I had always held the dream of taking on Amsterdam, running amok in the legalization capital of the world. It can all get out of hand super quickly as I discovered the joys of a city full of life and laughter. From the moment your feet land on the canal scattered landscape, this heavenly city will quickly superseded every expectation that you ever had.
Most people’s thought of Amsterdam conjures up pictures of women with plaits carrying baskets of tulips clip clopping their way around the dam in their traditional clogs. For me, my head swarmed with thoughts of indulging in the hedonistic pleasures that only a young carefree woman in her 20’s could truly appreciate.
Arriving the night before my companion I took on the task of scoping out the city and getting a feel for the atmosphere starting of course with the infamous coffee shops. My logic is that one must completely integrate oneself in their current environment to ensure that they receive the most realistic point of view about their surroundings. It had begun. There are copious amounts of places in which to buy the green wonder leaf in the city and coffee shops appear almost as often as a prêt sandwich bar on Oxford Street. The prices vary depending on the high you require. From the weaker strains, which will give the toker a sweet little buzz, to the super strength knock your socks off varieties, the prices range from 10 euro to 25 euro an eight. For those who enjoy the feeling of complete and utter numbness, space cakes are readily available, just be sure that you don’t attempt to operate any heavy machinery for a while….
Once the novelty of being able to go into a shop and order a espresso and a joint wears off, which will take a while believe me, you’ll be ready to enjoy the other highlights that this crazy city has to offer. The Heineken Experience on Stadhouderskade 78 is well worth the 10 euro price tag. It has loads of interactive presentations, and the best part…free beer!! We agreed that it should be the first tourist stop we should visit, out of respect for the legendary amber liquid. In we stumbled to learn about the magical process of brewing beer. It really does make you appreciate a nice drop after discovering the processes involved in its creation.
Amsterdam is a city rich in culture and history; from the stunning 16th, 17th and 18th century buildings, to the Van Gogh Museum, to Anne Franks House, if you want history you got it. But for those of us who travel to Amsterdam for the more unconventional experiences it was straight to the infamous Red Light District.
Having heard so much regarding the windows in which the women legally sell their wears I had already sketched a picture in my head as to what I imagined them to be like; I was saddened to discover a much less rosier view. From the young and glamorous to the older more worn models every type imaginable was up for offer. I didn’t get a direct quote but I assume that similar to the coffee shops prices will be depending on what type of party you are after. We turned away from the one or two streets that contain the windows and made our way back into the sunshine of the main streets. The city is built in a massive curve, which makes navigation with no map very difficult, I think maybe this design was intended to make future weed smokers lose their minds by walking around and around in circles. Much like the Marijuana, Amsterdam is also famous for it’s legality of Magic Mushrooms, they are on offer in every small corner store on almost every street in the Red Light District and for a small price you can lose yourself in a haze laughter, and as the saying goes when in Rome do as the Romans do…this is where my memory fails me as to what exactly took place. My advice to the first timer would be, start off small, just dip your toes in, and then if you find that you feel like you’ve just found the secret to eternal life, strip off naked and jump right in to the deep end!
With over 600 000 bicycles and 165 canals Amsterdam makes for one of the most quiet and peaceful cities I have traveled to. The city gives off a surreal feel to it, as so many places now just a mass of cars and noise pollution, whereas all you can hear in Amsterdam is the ringing of bike bells and the dinging of the tram signals. The public transportation is laid out in an easy to understand numbered system, which even the most dyslexic of us figure out, and if worst comes to worst the Dutch are usually more than happy to answer any questions you might have, provided you attempt to say a few words in their native tongue.
I wish that I could have spent more than a few days traipsing around the capital of Holland. What a wonderful place buzzing with life. The city functions so well, it just goes to show that legalization doesn’t necessarily equal the collapse of a nation. I could happily lose myself in Amsterdam for a few years; perhaps open a coffee shop of my own, maybe even a chain, where I could live out my days sipping coffee over looking the canals with a constant grin on my face.