harder and more expensive for the people... What a coincidence :P

What a wonderful post!
I enjoyed it a lot.. thanks for sharing :)

Sure I upvoted and resteemed it :)
Please, read my message to you on steemit.chat

its kind of funny how all tourists want to go where there is no tourists..

And more then once, a place have become a tourist magnet, because it have become known as a place without tourists.. lol

Well luckily Haarlem isn't a tourist magnet yet, but still better than all tourist magnets in the country.

leuke blog, lijkt me wel een leuke plaats om eens een bezoekje te brengen upvoted en ik volg je nu op steemit, groeten

Nog nooit geweest? Zeker een dagtripje waard, of beter, een lang weekend!

ikzelf ben er nog nooit geweest, staat in ieder geval nu door je blog op mijn verlanglijstje, groeten

Love Haarlem to go sometimes still have to vote for Amsterdam! sorry.


Found a hidden gem today in Amsterdam.
The Dutch keep exploring

I lived there too indeed. But not sharing that opinion haha. But I go back every time I'm in Holland to visit my friends that live there.

The city where I always go back to... to relive and recreate memories about the beautiful people I’m lucky enough to call my friends…

Exactly :)

Hey, I live in Haarlem since last week. Nice city indeed.

Oh you do? How did you end up there? Lucky man :)

It is a beautiful place and i plan to visit in 2018, i have already been to Harlem, Brooklyn and New York City. LOL

Haha then you can compare :) I don't think there will be many similarities though

Looks interesting. I have never been there. Nice photos

So now I gave you a reason to go :) Let me know how your experience was, or better, write it on steemit!

I might be going to Amsterdam next year, its a beautiful city but I get what you mean about cramming people into a small space and the isolation that paradoxically comes with that. Iv found most cities to be like that and perhaps the tourists dont help? Edinburgh is a big tourist city but it can be very impersonal, unlike Glasgow, a larger more jam packed city, yet friendlier, also less tourists. Glasgow Smiles Better is the city motto.

I think we will have to check Haarlem out, thanks for the awesome incentive. Cheese is a big yes too! We all like cheese!

Haha interesting you just mention Edinburgh and Glasgow... I just posted a blog about that one as I visited there next https://steemit.com/travel/@budgetbucketlist/redheads-bagpipes-and-harry-potter-that-s-right-i-visited-scotland-edinburgh and Glasgow will be my next blog haha

I just read it and it was just braw!

I look forward to the Glasgae' one too!

Love the pics! What a beautiful city.

  ·  2 years ago Reveal Comment

Hope you have chance to visit it once!


A great post and a history lesson. I think you should stay quiet about Haarlem though, your followers may all decide to visit, then it will become a “tourist destination”

Haha you're right! Interesting post you have there by the way

Say hello to my little friend. ;-)

What a joy to read! You write the kind of stuff I want to read. I will have to visit Haarlem now :)))

It sure looks more laid back than Amsterdam. Like a. Nice place to visit. 🐓🐓