It's like taking a stroll with your own Amsterdam dad: Tom knows the city like the back of his hand

Alsof je een ommetje maakt met je eigen Amsterdamse pa: Tom kent de stad als z’n broekzak

"Look up!" is what Tom (59) used to hear from his father who worked as a city guide in Amsterdam and who got to know the city inside and out. Tom now passes on this knowledge about the city during the walks he takes with his daughters Willemijn (30) and Josephine (26). They in turn decided to pass on the pure Amsterdam facts via the Instagram account @ommetjemettom. There they share what they learn from their father about the pearls of Amsterdam that you only see if you really look out of your shell.

From old pub stories to places and events that have shaped Amsterdam culture - Tom knows the city like the back of his hand. Through Ommetje met Tom he shows you the city through the eyes of your Amsterdam dad, just like Willemijn and Josephine do every week, and Tom used to do that himself with his father. “Every corner of the street has a story from the past, and a story from today,” tell Willemijn and Josephine. “It's really nice to know so well what Dad's life was like before we were here. It's a party every time we meet. With or without wine, but always with Dad's jokes - even if we've heard them a hundred times.”

As a little boy, Tom already went exploring the city. He then wrote down all the street names he wanted to know more about and discussed at home all the facts and events that his father could tell about those places in scents and colors. He always urged Tom to keep looking upwards to discover the best of the city. “The only time our grandfather told dad to look down was when they walked past Frederiksplein, where the Volksvlijt palace used to be,” says Willemijn. “At that time you could still see the grooves in the asphalt of the enormous steel framework that remained after the palace burned down in 1929.”

Josephine's favorite story of Tom takes place in café 't Doktertje on the Rozenboomsteeg, about which Tom always jokes because of the cobwebs in the café that the cleaning lady was already fired in 1961. Mr. Beems (the father-in-law of the current owner) spoke there as a ras- Amsterdammer always nice and smart to his customers. “For example, an older woman once walked into 't Doktertje with a younger guy in his thirties,” says Josephine. “Mr. Beems says: “Good evening, ma'am, a chardonnay for you? And for you, my little boy? Do you want a nice chocolate milk?"

Tom says he no longer encounters many real Amsterdammers such as Mr. Beems. “The migration to the city brings with it an enormous diversity of people,” explains Tom. "On the one hand, that's not bad, because it makes Amsterdam a small-town world city, but on the other hand, I don't come across many real Amsterdammers anymore."

When we ask Tom about his tip for young Amsterdammers, he passes on the advice of his own father. "Look up! Look at the details of the city. Every favorite spot has been someone else's favorite spot at some point. You can't realize how many footsteps have been made before you and how many will follow after you. We are only here for a short time, but the city continues to live, even though we are transient.”

For walks and more great stories, visit @ommetjemettom on Instagram.