Wishing you all a very happy start to 2017! We have an exciting line up of Amsterdammers to share with you in our Cyclist of the Month series. So, let’s get to it!
Jen is a 26-year-old Scottish lass who has loved living – and cycling – in the Netherlands for the past five years. When she isn’t out and about searching for that perfect vintage skirt, you can find her managing the team at Amsterdam’s legendary and delicious Greenwoods English Tearoom.
Welcome, Jen! We’re excited to kick off 2017 with you as our January Cyclist of the Month! To get started, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in Amsterdam.
Wow, I can’t believe that I’ve actually been in the Netherlands for five years! After finishing my childcare studies, I wanted to do a bit of traveling so, my adventure in the Netherlands actually began in The Hague where I spent a year as an Au Pair. That year, my favourite bike adventure was to cycle to the beach during summer. It was so surreal to spot all the families with the kids stacked on their bikes. Learning to balance with kids on the bike was a big step for me, it was at that point that I felt integrated. After a year back at home, I hopped on a plane because Amsterdam was calling! Luckily, I found a job quickly in a quaint tearoom called Greenwoods. Then and there that I knew that I’d stick around for a little longer than expected!
In your opinion, what makes Amsterdam so special for cycling?
The fact that you can cycle everywhere here is incredible and in my opinion, extremely luxurious! Coming from ‘the gateway to the Highlands’ in Scotland, my memories of cycling at home include beautiful scenery but, boy, oh boy, is it hilly! Those big, rolling hills makes cycling tricky.Holland is flat which is the obvious factor for easy cycling but Amsterdam is something else…
The historic scenery and canals really make it so special for me. Cycling everyday along the Keizersgracht on my way to work is so stunning that sometimes, I have to pinch myself! That’s why cycling in this city is so amazing!
Tell us more about your experience cycling in Amsterdam. Do you remember your first day(s) cycling here?
Oh yes, I can remember my first day cycling in Amsterdam as clear as mud (excuse the pun)… because I landed in it! Yes, that’s right. My first bicycle journey included me getting trapped in the tram tracks and face planting into the ground, on a cold winters day none the less.
Yikes! I think we’ve all been there at some point. Do you have any advice for newbies? My piece of advice to all new cyclists in Amsterdam: Watch those tram tracks! Once that lesson is learned, it becomes pretty straight forward. Also, get yourself a beautiful, big bell (which I don’t have at the moment, oops) to help avoid becoming passive aggressive at other cyclists. Last but not least, learn how to fix your chain. It’s the most important skill in my book because there is nothing worse than racing to work when you’re already late and then the chain flies off! Everything else can either be fixed by professionals at one the hundreds of bike stores everywhere.
How to you stay stylish – on a bike – during the cold winter months?
One of the greatest things about Amsterdam cyclists is that everybody remains extremely stylish, even while biking. You’ll even see girls wearing ball gowns and five-inch stiletto heels while cycling. Every girl in town knows how to survive with the hair band trick to gathering her dress, and avoid that pesky dress-stuck-in-the-chain problem. Actually, that happened to me once. I was wearing my friend’s lovely chiffon dress and it got stuck to the bike until, eventually, I had to cut my way free. That’s a night I will never forget!
My style is all about clothes, I’m not much of an accessories girl but scarves are crucial for wintertime. The scarf I’m wearing here is one of my favourite winter accessories! A good friend brought it to me from scarf from South Africa. It’s real Mohair and so cosy. I wear a lot of red and I’m never seen without my lipstick so, the colours of the scarf are very me.
As for clogs, the Dutch have done it right! I love my clogs and they are so practical that I can wear them during summer and winter. This red skirt is another favourite of mine, I love how it shimmers when I move or bike.
I like to think that I have my own style. I follow fashion closely and take different trends here and there and tend to recreate it in my own way. I’m a bargain hunter and a very quick shopper. I love digging through vintage stores and the IJ Hallen flea market too.
Your backpack is adorable! Where’s it from?
My backpack is my absolute favourite thing in the whole world! I was able to choose the fabric outside and inside, it’s wonderfully handy to use when cycling. This backpack was designed for me by my incredibly talented friend Olga who is a designer and seamstress who now lives in Australia.
Tell us about your typical day on two wheels. Do you have any special routes or routines when you’re cycling?
