5 Unusual Things About Amsterdam

Some of the most interesting facts about a city or places to visit somewhere can only be discovered during a longer visit in a given place. Or with the help of a local. So today I’m sharing with you 5 unusual things about Amsterdam presented by Tendelle, who lives now in Amsterdam, from Travel à la Tendelle. This list only goes to show that there is a lot than meets the eye more to discover about any visited city – that is why you will find numerous worldwide curiosities and fan facts on Travel – Moments in Time.

Steep Stairs and Tall People

Steep Stairs - 5 unusual things about Amsterdam
Steep Stairs

Given the fact that the Netherlands is home to some of the tallest people in the world (men average 181cm and women average 168cm), the size of the staircases in this country has been mind boggling to me. First of all, they are very narrow – each step on a staircase can be as narrow as 15cm wide! To get up or down the stairs, you have to either walk sideways or tiptoe. I’m a pretty small girl and even I struggle with it, so I don’t understand how the Dutch giants manage to climb these stairs.

Houseboats are more expensive than normal houses

House Boats - 5 unusual things about Amsterdam
House Boats

When strolling along the canals of Amsterdam, you probably have noticed houseboats along the canals in all shapes and sizes. Some look like houses while others are actual boats; some are really charming while others are not as well kept. Indeed, people actually live in these boats! A friend of mine used to think that these were like trailers, where people live if they can’t afford an actual house. In fact, houseboats did use to be housing for the poor. However now these houseboats are the most expensive properties in Amsterdam. If you’re visiting Amsterdam and have a budget, why not rent a houseboat on AirBnb for an alternative experience?

Surinamese food is bomb

Surinamese food - 5 unusual things about Amsterdam
Surinamese food

Amsterdam is great for many things, but Dutch food is usually not one of them. Typical Dutch food is very earthy and hearty, featuring dishes like fries and pancakes. However, because of the Dutch colonial history a very delicious cuisine is part of the diet here – Surinamese!

Surinamese is a small country in the north of South America. And they have the most delicious food. Although, when I first arrived in Amsterdam, I was quite confused about why Surinamese food tasted so much like Indian and Southeast Asian food. They have dishes like curries, rice, and roti. Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that the largest demographic groups in Suriname are actually East Indians (descendants of contract workers from the 19th century), closely followed by Africans, Creole, and Javanese (Indonesian). This explains the food! When you’re in the Netherlands, be sure to try some tasty Surinamese cuisine. My personal favorite is Warung Spang Makandra in de Pijp.

Monday Warning Sirens

If you find yourself in Amsterdam at the beginning the month, you probably notice a loud siren sound. Dutch people seem oblivious to the noise and go about their day normally while you sit there wondering if you are starting to hear things. This actually is a warning system for emergencies, and they test the system every Monday of the month at midday. In fact, it’s supposed to be heard no matter where you are in the Netherlands. You may ask, what if an emergency does occur at midday on the first Monday of the month? Well then, this may be where the system breaks down…

Bikes and Lobsters in Canals

Fishing for Bikes - 5 unusual things about Amsterdam
Fishing for Bikes

Amsterdam has 165 canals that add up to more than 100 kilometers of waterways. What do you think are the most interesting things that are found under these canals? Well, for one, at least 12,000 bikes fall into the canals each year, either due to strong winds, vandalism, or accidents. They’re regularly fished out of the canals by Amsterdam’s waterway authority with cranes.

Another interesting thing you can find under the canals… crawfish! They say up to a million crawfish live in the depth of Amsterdam’s canals. Although I personally have not spotted one (yet), apparently young crawfish climb out of the canals after heavy rainfall to explore new territories. Crawfish are not native to Amsterdam’s canals, but a couple decades ago some were released into the canals. Though ecologists were once worried about the presence of crawfish leading to wildlife unbalance, Amsterdam’s herons have since discovered that crawfish are easy prey.

About the author: Tendelle was born in California but grew up in Taiwan. After graduating from university in Boston, she worked in NYC as a management consultant. After 3 years living the yuppy (“young urban professional”) life, she quit in favor of a life of adventure – subsequently traveling in South America for half a year, living in Barcelona for a year, and finally settling in Amsterdam. She’s now doing what she loves, working for a mobile app startup called Party with a Local and growing her blog, Travel à la Tendelle. Follow her on instagram as well.

5 Unusual Things About Amsterdam

5 Curiosities about Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Lori

I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

49 thoughts on “5 Unusual Things About Amsterdam

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  • 2 August, 2017 at 05:25
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    The stairs factoid made me laugh and I was amazed with the siren parts. Unbelievable how something like that would not affect their every day life (every 1st Monday). Thank you for sharing!

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  • 2 August, 2017 at 07:41
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    Amsterdam is a good place for travelers. Most of the flights that fly between India to London stop at Amsterdam for some time sometimes for flight change and sometimes to drop the tourists. Thanks for sharing.

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  • 2 August, 2017 at 12:03
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    My head is spinning by just looking at those steep stairs. I can’t imagine climbing it. very interesting facts about Amsterdam. But seriously, 12,000 bikes! Thank you for sharing this interesting post with us.

    Reply
  • 2 August, 2017 at 23:45
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    It is so enjoyable to read a post like this which digs deeper to come up with things that are definitely not obvious to tourists. It just makes any place so much more interesting. My fiance’s family is from the Netherlands and I can’t wait to discuss some of these things with him. We are due to visit his family there next year in Delft and am really looking forward to it.

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  • 4 August, 2017 at 19:10
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    That’s cool that they have interesting ethnic foods there. As for that regular sound at the beginning of each month, I suppose it’s not too much different than me being in California and not noticing small earth quakes any more, or not overreacting about them anyway.

    Reply
  • 5 August, 2017 at 09:06
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    Amsterdam is a really interesting city, beautiful but definitely interesting. I was there years ago and was just amazed at the sights and sounds. Even the moments or things that were definitely not what I was use too. I don’t think I tried Surinamese food there but I love Indian food so I’m sure this would be up my alley. yum!

    Reply
  • 6 August, 2017 at 07:21
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    All very unusual facts about Amsterdamn, from th stairs to the crawfish and the Surinamese food, but it does sound delicious.

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  • 6 August, 2017 at 10:43
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    I can’t imagine climbing steep stairs!! Oh, it’s scary!! Loved this post and these interesting facts about Amsterdam!! Thanks for sharing!!

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  • 6 August, 2017 at 12:10
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    I’ve only been to Amsterdam once and it was awesome! It’s a great place to explore especially since there’s plenty to see there. I cannot imagine living in a houseboat but it is quite interesting!

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  • 7 August, 2017 at 18:41
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    I haven’t been to Amsterdam since my early 20’s. That’s a lot of bikes to fall in the canal each year – good job they’re fished out!

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