We got ourselves off the ferry, walked passed a graffiti-bombed community center, a community-garden and a house with an outdoor mini-library where you can grab a book on your way to… As we buzzed the doorbell, climbed a typical steep and small Amsterdam staircase, we were greeted with a big smile by locals Evelyn and Kay.
Thanks for having us! So tell me, who are Evelyn and Kay?
Kay (32): I’m a born and bred Berliner who lives in Amsterdam for three years now. I work in retail and I run my own blog called ‘Write the Streets’. It’s about people showing one of their most beloved shoes and sharing the story behind it. Evelyn (30): I’m also from Germany. I’ve been living in the Netherlands for eight years now. I work a lot with online platforms, writing blogs and working in sales and we both love cats!
You’re both originally from Germany. How did you end up in 'Vogelbuurt'?
Kay: I basically came here for Evelyn. Evelyn: I moved to the Netherlands for college. I wanted to live in Amsterdam but couldn’t afford the rent here. When Kay and I decided to move in together there was no doubt in my mind we would be living in Amsterdam. With the two of us, we would be able to carry the costs. We didn’t necessarily choose to live in this neighbourhood but we fell in love with the apartment. We live on the third floor, there's always light in our home and there are no buildings blocking our house so we have the greatest view.
Can you explain to us what the spirit of Vogelbuurt is like?
It's like a village! I (Evelyn) am from a small town in Germany where everybody knows everyone, Vogelbuurt gives me that same feeling. The first day we moved into the apartment, our new neighbours rushed over to help us out. One neighbour who we call ‘opa’ (grandpa in Dutch) is always sitting on the corner of the street in his wheelchair making small talks and being the neighbourhood watch-dog. People grab a chair and sit next to him. He always kept an eye on our car and reported any suspicions of car thieves.
Just out of curiosity, I noticed you refer to the ‘Vogelbuurt’ as ‘Kattenbuurt’ (Cat-neighbourhood) on your Instagram profile. Explain?
(Laughing) Well, there are a lot of cats around here; Running around, sitting on cars, chilling in the sun. Many shop owners here have cats and opa has a cat too. And we have cats of course. We love them!
Were you aware that North-Amsterdam used to be considered a no-go area in Amsterdam?
When we moved here we got a lot of reaction like oh my God you’re moving to ‘Noord’?! There are a lot of people that only want to live in certain areas but we didn’t care as long as we could make the best out of it. We started exploring the area after we moved in here and it’s not the bad neighbourhood people think it is. Besides, we live close to the ferry, we can be at Central Station in 5 minutes. We live closer to the center than most of our friends do.
Speaking about the ferry, what is like to take the ferry everyday?
Kay: It gives you a holiday feeling. And because of the ferry you get to chat with the people from this hood. You come across the same people everyday. Evelyn: People are often like, oh so you HAVE to take the ferry everyday? And I’m like no I CAN take the ferry everyday. I’m a lucky girl!
Why should people visit this side of town?
To take the preconceptions people have of ‘Noord’ away. To see it’s not the bad neighborhood they think it is. We have a nice community-garden, you can grab a beer and sit at the water. It’s quiet and peaceful at Vogelbuurt. If you head towards the Eye and NDSM there are a lot of hip things going on and those are the trendy parts of Noord but here it’s still good ol' Noord Noord. An untouched area. There are a lot of nice small independent shops, like the Turkish bakery, Polish supermarket, ‘Give away store’. You can tell that this part of town has a history of not-so-rich people. And there are a broad variety of people, from different social classes. And parking is free, that's pretty rare in Amsterdam.
Favourite thing of living in Vogelbuurt?
Evelyn: It’s the sunny side of the IJ river, we can see the most beautiful sunset. In the summertime when we look out of the window we see this huge thing moving, that is the cruise ship passing by. Kay used to say that every city with rivers, has this relaxed vacation feeling atmosphere because of the cruise ships. It’s really amazing Kay: I like that this is the quiet part of town. I used to work in the centre and that could be really busy and packed and when I take the ferry to cross over I could leave the stress behind me. When I step off the ferry it’s gone.
Lastly, where can people get a good coffee around here?
Evelyn: At our place (laughing) Kay: There’s a little bistro on IJ-plein ‘Al Ponte’ which is rated by Tripadvisor as one of the best coffee places in Amsterdam. But I’m not an espresso type of guy so I can't say. But other than that we don’t really have roasters here. Evelyn: If a roaster would open here I think it would be sign of Vogelbuurt becoming a hip area.
Thanks for taking us through Vogelbuurt Evelyn and Kay!
Also a big applause to on a hazy morning for their great visual contribution to this first Town Talk series.
- Mio -