Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ian, 27
Cultural Analyst
see his Amsterdam city guide

a bit about Ian

What do you do and why do you do it?

I'm a Cultural Analyst by training, which means I'm interested in people and how we live our lives. In a world that is getting smaller on a daily basis thanks to technology, I think about how people and places are more accessible than ever. Considering the world and people on a global scale has implications for lots of different things: I've worked with cultural communications agencies, universities, and anyone who wants to chat about our ever-changing world. I'm passionate about education and making human-to-human connections in a world where we could all be more thoughtful, and more knowledgeable about ourselves and one another.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?

One summer when I was in university, I couldn't find a job. I had applied at what seemed like a thousand restaurants, bringing my resume everywhere and trying hard to break into hospitality. When that didn't pan out, my dad offered for me to do some filing in his office. If you've ever done a few week's worth of filing, you'll know how lonely and boring it is - those are two things I can't stand! Thankfully my uncle saved me by hiring me to help with his contracting business, where I learned a ton and had a blast.

Were you born and raised in Amsterdam? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Amsterdam?

I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. Ottawa is sort of the ideal place to grow up. It is a green city, nestled along the banks of a river in a beautiful valley. In the winter we would head further north to ski every weekend, but summers at our cottage are where I really grew up. My family is lucky enough to have a beautiful and simple cabin on an island in the middle of a lake. I grew up waterskiing and sailing, canoeing and jumping off rocks into the sparkling water. Every summer we left the city and moved to that magical place and I go back every year to visit. But I have always wanted to be in Europe, and so I moved to A'dam to study.

What’s your current hood in Amsterdam and what’s the best/worst thing about it?

Amsterdam Noord! I love the North. There is a saying "Noord Gestoord" or, Crazy North. However, I've found this to be anything but true. North is a green paradise, with garden cities and flats sprawling along the North Hollands Canal, and funky places like the NDSM Wharf, which is right beside where I live. Unlike other Amsterdammers, we take our bikes and the free public ferries to get to the centre, which is only 10 minutes away! In the summers we swim in the river-canals and spend evenings on the IJ picnicking and relaxing.

What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?

I will listen to just about anything, but my heart is in folk-Americana and just about anything indie. I play the guitar and sing, so I mostly listen to songs that I wish I was good enough to reproduce! I don't really believe in hating anything, but if I had to choose a musical style to hate, I guess it would have to be techno or drum and bass. I don't mind them for a fun night out but after a while I start to miss the vocals and good-feels.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

Don't think twice, it's alright - Joan Baez's rendition, on replay. Nothing else is necessary.

Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?

A few oldies that I loved growing up are Gilligan's Isle and Hogan's Heroes. They used to be aired back-to-back on a throwback TV channel, and my sister and I loved them both for their simplicity and slapstick humour. More recently, I think the three best TV shows I've seen are American Horror Story (I am an enormous fan of Jessica Lang), Stranger Things (nothing like good child-actors carrying a full season story!) and Dear White People, which I think everyone should see for so many reasons.

Name some spots in Amsterdam that are good for a Tinder date.

My boyfriend and I met on Tinder, and on our first date we went met at the Central Station and took a walk around the city. After our walk we stopped at P96 for food and drinks on their boat on the Prinsengracht, and it's the ideal spot to get to know someone better. That, and Cafe Louis are both nice places to chat over low candlelight in a gezellig atmosphere: you can find them both on my map! Also, nothing beats a walk in the Vondelpark or a picnic in the Sarphatipark if you want to impress someone.

Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).

That's a hard one. Obviously the top of my sh*t list is Trump at the moment. People are roasting him a lot, I just wish there would be actual consequences for the atrocious things he says and does.

Who’s your hero and where in Amsterdam would you take them out for a serious hang?

I wouldn't say I have any heroes, but I would 100 percent love to hang out with Lady Gaga. I've been a fan of hers since high school and I'm amazed by her artistic ability and think she has had a real social impact. She has so many styles and modes that I think getting to hang with her would be like meeting a million interesting people in one! I would take her to the North See Jazz Club to listen to some tunes and then over for a glass or two at the Wester Wijnfabriek.

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

Everywhere, all over the world! I am a big fan of anything blue. My favourite store in Amsterdam right now is Six and Sons in the Haarlemerstraat -- they have excellent clothing and a great collection of old and new things to accompany any style or aesthetic.

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

The Damrak/Paleis op de Dam. It is unimaginably full of people without a clue what to do and is maybe one of the least inspiring places in the city as a result.

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

I think this is the same for everyone: boating through the canals! It's such a luxurious and relaxing thing to do - there's nothing like taking a bottle of wine and some snacks out on the water and seeing the city lights and houses snuggled up together by night.

Where do you go in Amsterdam for a casual night out?

Casual nights out are kind of my thing! My favourite places to go are Pllek to see the sunset and listen to some great music, or to sit in front of the EYE Film Museum and watch the boat traffic on the river, picnicking and laughing with friends.

Where would you go in Amsterdam to celebrate some freaking good news?

That depends on the news and my mood! For something classy, I'd go have dinner at BAK. Their tasting menu is fantastic and the location and food are stunning. If I'm in a party mood, I'd head to Pulitzer's Bar for a cocktail or two.

What’s your choice of transportation in Amsterdam and why?

BICYCLE. It is free, fast, and you can go anywhere. Sometimes it can be a little bit crazy, but you get used to that when you do it so often. It's also good to get some oxygen to the brain and get outside as often as possible, regardless of the weather.

What are the Amsterdam spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

Go walk along the Amstel river to the Magere Brug and take in the sites of the city. You can see all the different styles of Amsterdam from there. The Begijnhof and the book stores on the Spui are charming, and I wouldn't miss a trip through the tiny streets of the Jordan to listen to the bells of the Westerkerk.

What are the Amsterdam spots tourists should run from screaming?

The Palace on the Dam, anything around central station, and don't spend all your time in the Red Light District. There's so many places to go in Amsterdam and most people never leave the canal belt: go explore!

Tomorrow’s your last day in Amsterdam. How do you spend it?

Sobbing and miserable. Joking, kind of. I would have brunch in a boat cruising the canals, then spend the rest of the day visiting my favourite restaurants with my favourite people and seeing my favourite views. Everything in the city is pretty magical, and I would just want to soak it all in one last time.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

I love to travel to new places, and I'm always looking for the balance of nature and city. For this reason, I'd say Lisbon. You can have incredible meals and wind your way through the city's twisting, hilly streets. Head north to Sintra for some more historical elegance, or south to hike the rugged coast on the Camino de Santiago from village to village. But I'll go anywhere where there's ocean, forest, or mountains to do something amazing outside.

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