Living in Schinkelbuurt

We are coming up on two years in Amsterdam, which means almost one year at our new house, in our new neighbourhood. Are we still happy with our choice to pick a little house in the city rather than a bigger one with a garden farther out? It’s still a resounding yes! The longer we live here, the more we love it.

Schinkelbuurt is a delightful little neighborhood of Amsterdam that is also somewhat unknown. Possibly because it’s so little. It’s just that red-highlighted triangle with a tail in the bottom left corner.

As a bonus, that screenshot also shows the location of several of the schools we visited, the yoga studio I attend, and several other landmarks I must have Googled at some time or other.

If you zoom out in Google maps, you can see where Schinkelbuurt is (the red marker) in relation to greater Amsterdam. The orange road that forms a ring around the city is called the A10, but also just the Ring. Living within the Ring is kind of a big deal in Amsterdam; it’s basically the difference between living in the city and living in the suburbs. Not that one is necessarily better than the other, except if like me you have an only half-rational aversion to ever setting foot in suburbia again. I love being able to cycle everywhere, having that typical brick Amsterdam look, and having my pick of wonderful cafés.

We really wanted a place inside the Ring for the reasons stated above (after all, we moved across an ocean to live in Amsterdam, so we want to properly live in Amsterdam), as well as the fact that the kids’ school is around the corner from the Rijksmuseum. Their school will be moving in about a year and a half, to Nieuwe West (you can see the area on the map, just to the left of the Ring). So somewhere in between would be perfect. And that’s exactly what we found. As a bonus, we are also close to quite a few nice high schools, giving Axa a good array of choices.

Schinkelbuurt is a little buurt (neighborhood) bordered by the Schinkel Canal (it’s a canalised river, actually–a small natural waterway that’s been tamed and straightened so as to do the work of a canal). This photo is taken from the other side of the Schinkel, looking in to our neighborhood.

The other part of the triangle is a major street, Amstelveenseweg. Just to the northeast is Vondelpark, which is sort of the miniature Amsterdam equivalent of Central Park. Around the corner is Harlemmermeerstation, the bus/tram station where you will arrive from the airport if you come visit us. We have unusually good access to public transportation here, and you can catch a bus or tram to pretty much anywhere in Amsterdam from near our house.

When we moved in last year, there were already three grocery stores within a three-block radius, and a new one just opened last month around the corner from our house. That’s not counting a few other stores that are more like produce stands. At our old house, we had to cycle ten minutes to get to the grocery store, so we feel quite spoiled now. And every conceivable type of shop and service can be found in the general vicinity, from hair stylists (at least three or four on our block) to electronics and hardware stores, to Tony’s favourite Thai massage therapist. There are a couple of different pharmacies and a Hema (sort of a mini Dutch version of Target), and our bank even has a branch around the corner.

I haven’t counted the number of restaurants, bars, cafés, and other eating establishments, but it must be in the dozens. There’s one of the little Turkish eateries that is Amsterdam’s answer to the hole-in-the-wall taco shops in California, which we frequent on a regular basis for their shoarma. For night-time dining, there are at least four or five Italian restaurants, as well as a couple of Thai places, Surinamese, Spanish tapas, sushi, Greek, a burger joint, and several others. Oh, and a tasty gelato shop around the corner, which we visited almost daily during the summer months. We’d still be going on a regular basis; however, it is unfortunately closed for the winter at the moment.

But what I love best are the cafés. Tony and I like to go to breakfast together on weekend mornings. It’s our way of reconnecting after a busy week. We’ve ridden our bicycles all over Amsterdam to try well-recommended cafés, but these days we love just walking around the corner or down the street to one of our very own neighborhood cafés.

There’s Dignita, a hip little brunch place with a social conscience that gives victims of human trafficking the chance to start a new life and learn a new trade making delicious, sophisticated food like these zucchini fritters.

Another standby is Ann&Max. We do occasionally take the children with us, and this was a family brunch date where both kids tried Tony’s favourite “sweet breakfast”, with scones, croissants, jam, clotted cream, and chocolate spread alongside a cute little jar of yoghurt and granola.

When we’re in the mood for bagels (which to be honest, for me is not so often) we head over to Bagels & Beans, an Amsterdam chain with bright, cheerful locations all over town. Ours is right on the Schinkel, so it’s perfect on a warm summer day to sit in the sun and read Nietzsche over tea (yes, Tony brought along Thus Spake Zarathustra one day, and it was one of my favourite dates ever).

But the café where we are most likely to be found these days is a newcomer that appeared just before Christmas last year: Slowth. It’s only a few doors down from our house, and it’s become a sort of second living room. The owner of Slowth is originally from Taiwan, and she makes these fascinating Taiwanese-inspired dishes that are like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Also, some amazing drinks. This is Tony’s favourite black sugar latte, along with my matcha latte. Since this photo was taken, I’ve discovered that if I ask them, they’ll also put the flamed black sugar on top of my matcha. Bliss.

The decor at Slowth is quirky, clever, and very inviting. And yes, as at nearly every café in Amsterdam, dogs are not only allowed, but welcome.

We love our neighborhood and think it is the best (although everyone I know in Amsterdam loves their neighborhood and thinks it is the best). It was a weird feeling to settle down and buy a house, but now that we have, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Speaking of which, we are currently doing some fairly minor (but extremely disruptive) renovations: the last bits of painting and all the other little things to finally finish what we started almost a year ago. Tony and I will be in London until Sunday, so hopefully when we get home it will be done, and I can do that room-by-room tour I keep talking about. Stay tuned!

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