Amsterdam. Land of the Red Light, Brown Cafes and Bikes..
Oh so many bikes.
Maneuvering the streets in Amsterdam is like taking your life in your hands. If you aren’t being run over by the many hoards of stoned and rowdy tourists, you have to watch that you aren’t in the tracks of the many trams, or in the path of the few cars that actually drive the streets here…and if you can jump out of their way, you are bound to be standing in the “cycling path,” which pretty much consumes the rest of the street. The cycles rule the roads here, something that we had to learn oh so quickly as we exited the train station and made our way to the hotel. Funny, there are so many people here, yet, pedestrians have barely enough room to walk, without being the target of the bikes, cars AND trams. In a city where smoking Marijuana is legal, this is a recipe for disaster..I would think.
Amsterdam is full of canals, so the actual streets in the city are too few to support the growing city..and all the tourists. As a remedy, the city has started a HUGE construction project of building a subway system..something that made the city even more dirty and unkempt… We found that, so far, Amsterdam is by far the most crowded and hectic of the places that we have traveled. (even more so than Torino during the Games..) We were probably the only two of the many tourists, that didn’t frequent the coffeehouses or the underbelly of the Red Light District..although we did walk through one day only to be mildly repulsed..(what did we expect, you ask?) I was even offered Cocaine as we walked through an alley, while trying to escape the Red Light for the sane part of town.
Amsterdam is to Europe, what Vegas is to America. Sin City.
Aside from all of that, I think Amsterdam is an interesting place. Once we got out of the main tourist area and as far away from the Red Light and the Marijuana stench as possible, I found the canals, houseboats, alleys and architecture quite charming. We spent our days wandering the streets, in search of the perfect Caprihaña, and along the way, found some good food in quaint cafes along with a few open air markets filled with tulips, and more.