This Place I Love

Trip Start Feb 03, 2010
Trip End Jul 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Old Quarter

Flag of Netherlands  , North Holland,
Thursday, June 10, 2010

Amsterdam was a breath of fresh, albeit chilly, air.  The energy in Amsterdam is different than any other city - it is young and energetic and happy. As uptight as France can feel, Amsterdam is loose.  Not only are the sex and drug laws liberal, there is a liberal feel to the street.  I love Amsterdam.

My Hotel ended up being on one of the main streets in the Red Light district.  This made it really easy to get anywhere by foot but also made it very loud.  The District is home to all of the 'Coffee Shops" - where you can still order marijuana, hash and magic mushrooms off the menu to use there or take away for later.  Bizarre as it is, these shops do not sell alcoholic drinks and it is against the law to smoke tobacco there - only weed.  If you don't want to smoke you can buy hash brownies or space cake.  Outside the sex workers ply their trade 24 hours of the day and night from their historical glass booths - 550 booths - not all occupied on every shift.  Between the gawkers and shoppers for the prostitutes and the stoners frequenting the coffee shops and the patrons leaving the live sex shows and this week, the Dutch World Cup fans,, the street was crazy and very loud.  I was fortunate to get a room on the front of the hotel - uh huh...under the 'H' of the sign and just above the English Pub below.  Thank god for ear plugs.

My first night I decided to pop out for a bottle of water - forgetting I was now in Europe and could drink from the tap -  I met up with a British business guy - Mark - we explored the Red Light District together, rated the hookers, had dinner and a really nice time.  Great start to Amsterdam.  The second night I found a fun comedy club and took in an excellent improv troop from Chicago.- Third day I found a non profit group that runs antique boats on the canals - members of this boat club take you out in their old boats for donations.  My guy was a Swedish artist piloting a lovely old boat - small enough to cruise the smallest canals.  He showed our little group cool houseboats and barges and explained about life living on the water.

The weather was so horrible for all 4 days that I bought a tram pass and took advantage of that to really see a lot of the City and the neighboring suburbs.  I just sat inside the warm tram and watched as neighborhoods and architecture morphed back and forth between the ancient - 1400's to the modern..  Amsterdam suburbs and surrounding towns have some really great modern architecture - very edgy. 

The Dutch people talk -  alot.  And laugh - alot.  I like them - alot.

I think Amsterdam has to be one of the most live-able cities in Europe. It has many of the things I love: Walkable or easy to hop a tram anywhere, beautiful architecture, fantastic arts scene, lovely men, cheap cheese, liberal attitudes, wicked bakeries and most of all, chip stands with the best fries loaded with gobs of mayo....just too damn bad about their weather.

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Faye on

We had bad weather when we were in Amsterdam at the beginning of April...perhaps it hasn't really let up since then? Glad to hear you enjoyed your time and I think that you are now back in Calgary? Safe travels back to Canada if you are en route

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