My favourite street has to be the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, the chosen location of our photoshoot. I love the stunning view leading up to the grand Rijksmuseum and all the little shops and galleries along the way. My love for that charming little street grown over the years since most days I’m cycling along Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, on my way to Greenwoods which is nearby along the Keizersgracht.
Tell us what you love (and loathe) about cycling in Amsterdam…
One of my favourite aspects of cycling here is the freedom that a bike can give you. The city is your oyster, day or night! Another is the time becuase you arrive at your destination in half the time compared to public transport. I also love that cycling is such good excercise too!
My least favourite aspect about cycling… wet seats. And that sometimes you can’t wear your favourite little dress because you might end up flashing the lovely people of Amsterdam, ha! Of course, finding out your bike was stolen is for sure the absolute worst thing that can happen but I suppose it’s a right of passage around here too.
So, have you experienced many stolen bikes during your time here in Amsterdam? What’s the story of your current bike?
This is by far my favourite bike that I’ve had! I bought it from a dear friend who moved to London. I promised to take good care of it and I’m sure that he will be very happy to see his dear old friend again in these photos. You try not to get too attached to your bike in Amsterdam because they are so easily stolen but its hard when you have a really good one.I think that I’ve had about 7 bikes in my 4 years in Amsterdam. That’s actually not too bad!
Thanks again Jen for sharing your life on two wheels with us! Tot ziens!
“I never plan to take pictures, I just bring my camera everywhere and then funny situations happen or special people pass in front of me and I take pictures. To be honest, I am quite a lazy photographer.” Amsterdam Cycle Chic is talking with Julie Hrudova a Czech born photographer living and working in Amsterdam. Julie made an Amsterdam Street Diary with her photos that in a few months will be exposed in the Amsterdam Central Library (OBA). “I like to photograph people, animals and kids. I focus on details; on expressions on faces, on reflections and shadows.”
Cycling in Amsterdam
Julie was born in Prague. When she was 10 years old she moved with her parents to Broek in Waterland a picturesque village north of Amsterdam. She remembers her first visit to Amsterdam: “I was overwhelmed by all the cyclists and when a few years later I started cycling in the city I found it quite difficult. There are certain unwritten rules; you can’t definitely go too slow and you have to indicate very well when you want to cross a street.” Now Julie loves to cycle and she cycles every day: “It is a moment to relax, to reflect on my day. I do not like to cycle along the canals, I prefer to take long straight streets. Then I don’t have to think and I can go fast.”
When Julie visits her family and friends in Prague she also takes pictures: “Dutch and Czech people have very different expressions on their faces. I think that Dutch people enjoy life and relaxing a bit more on their boats, in cafes and terraces, whereas Czechs are often exhausted due to tighter work schedules and pressure. I like to observe these differences. Further on, it is fascinating to see Prague transforming from a grey city of decayed buildings I used to live in into a popular tourist destination of shiny cars, billboards and luxury shops. When I’m there it always strikes me how much it has changed.”
Amsterdam Street Dairy
“The Amsterdam Street Diary is a photo diary of Amsterdam. The pictures tell a story, about Amsterdam, the people and the change of seasons. I think, being Czech, I still look at the city as an outsider, so I notice details of typical Amsterdam life that Amsterdam born people probably won’t see.” One of Julie’s favourite areas in Amsterdam for photography is the Red Light District: “It is fascinating to see the contrasts in that area; the beautiful old houses and canals, the raw and sad atmosphere and the combination of people born and raised in Amsterdam with the sightseeing tourists.”
Julie’s Amsterdam Street Dairy will be exhibited in the OBA in September for three months. On Amsterdam Cycle Chic we will post a few of the cycling pictures of her diary.
Our friends from the Cycling with… blog went for a cycle with Julie. Check out the great result!
It seems our last post has inspired our dear blog readers, or at least my mother (Merci Maman!) who sent me this nice picture of the artist Fabien Nissels:
As perfectly explained on the Visual News website: “If you liked playing with Mr. Potato Head as a kid, then you will love this new project by photographer Fabien Nissels. By photographing each of his friend’s body parts at different angles then printing them out on life size cubes, he created a modular man with lots of hilarious options. They positioned the pieces in various poses in a myriad of locations and the result was quite entertaining. According to Nissels, “There is no photoshop cheating, our modular man really went to all these places and always asked for souvenir pictures, except maybe the one when he was on the toilets.” Check out the rest of the collection on Nissels’ website.”