While visiting in London this past March, we decided to take a weekend trip across the English Channel to Amsterdam, Holland, also known as The Netherlands. Amsterdam is a lovely city offering good food, art, architecture, a lively night scene, coffeeshops, shopping, and a very friendly atmosphere.
It is an easy hop from London Heathrow to Amsterdam Schipol. The entire flight time was about 1 hour and 15 minutes. We arrived and bought tickets for the train to Centraal Station, the heart of Amsterdam. The city is small enough to walk most anywhere you want after disembarking the train that brings you from the airport.
Amsterdam has an energetic and youthful vibe. People are generally friendly. German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, English and many other languages are heard as we walk the streets. The shops are busy, restaurants are full and there seems to be little sign of economic troubles. The Dutch have historically been fiscally conservative and operate a sound business system. Juxtaposed is the very liberal attitude toward different lifestyles and personal choices. A specific example of Dutch tolerance is their approach to drug policy. The Netherlands has operated for many years with a form of decriminalization for personal use of soft drugs like, cannabis.
As I understand the general sentiment of the Dutch people; If you choose to use cannabis we don’t have a problem with that. It is your personal choice and you should be free of punishment if you consume responsibly.
An outgrowth of the tolerant drug policy is the thriving Coffeeshop business. In Amsterdam, all one word, coffeeshop = cannabis and hashish available…in addition to coffee and snacks. One of my favorites in Amsterdam is Siberie. It is a comfortable environment to consume cannabis and there are many coffeeshops throughout the city offering a wide selection of cannabis and hashish. The Dutch, under pressure from the U.S. government, have considered limiting these shops or shutting them entirely. One contributing factor to the Dutch losing their sense of tolerance is the behavior of some foreign youngsters who perhaps come for a visit and party a little too excessively. It is important to remember to mind one’s manners when visiting a foreign country.
Amsterdam has several museums of note; The Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum are popular and do offer advance ticket sales. Before visiting, check the calendar for concerts at the Royal Concertgebouw. They are a terrific orchestra and perform in a wonderful old venue.
I like Amsterdam! It is a comfortable city for walking and life is easy there.
Be sure to check out my pictures in the gallery