11 December 2013

Amsterdam versus Vancouver

I've been keeping a list of criteria that matter to me.

By these measures, Amsterdam > Vancouver.

(Tell me if you have others)

Urban feel
Canals > mountains
Vondelpark (center of town) > Stanley park (edge of town)
Walk up > high rise
Red light > east Hastings
Drizzle ~ downpour

Parties and such
Coffee shops < dispensaries (only after you've been found "disabled")
MDMA > cocaine ("people use coke b/c it's cheap")
Take bike > stolen bike (why you need to drive to parties)
Heineken < microbrews
Cheap liquor > BC liquor
Day parties < Burner parties
Slow friends < Fast friends

Metric > imperial (arg!)
Mayo > ketchup
Artists > hipsters
1928 > 2010 (perhaps a summary indicator of "with it")
Mandatory personal health insurance > subsidy wars
Douwe egberts < baristas (way better coffee in VanC)

Bikes > cars
Flow > Traffic jams (people need 40% more $ to sit in traffic)
No car > free parking
Ring road > grid
Schiphol > Vancouver International

Traffic near Portland
I grew up in an urban area (San Francisco) and always felt that cars were normal, until I got to Amsterdam and learned how a "people centric" city can feel.* It's amazing, the way that Amsterdam is so calm and relaxed. Amsterdam has spoiled North America for me. Since I can work anywhere (and lots of people can, if they're flexible on their goals), I've decided to move back there :)

* My girlfriend, Cornelia, started Sustainable Amsterdam and Sustainable Vancouver. The first was an attempt to explain why it's great; the second was to try to get Vancouver to reach a little higher than "best city in North America." Here's her talk on how Vancouver can be more bike friendly, Dutch style :)


  1. Dude, heineken= BDAQPI Canada.

    If you haven't found quality beers in Amsterdam, it's your own fault for not looking!


  2. bugger, half my comment disapeared!

    Short story, I suspect you are wrong on the beer!

  3. @adam -- I meant a selection of 100+ beers. 'T IJbrewerij isn't enough. Suggestions for the other 95?

  4. David - we're living in the East (SF) Bay Area and there are some cities here that are really making efforts to be more bike/ped friendly (unfortunately our town is not one of them). However, none of them compare with Davis, which is probably the best it gets in the US. Any chance you'd head back there?

    Good luck on your move and although I never comment, I really enjoy your blog. Thank you!

  5. Have you appropriately weighed the reasons why you left in the first place? (I'm not saying I know what they are, I don't). If you have given them ample thought, then it sounds like you should get back to Amsterdam. If not, I suggest taking some more time and effort to make Vancouver work for you.

  6. @jess. "appropriate" is loaded but you're right. We're moving back. The cars vs. people paradigm is a deal killer. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the coffee and burners ;)

  7. Culture
    Metric > imperial (arg!)

    Nowhere in BC uses the imperial system. Seriously, did you not know this!?

    1. You didn't talk to the same people I talked to!


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