Last weekend, Spotters from 35 countries joined us in Amsterdam, to celebrate almost 5 years of Spotted by Locals. We are slowly coming back to earth after this truly epic event for us. Many Spotters seem to feel the same, judging by the comments on the Facebook event page and Spotters’ blogs:
“One of the best weekends of my life”
“I went to Amsterdam and didn’t smoke any weed, but I’ll be high for days on the amazing vibes you all brought to Amsterdam. It sounded less cheesy in my head but in the end I decided to post it anyway :-)”
“[…] it was an amazing event and I feel honoured to be part of the Spotted by Locals community. I can’t wait for the next meeting and until then: you’ll always have a place in the North! See you all again soon!”
“I am exited to be a part of such passionate, fun and absolutely nice people. Thanks to Bart and Sanne for making this mad idea of everyone meeting each other come true :) “
“Haven’t been far this wknd (Rotterdam, red) but it feels like a jetlag.. phew.”
“[…] I’m sure I am not the only one who will be living off the memories of this weekend for quite a long time. Just landed back home, tired, but still too excited to sleep…”
“We are no longer just a virtual network, we did actually smile to each other :) Do get in touch if or not in Berlin. Big hug in the meanwhile :)”
“[…] two days during which an atmosphere of good will was tangible constantly and everyone was smiling, content to meet one incredible human being after another (and the occasional glass of Grolsch). I didn’t feel so buzzed and energised for quite a long while, and have the rare conviction that I was part of something good. Sounds cheesy, but is the only way I could come up with to describe it.” (read Marcel’s full blog post on his blog)
For us it is impossible to impress in words how fantastic the weekend has been better than our Spotters have. We’ll try with pictures though, many taken by our photographers of the day Maarten van Poll (Bart’s dad) and Wouter Bakker (Sanne’s brother), but also by ourselves and many of our Spotters.
We’ll take you through the event chronologically:
October – preparations
Sanne, Bart and Laura have been preparing the Spotters weekend for weeks: making complicated schedules of activities, lists of room-mates that we think would go together (and having to start all over again many times after new applications or cancellations…). And shopping!
Thursday night – A drink with early arrivals
The offical program started on Friday night, but some of the Spotters had arrived early in Amsterdam. We had a drink with Kruno and Milana from Zagreb (our first Spotted by Locals couple!), Fred from Paris, Maja from Belgrade, Alex from Bucharest and ourselves (Sanne & Bart), and together declared the weekend a success already!
Friday afternoon – Check in on the boats
Sanne, Bart and Laura had taken it upon themselves to bring every Spotter to their accommodation – 4 beautiful old Dutch sailing boats docked at the Houthavens in Amsterdam – personally during the agreed “check in time” (17:00 to 21:00). Because of the bad weather, time went by slowly! We couldn’t wait to join the party!
Friday night – Drinks on the “party boat”
Because of the many participants of the Spotters weekend, we had spread the drinks over 2 of the 4 boats and organized 2 separate “parties”. But it became evident quickly everybody wanted to talk to each other so we took drinks and snacks to the busiest boat – de “Vliegende Hollander” which rapidly exploded with chatting Spotters. We haven’t seen one unhappy face.
We had asked all Spotters to bring a snack from their own country. It was a beautiful sight to see so many snacks from different countries spread all over the table. Many of the Spotters had invested a lot of time into making their own snacks.
Bottles of Dutch Genever, Portuguese Port and Polish Vodka taken by Spotters as a “snack” (?!) were shared between the “hungry” Spotters too… The party went on for a long time…. And yes, below pictures are censored ;) (Spotters, for the uncensored version check our private Spotters network soon!)
Saturday morning – Breakfast
The start of a long day. Fresh and unfresh people gathered for a typical, and consequently very simple, Dutch breakfast: bread with peanut butter, apple syrup, chocolate sprinkles, humus, cheese, coffeee & tea.
Saturday morning – Group picture
We all gathered for a group picture (this is the big zoomable version), which was led very smoothly by our main photographer Maarten.
Saturday morning – A walk through Amsterdam
Spotters were divided into groups and maps and a booklet with quirky and historical facts written by laura were handed out by Sanne, for a two and a half hour “Amsterdam like a local walk” to our afternoon location. Most groups used the Spotted by Locals iPhone or Android app, to rest at one or two coffee spots (and for some groups we suspect – bars…) on the way.
Saturday afternoon – Lunch
The groups that arrived in time did not get wet much, but the ones that did not were punished by awful rain showers before arring at Amsterdam’s famous Jazz Club De Badcuyp – our location for the rest of the afternoon.
Everybody was treated to a well-deserved hearty and tasty Dutch pea soup and bread by the lovely volunteers of De Badcuyp.
Saturday afternoon – Welcome word by Bart
A short summary of Bart’s talk:
- How fortunate we are to have been able to create their dream job: traveling around and meeting people all around the world;
- How reading about Spotters from 44 cities’ favorite spots and meeting them has changed Sanne and Bart’s perspective on other cultures, and basically changed our lives. We are very grateful for that;
- An estimate of how many people’s life Spotters have changed by experiencing their city like a local. The world can be grateful too…
- Some projects for 2013: top secret of course and only shared with Spotters (cut out in the video that will be published of the presentation soon)
Saturday afternoon – Dutch games
An afternoon of Dutch games, introduced on video by two “World champions Dutch games” (Sanne & Bart “incognito”)
All of the members of the winning group in the finals (“beschuitfluiten”) won a cool pair of Audiosonic bluetooth speakers by our sponsors Tristar!
Saturday evening – Tram
We rented a tram renovated and operated by volunteers from the Tram museum Amsterdam, to get to our dinner location.
Saturday evening – Ethiopian dinner
The choice to have an Ethiopian / Eritrean dinner was a good one. Many had no experience with this kind of food, and found it a lot of fun to eat with their hands. The lovely staff from restaurant Semhar did a great job.
We were lucky to have 3 performances during the night:
Sanne had almost lost her voice by the end of the night from all the talking and laughing, but it was still good enough to thank everybody and guide them to the trams (not antique ones this time) and lead the walk back to the boats.
The party (this time, on boat “Allure”) went on until 6:00 in the morning…
Sunday morning – Flea market
After another Dutch breakfast, the weekend was officially finished. It took a long time for everybody to realize this, and to say goodbye to everybody. When somebody wanted to take a family picture of Sanne & Bart, and everybody ran to be included in the picture “as we’re all part of the family”…
With those who didn’t have to catch a train or plane, we visited Pllek for coffee and the IJhallen – a flea market that is organized every month.
Once again, we want to thank all Spotters for taking the time, and investing in a ticket to Amsterdam to join us. It wasn’t easy for everybody… Quite a few Spotters have traveled for a full day or more to get to Amsterdam (e.g. Bucharest – Munich – Brussels – Amsterdam, St. Petersburg – Düsseldorf, hitchhiking from far, etc.). Others have saved money for a long time to be able to afford a ticket. One of our Spotters has even forfeited a graduation present from her parents, and asked them to pay a ticket to Amsterdam for her instead. This weekend has made us realize once again how cool our company is!
To all the Spotters who could not be there: we have been thinking of you, and hope you will be able to be there next time!