I Amsterdam

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin”–John Green

 

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: if you’re expecting this post to be an hourly log of my psychedelic experience in Amsterdam you’re in for a world of disappointment.  I’m going to write about Amsterdam in 2 parts.  December 26-28 and December 29-31.

As some of you may be aware my current leg of my winter break has taken me to Amsterdam.  My stay here is a bit longer than I had originally anticipated.  I thought I was supposed to arrive Thursday evening and so today (Friday) would have been my first full day in the Dutch Capital.  However when I booked my flight here I got my days mixed up and I ended up arriving 1 ½ days too soon.  So to sum it all up my stay went from the 28-31 to the 26-31.

I’m choosing to write about Amsterdam in 2 parts because I’m only halfway through my stay and I recognize things could change dramatically over the course of the next 2 days.

So far I have been a bit disappointed with Amsterdam.

It’s difficult to issue out such a ruling on a city that many people back home envision as a Mecca of fun and sin.  In many respects it is just those things.  But for me, my stay so far has been one of boredom.

I suppose this was to be expected at some point of the trip since I’m traveling on my own, but I didn’t expect the boredom to strike me in Amsterdam of all places.

I think I’ll explain my opinion of Amsterdam by outlining the pro’s and con’s, though some of the pro’s can also be the con’s and vice versa.  I find the whole thing confusing myself.

Pro’s

DRUGS!

  • If you’re into smoking cannabis or hashish then Amsterdam is surely for you.  I’m staying at a hostel located well within the Red Light district and it is full of the infamous Coffee Shops that double as marijuana dispensaries.
  • Much of Amsterdam’s streets and the entirety of the Red Light District have people smoking freely and legally doing a variety of activities.  I’ve seen a bunch of British kids ride their bikes around town while puffing on their joints.  I’ve seen a waitress smoke a joint while she was on her break.  You get the point

PROSTITUTES!

  • 99% of people that travel through this neighborhood do not patronize the hookers that are prevalent and extremely visible all throughout this area but it is fun to people watch and witness the occasional walks of shame of some of the Johns.  For me this is what really makes this a pro as I really enjoy people watching and all of the prostitutes trying to seduce people passing by is an event that can best be viewed in Amsterdam.  The girls themselves are something of a paradox.  Some of them look like they could be on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition while others look like they should be babysitting their grandchildren.
  • Definitely not for me but I guess for some guys that are on holiday and are extremely drunk, high or both the opportunity is tempting.
  • This actually reminds me of last night a group of British guys (the British seem to sure love their hookers) were waiting for their friend to finish his visit to one of the window workers.  When he walked out his one friend just gave him one grinning look and said “ey mate, you’re a fucking idiot”.

DRINKING!!

  • When drugs are available widely, and when the majority of tourists in this neighborhood are looking for drugs then one might expect that the bars can be a little empty.  Nevertheless, while this is true for about half of the bars, some watering holes around here are very well visited especially when there happens to be a soccer game.

The City itself

  • It may get lost in all of the talk about the drugs and sex, but Amsterdam is actually a really lovely city.
  • The whole city has canals running throughout it very much reminiscent of Venice in Italy.
  • The Red Light district aside, Amsterdam is a pretty clean city and is very pleasant for people who just wish to walk around a take in the scenery and sounds.

Con’s

Hippies

  • Hippies everywhere
  • I doubt Woodstock drew this many hippies into one concentrated area
  • A few of them have been staying in my dorm here at the hostel and they smell just as one would expect a bunch of French hippies to smell like.
  • They sleep between the hours of 4am-12pm then 8-pm-11:30pm

The people

  • A lot of shady people here in Amsterdam
  • Of course it’s not surprising that a city renowned for its drugs and prostitution would attract some serious creeps but it’s still kind of unsettling.
  • It’s been hard meeting people here because most people here are in groups that have been planning their marijuana pilgrimage for a long time and are thus all stuck together getting stoned.
  • There is one kid from Mexico City in my dorm who is also traveling by himself.  I’ve talked with him a little bit but he’s usually in between naps and joints.
  • All of the streets and alleys here are really narrow so it makes it that much more uncomfortable when a drug dealer approaches you and mutters “pssst, cocaine?”

The city

  • The main attraction of this city is the Red Light district
  • Go outside of it however and there are some places to go shopping and a few museums and other historical landmarks (Chelsea insisted on me visiting the Anne Frank house but it’s not going to happen) but aside from that I have found the place kind of boring.
  • I took a canal tour today that was pleasant enough but most of the stops I got off at (it was a hop-on hop-off kind of thing) didn’t offer much.

Prices

  • Still not as bad as London, though I haven’t been to any city as expensive as London, Amsterdam is fully capable of burning a hole through your wallet.
  • Yes I know that living in the heart of Tourist World probably doesn’t help my cause but I’ve tried in other parts of the city and haven’t observed much improvement.

So I guess that will conclude Part I of my adventures in Amsterdam.  Hopefully the next two days will be better and I can then readjust my overall grade of Amsterdam which is currently hovering around a C.

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