french toast at libertine comptoir de cuisine amsterdam

A few weeks ago we got an interview request by the enthusiastic Wyndham Juneau to interview FROM HERE owner Femmie. Obviously, we couldn’t refuse this opportunity to talk about the company, beautiful tours and what we stand for. As this interview was a part of Wyndham’s study abroad semester, there was a chance that this wouldn’t be published. So we decided to publish the interview ourselves, since we like the result so much. Thank you Wyndham for your time and the possibility to share our story!

 

THE INTERVIEW

It is a very untypical Dutch winter weather day – untypical in the sense that the sun is out for the first time in weeks, and even though it is only 3 C – everyone is out walking around, bicycling, and enjoying the sunlight. Femmie Mulder – the owner and operator of From Here – asked me to meet her at a relatively new lunch spot in the Centrum of Amsterdam called Libertine Comptoir de Cuisine. I show up at the moment her and Deirdre (the friend who introduced us) are finishing the last bites of some delicious looking French toast. They offer me the last bite and it literally melts in my mouth. When I ask her how she found this place she tells me she reads a weekly newspaper called Amsterdam City Guide. The restaurant is relatively new and was listed in an article titled “10 things you should do in Amsterdam.” Of course – this list changes weekly – but Femmie says “It’s important to know what’s happening and where to go.”

WJ: “So have you been here before?”

FM: “No, actually. I have a rule where I only eat lunch once at a place.”

“What is the reason behind that?”

“Well, lunch is usually cheaper, plus you can try a lot of different places and then you have more of a variety of places to suggest.”

I ask Femmie a few more questions about food in Amsterdam and quickly realize that I could do an entire interview about food without ever getting to questions about her tour company. I figure it’s time to switch gears.

Femmie got the idea for From Here just last year. During her honeymoon and travels in Vietnam and Spain, she says she had a lot of time to reflect and touch base. She enjoyed the culture and the people, and really seeing how they live; her and her husband spent time in smaller villages and eating with families. They listened to music, rode on motorcycles, and spent time away from the main tourist areas.She said she would like to give tourists in Amsterdam the same experience.

“What inspired you to start your own tour company?”

“I saw that there was room for improvement. I saw opportunity in showing tourists the real contemporary Amsterdam and getting to know the city from a different perspective.”

“What’s different about From Here? What makes your tours unique?”

“They are personal, private, and tailor-made. With a regular Amsterdam city tour you tend to get only the highlights, but with me, you get to experience the real Amsterdam.”

The brochure she has advertises “off the beaten path” tours one of which is the signature tour through Amsterdam-Noord.
To get to Noord from the city center you have to take the ferry across the Ij river- it only takes a few minutes and it’s free – plus the view is lovely.
Femmie has lived in Amsterdam-Noord for the last six years and says that to her it feels like more of the ‘true Amsterdam’.

“It used to be that the Jordaan area was the ‘true Amsterdam’ …but I feel like that has shifted and now the true Amsterdam exists in Noord.”

“What makes Noord more true or unique?”

“It’s sincere. It’s real. There is no filter; people can be themselves. There’s also lot of local initiative: there are many cafes and weird combinations you won’t find in the center.”

Femmie refers to the area as the volkswijk – which translates roughly to “working-class district” She says “It’s a neighbourhood with all kinds of cultures, people and layers of society.”

“If you had to describe it in one word?”

“Energetic.”

Femmie tells me about the street art, the coffee shops and boutiques, and even art galleries that aren’t frequented by tourists, but that she likes to make sure tourists get to see. “You’d be surprised by the treasure you can find.”

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Wyndham Juneau came to the Netherlands for a study abroad semester but then decided to stay.
She is available for freelance writing and blogging pieces. Contact her at wyndham.juneau@gmail.com or LinkedIn.

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