500 Days in Amsterdam Without a Bike: A Journey of Mind, Body, and City

9M+ steps in, and counting.

It started because I was fed up with all the electric Van Moofs in the city. The biking lanes have transformed because of those. And not in a good way. A once cool brand, I owned the very first model in 2010, turned into a hip electric brand riden by fast yuppies in a city where you totally don't need an electric bike. Everything is so compact. You can literally get everywhere within a 15 minute ride on leg powered pedals.

I loved biking in the city and would still encourage everyone moving to Amsterdam to buy a bike and get to know the city. I wrote about why Amsterdam is such a livable city in the past and that is mainly because of the biking infrastructure.

But here goes:

In the heart of Amsterdam, amidst a sea of cyclists and the symphony of bike bells, I embarked on an unconventional quest: forgoing my bicycle. This decision wasn't a critique of the city's cycling culture perse (maybe a bit towards the e-bike craze) but a personal exploration into a slower, more mindful way of living in this compact, vibrant city.

The Compact City Advantage

Amsterdam's charm is not just in its postcard-worthy canals and historic buildings but also in its manageability. The city's size is perfect for walking. This realization dawned on me as electric bikes whizzed by and tourists swarmed the streets, making cycling less enjoyable. Walking became my sanctuary, a way to reclaim the joy of moving through the city at my own pace.

The Family Dynamic

The practicalities of my daily life played a significant role in this lifestyle shift. While Amélie and Mika have grown independent, biking to school on their own, Eli and Mia's school is a stone's throw from our houseboat, about 100 meters away. This proximity has been a blessing, allowing me to easily integrate walking into our daily routine without compromising on family time or responsibilities. 

So after I bring Mia to school I can just walk to where my work needs me.

Physical Well-being

Walking, in its simplicity, has profound physical benefits. It’s a testament to the power of gentle, consistent movement. My daily strolls through Amsterdam have become a form of exercise that feels less like a chore and more like a leisurely exploration. My step count has soared, last month to above 20k steps on average per month, but so has my appreciation for the city’s beauty, proving that good health doesn't always require a strenuous workout regimen.

A Sanctuary for Mental Health

The mental clarity and creative inspiration derived from my walks cannot be overstated. Each step through Amsterdam's streets has been a step away from stress and toward tranquility. This walking meditation has provided a space for uninterrupted thought, allowing me to solve problems more creatively, listening to inspiring podcasts and coming up with new ideas and learning new skills and reach out to loved ones with a clearer mind. It's as if the rhythm of my footsteps has become the beat to which my thoughts organize and flourish. 

Together

Conversations flow really well while walking. You can speak more freely sometimes if you don't have to look eachother in the eye all the time. Even before I said goodbye to the bike I started having walking meetings with people. During Covid this was the new normal, but for me this started earlier. Sitting was the new smoking, remember.

The nice thing is that you can also decide to cut a meeting short by just casualy directing the person back to where you started ;)

Embracing Slow Living in a Fast-Paced World

This journey has been about more than just physical health; it’s been a holistic embrace of slow living. By stepping out of the cycling lanes, I've stepped into a world rich with details—the play of light on water, the architectural quirks hiding in plain sight, and the spontaneous interactions that enrich daily life. Photography, a cherished hobby, has found new vitality as I capture these moments that would have otherwise sped past unseen.

Conclusion: The Path Less Pedaled

500 days on, walking in Amsterdam has offered me not just a healthier lifestyle but a richer, more connected way of experiencing the world. It's a reminder that in the rush to get from point A to point B, there’s a whole alphabet of life to be explored at a slower pace. This experience has been a privilege, one that’s reshaped not only how I move through the city but how I move through life itself.

As I continue my journey on foot, I invite you to consider how slowing down might reveal new dimensions in your life, whether it's through walking, mindful pauses, or simply choosing to engage with your surroundings in a more deliberate way. After all, the best journey is the one where we're fully present, step by step.

If you want to join me for a walk: book me 

Below some random scenes I stumbled upon.

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