I Love Amsterdam. After two unforgettable days here, Amsterdam comes in at a very close second in rankings for my favorite city in Europe (behind Munich for obvious reasons).
The city has an amazing atmosphere that’s different than almost all the big cities of Europe. It has a large diverse population who seem to universally embrace a laid back attitude that seems to me to be a big part of Dutch culture. On a given sunny evening, the streets and canals would be lined up with residents lounging around on park benches, restaurant tables, and home patios, chatting with friends and strangers as they enjoy the day together. Some people eat and drink, some smoke, and others simply read their newspapers. But everyone seems to genuinely enjoy each other’s companies and, most importantly, they seem to truly enjoy living life. That is probably my biggest takeaway from my time in the Netherlands, and something I’ll never forget about Amsterdam.
And let’s not forget that the city itself is very beautiful. Built in a U-Shape formation facing the sea, the city streets are lined with tall, narrow buildings (mainly 3 stories high and 3 windows wide). I didn’t notice it at first, but the tour guide pointed out that all the buildings slant forward as a counterweight for the pulleys installed above every house. Over years of sinking in the swamp, many structures no longer stand straight but are also leaning to the side.
Walking through Amsterdam during the summer day, you immediately notice the lines of trees, adding a beautiful shade of green to balance the clear blue skies and the murky waters of the stone canals. And at night, the picturesque images of the city transform into dark, impressionistic paintings of glowing yellow street lamps casting sparkling rays into the dark rumbles of the flowing water. When it gets late and the streets clear out, you can really lose yourself standing above a bridge, overlooking the scenes that inspired artists like Van Gogh a century ago.
Our time in Amsterdam really flew by in a flurry of activity. Much of the time was spent walking from place to place, in search of something.
Day 1 Highlights:
~Really nice weather
~Met new friends:
2 girls from Toronto
Group of 4 Asians from California
2 dudes from Florida
~Jogging at night, DTPing
~Stayed at Shelter City, a Christian Hostel in the midst of the Red Light District. Literally next door to some window displays …
Day 2 Highlights:
~Bipolar weather with bits of thunderstorms during a hot, sunny and humid day (only time that I’ve ever gotten sunburned during a day filled with thunderstorms)
~Signature Dutch pastries – chocolate and vanilla cakes
~Best meal of the trip so far: Unlimited Spare Ribs at an Argentinian steak house for $13.50 euros. We ate the crap out of this place …
~Stayed at The Flying Pig (uptown), a nicer hostel with AC … I love air conditioning…
I think overall, Amsterdam isn’t just about being a city of tolerance and contrasts in diversity. It’s a city about having/doing what you want, when you want it.