In the beginning, Amsterdam felt like Disneyland. I was ecstatic. I wanted to touch, to feel, to absorb every corner. It was a magical world to me. In 2008, when I was 24, I came to Amsterdam for the first time. It was summer and I came here for a weekend. I had met a Dutch girl when on holiday in Mexico. She lived in Amsterdam and when I came to visit her, I fell madly in love with the city. It was summer, the weather was great - it was sunny - and I had the girl of my dreams on my arm. The atmosphere in Amsterdam is very different from say, Paris. People are much friendlier here. They actually talk to you. They're interested in you. They ask you what you do, even if you're a complete stranger. This just doesn’t happen in Paris. The girl of my dreams is now my wife. After that first weekend with her in Amsterdam I went back to France, gathered all my stuff, and a week later I was back in Amsterdam. Even though I had spent the grand total of five days with my girlfriend, I moved in with her straight away.
She lived at the Nieuwmarkt, which certainly contributed to my love of the city. I was so lucky to be able to live there, in such a lively area with loads of bars, different cultures, locals and tourists.
In France, I used to live in a small village near Paris. The local motto is ‘you live here, you die here’. When I told my mom I was planning to move to Amsterdam to be with a girl I had met in Mexico, who I really, really liked, she said,''Bullshit. You'll be back in three weeks. You're just blinded by love.'' She couldn't believe her ears.
My relationship with Amsterdam is exactly the same as with a living person. In the beginning I was indeed ‘blinded by love’. As I rode my bike through the streets I wanted to get to know every millimetre Amsterdam had to offer. And Amsterdam loves me. Every minute of every day, I enjoy being here.
Now, 4 years later, my relationship with the city has grown even more. I have found my way. In the beginning, I was literally lost. Every street looked the same; I even had a hard time finding the street I lived in. I couldn't ask anybody the way either, because if I did they would go through all the street names in Dutch and I couldn’t understand a word. I wasn’t any good at navigating, and it took me years to memorise a few street plans.
Now, I've grown more used to the city. I know the people, their habits, the way they live, the way they are. It really has become my city. It feels like it’s mine. And I'm still very much in love! Every now and then, I cheat and travel to another city, but I always come back. Amsterdam is always there, and always welcomes me with open arms. And I fall in love with her each and every time.
Amsterdam is very tolerant: homosexuals, different nationalities. That's what makes Amsterdam special, and that's what has made me the man I am today. It makes me feel kind of embarrassed when my friends come up with less accepting views on, for example, homosexuality. It annoys me sometimes, but because I grew up with them, they'll always be my friends.”