When we returned from our quick jaunt to NYC, a few people asked me how it compared to Amsterdam. I had been to NYC many times before, and regarded it as an over-the-top, typical North American city on steroids, peppered with the New Yorker spirit, yellow honking cabs, and unforgettable Broadway shows. When I visited two weekends ago, I saw the city differently, and naturally couldn’t help compare it to my beloved Amsterdam.
NYC window display (above) vs. Amsterdam window display (below)
The first difference I noticed was that there are a lot more cars in NYC than in Amsterdam. In A’dam, people use their bikes and the trams for the bulk of inter-city transportation, while in NYC, the streets were constantly plugged with heavy traffic. I did see some cyclists, but the lack of bike paths made for some pretty wild bike-riding.
NYC street market (above) vs. Amsterdam street market (below)
Before I continue, I must say that I’m not trying to point out faults in one city, over another. I’m just reporting on their differences, the things that struck me. I love both NYC and Amsterdam, and they really are so difference that you can’t compare them on a larger scale. One city is filled with old-world charm, coziness, and relaxation, while the other is the hub of North America, pulsing constantly to the beat of its vibrant citizens, entertainment, and culture. They’re totally different, perhaps even polar opposites in some regard.
As we were walking through Midtown and the Upper East Side, I noticed these women, clad in fur with red lipstick painted on their oversized lips, looking like surprised Zombies. They were spooky! Completely surgically-enhanced in some areas, and decked head to toe in decadent clothing, they all looked like clones of each other. In Amsterdam, I never saw women with over-the-top plastic surgery. In fact, the older women aged so gracefully, that they often looked in their 30s, with the addition of a few story-lines on their faces.
When we stepped into the Palace Hotel, we saw a woman with a tiny dog, shaved, and dressed in a Juicy Couture sweater. As we made our way to the Columbus Day parade, we passed some ladies on 5th Ave who had decked their dogs in matching outfits. I turned to Gabriel, “no one in Amsterdam would ever be caught dead with a dressed-up dog, except on Queen’s Day.”
Architectural differences between the two cities
Gabriel replied, “If a Dutchie saw this, they would throw the owner into a canal, and rescue the dog!” I don’t believe I ever saw a dog dressed up while in the Netherlands. Amsterdammers love their dogs (and while I’m on the subject, I didn’t see one bit of dog poop in NYC, something I can’t say about A’dam…), but they’re often bigger dogs who are so well-trained they walk without leashes.
Gabriel noticed how everyone was shorter in NYC, and he felt like his usual tall self (6 foot 2 is considered average in A’dam, and I think he liked reclaiming his status as “the tall guy”, when we were in NYC).
I noticed how all the stores in NYC are open late, even into the wee hours of the night! Venture out of the Dam Square region late on a Saturday night, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pharmacy, restaurant, or convenience store open for business. It was great to be able to grab a reuben sandwich at a Madison Ave diner, filled with NYPD cops, at 11pm.
Every city is different, and every city retains its own vibe. NYC and Amsterdam are two of the world’s greatest cities. Which one do you prefer?