The Inhabitants of Noord

As a tourist, it is helpful to know how one should go about interacting with the various cultures in Noord. Dutch bluntness comes from a desire to be honest and helpful, so you're best off listening to what they have to say, and regarding most comments with a little bit of humor.


Geraldina Brandenburg - Geraldina Brandenburg the owner of Cafe Oud Noord together with some of her guests during the WC final in 2010 before they knew the result of the game. Willem Velthoven

This bluntness has evolved alongside a Calvinist moral attitude which tends to judge the atypical as, “act normal, that’s weird enough”. Dutch intolerance at its worst normally just manifests itself as a belief that one is attention-seeking.
Another Dutch cliché is the anti-capitalist cultural types who have played an instrumental role in transforming the NDSM wharf into a massive artistic incubator, and are now the squatters and artists living in some degree of opposition to the rest of their Noord community. Interactions with them are casual and judgement-free, although it’s best not to flaunt the fact that you’re a carnivore or a banker.

In contrast to these inhabitants are the mostly Moroccan, Surinamese, and Turkish immigrants who make up much of the inhabitants of the Noord. Welcomed with characteristic Dutch tolerance before the turn of the century, the place of immigrants has changed since two high profile murders and the consequential tightening of immigration policies. Now migration into the Netherlands comes with an agreement to properly assimilate, yet Noord is still rife with migrant cultural signifiers of all kinds; namely in the areas of food and drink.

Amsterdam Noord's residences are sure to give you an authentic cultural experience, but for food it is best to explore beyond the culinary reaches of the bread-and-cheese Dutch. For this, the Turkish communities of Amsterdam Noord are surely the most reliable producers of a quality Doner Kebab which will get you through your travels.

But what unites these seemingly disparate communities? In Noord, it is the untranslatable, abstract noun 'gezelligheid' which, depending on its context, can mean cozy, belonging, comfortable togetherness, or time spent with loved ones. This word, which appears regularly in Dutch conversation, is emblematic of Noord - so use it, but sparsely.