I’ve spent the last few days in the sin-city of Amsterdam where open minds are abundant. People are at whole different level here. Coffee shops don’t sell just coffee and window-shopping has a different meaning. Tolerance is this city’s motto. I love it.
My hostel has a smoking room where tobacco isn’t allowed. People spend their entire day in there. Last night I almost tripped over a guy in the hallway who was on a different kind of trip. His friend told me he was having fungal-dreams. There’s a church in the middle of the red light district. I wonder what kind of sins are confessed there.
I’ve wondered through the alleys of the RLD. It’s kind of like going to the mall, but without the brand names. The girls make eye contact with you and smile. As you walk by they tap on the window enticing you to approach their door. I’ve overhead that “it’s fifty euro for suck and fuck.” It’s a nice little jingle actually – it rhymes. This place is a tourist attraction so there are all sorts of people taking a look. There are couples walking hand-in-hand who are equally interested/amazed, old ladies reminded of their prime, and obviously the asian tourists who are disappointed that they can’t take peek-a-chures. Of course, the majority of people are guys wandering around after spending time drinking in the pubs or smoking in the coffee shops. It’s not unusual to see guys step out of the doors with awkward smiles on their faces. They quickly depart and get lost in the crowds, becoming anonymous. Moments later the girl opens her curtain ready for another. Time is money.
On my second day here, I rented a bike – it costs only €6 a day. Amsterdam is nice and flat so it’s easy to get around on two wheels. The roadways are all bike friendly and everyone rides bikes. On the busier streets it’s organized chaos; somehow it all just works. I’ve only seen one accident where a scooter clipped a cyclist, but no one was hurt and neither party was really that angry. Tolerance.
I’d say there are a lot of people who come to Amsterdam for either the green or the red. However, there are other things to do in this city. So far, I’ve been to the Van Gough museum, the Artis Zoo, the Vondelpark, and of course Klimmuur Centraal.
Van Gough was a bit disappointing for me. I don’t know much about this guy, but I had heard he was eccentric and a little out there. I had anticipated artwork with the same characteristics. Sure some of it was a little strange in a cool way and his painting style was something different and identifiable. I think I was most impressed by his passion for art: He’s also known for many letters he wrote to his brother Theo. In them he discusses everything about his paintings. He talks about how he’s learning new painting techniques, inspirations, self-criticisms of his work, and how he’s excited that maybe, just maybe he’ll sell a painting or two. Although during his time he had gained respect and status, it’s too bad he didn’t become so famous until many years after he died/committed suicide.
The Artis Zoo was my first visit to any zoo. I had never seen zebras or giraffes before. This zoo had all the goods. Monkeys, apes, lions, pelicans, an aquarium, an insectarium, a butterflyarium, and more!
Vondelpark is the Central Park of Amsterdam. I rode a loop around the entire park. There were joggers, people doing Tai Chi, tennis players, picnickers and other cyclists enjoying the park. I think later today I’ll go back there and read my book.
The climbing gym in Amsterdam is pretty good. I only bouldered because I didn’t have a partner, but the climbing walls look amazing with routes that required full rope lengths. We just don’t get to climb long indoor routes in Canada. I was also surprised how easy it was for me to have gym access. I literally walked, said that I wanted to boulder, paid €8, then went climbing! No waiver or anything like that. They didn’t even ask my name.
So now I’m at the Coffee Company drinking a chai latte and using free wifi. I’m outside of the tourist zone hanging with local students and business people. It almost feels like I’m at home.