Amsterdam (Netherlands)

 

Bold Statement…….Amsterdam ranks up as one of the coolest cities in the world.  And, that says a great deal coming from us Flashpacking beach bums.

So, what is there to do in Amsterdam besides wander the beautiful canals completely baked, eat cheese, see windmills, and check out some ladies of the night (actually mid afternoon ladies as well) displayed like live mannequins inside street side windows, for sale…..short time.

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For the more well rounded tourists, you can visit the many museums.  We passed on these but did check out the must-see Anne Frank House which happened to be down the block from the Airbnb condo we rented in the Jordaan area.  In my opinion, the Jordaan area is one of he nicest areas to be based.  There are many other cool canal areas to base yourself, just avoid the congested/commercialized Dam Square/Central Station and Red Light areas.

The abundance of amazing green parks are an awesome daytime retreat here in Amsterdam and the Dutch flock here and so did we.  They use the parks as their ‘beach’ with beautiful Dutch girls laying out in their bikinis.  Our favorite parks to hang out in were: Vondelpark, Westerpark, Sarphatipark, Oosterpark & Museumplein.  We really enjoyed spending our time in these massive parks watching the world go by.

We were fortunate that during our 2 week stay, it was 80-85 degree, bright sunny weather which I had been told by locals was an aberration.  They say, it is actually unheard of to have this sort of weather at this time of year.  We will take it, cause Amsterdam probably would not be as pleasant to navigate around during the normal rainy, cold and windy winter months.

Bar none, the best activity is simply getting on your bicycles and just cruising around the city taking in all the vibrant action on every turn that this incredible city has on offer.  We rented bikes for our entire 2 week stay.  We rode our bikes to all our meals, to all the parks and places of interest throughout the day.  Not a single euro was spent on taxi’s.  Such a pleasurable and healthy way of getting around.  We must have rode close to 20 miles everyday taking into account all our daily stops.  The bikes enabled us to really explore, not only the city centre but also the outskirts where we were able to really see how the Dutch live.  Amsterdam is also a fabulous walking city.  We did walk a great deal but biking was the preferred option.

Upon arrival, one thing we took notice of is how healthy looking everybody looks.  Barbie kept wondering why Dutch people, both men and women are so damn healthy looking.  How they look like Nordic models and appear to be seemingly perfect.  In addition to looking healthy, they talk and act so proper.  While biking around the city, I would glance over at Barbie’s face and her jaw was usually dropped in awe looking at these beautiful people zipping by on their pedal bikes.  Barbie kept commenting, “There are so many beautiful men here and they all look like Ken dolls.  They just need to know where to go as the women all over the world are looking for them”.  She insisted, “American woman would die for these men.  It is the land of beautiful white people.  They are all clean, their skin looks fantastic and the older people all have full heads of hair and are in shape.”

Neil Young best summed up Barbie’s thoughts on the men and women here within his lyrics of Cortez the Killer:
AND THE WOMEN ALL WERE BEAUTIFUL
AND THE MEN STOOD STRAIGHT AND STRONG

There has to be some backside to all this good looking stuff.  Maybe the Dutch men are really psychopaths or maybe they all have really small penises as something clearly is keeping them at bay.  They appear like they do not want to leave this city either, so therein lies the problem for American women seeking this perfect Nordic man.  Barbie explained, “They all speak Dutch, a language that nobody cares to learn or know.  Therefore, nobody knows what they are saying……  But, the way they look, no one cares.”

I partially agreed with her assessment and also found the women to be particularly attractive.  If you find yourself attracted to a lady many years older than your your age, it really does not make a difference as they all look good.  You could be looking at a great ass on the street and when the girl turns around, she could be 60 yr. old lady.

Why all the pretty folks?
The primary mode of transportation around the city, as well as the entire country, is by bicycle.  From birth, every boy/girl first learns to walk and then everyone immediately learns to get around by bike.  You even see both older ladies and men who appear to be in their 60’s and 70’s zipping around the picturesque canals on their bikes.  You gotta believe the lifestyle of everyday bike riding to get around has got to help keep you young and fit.

While trying to figure out why everyone is so good looking, Barbie surmised that Ralph Lauren must of had a casting call over here.  Just like in a Ralph Lauren commercial, you will see Nordic men/women actually ride their little kids and puppies in the basket in front of their pedal bikes.

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Everything just looks so organized throughout the city centre in Amsterdam.  You have men and women zipping around the canal streets on their bicycles seemingly with not a care in the world.  Protected bike lanes are on every single street.  Why this works, is because bikes have the right of way over cars.  The big obstacle is getting a handle on the canal layout with streets jetting off each canal and street names constantly changing.  It sure did not help being partially comatose and seeing street names with 30 letters and the majority of the letters being vowels.  But, it is gratifying to say that us globe trotting Flashpackers mastered the art of navigating around after a few days and we are now Amsterdam pros.

The sidewalks in the city centre are packed with tourists with many walking around completely stoned.  Because the sidewalks are crowded, tourists are tempted to step into the designated street/bike path.  There has got to be some huge crashes in this city between pedestrians and bike riders and I was really amazed that I did not see one crash during our visit.

BTW, did I tell you, Barbie and I watched a live sex show in Amsterdam’s red light district for 2 euros at an aptly named Sex Palace.  What do you get for 2 euros?  Those 2 euros get you 2 minutes in one of 8 tiny private booths alongside other complete perverts encircling a lovely couple on a mattress.  After 2 minutes the curtain comes down like a guillotine and then you need to make a decision whether to pull the trigger on another 2 minutes.  1 euro per minute seemed like a good all around deal.  The 2 minutes was sufficient for us Flashpackers, so we left without trying to touch the door handle or anything else on the way out.

It’s not all about visiting coffeeshops and window shopping for hookers in the red light district. The city has a ton of cultural stuff to do, if you so desire both in and outside the city.   We made it out to visit Zaanse Schans which is known for their cool windmills, clog making, cheese making/tasting and assorted other Dutch shit.  The other day trip, a short train ride outside of Amsterdam was to the city of Haarlem.  I would definitely include Haarlem, on market day (Saturday), to any Amsterdam visit.  Haarlem was basically a miniaturized version of Amsterdam but without the frenetic pace.  We really enjoyed walking around Haarlem’s cool streets.  For beach lovers, close by to Haarlem, you can bike 25 minutes to Zandvoort & Bloemendaal Beach.

There are about 180 coffeeshops currently operating in Amsterdam alone.  These coffeeshops sell weed to anyone over 18 yrs. old.  Most of these coffeshops really only cater to tourists as I was told the Dutch do no smoke alot of weed.  Dutch drug policies are centered on the idea that people should make their own decisions about how they treat their bodies as long as they do so without harming anyone else and behave responsibly.  The Dutch have accepted that pot should be treated just like the use of tobacco and alcohol in the United States.  And, by this acceptance, the Netherlands has one of the lowest marijuana consumption rates in the world among it citizens.  One difference between SE Asia and here in Amsterdam is that in Asia, they will kill you with a shotgun to your head if caught with possession of any pot.  Here in Amsterdam, nobody gives a damn if you are getting baked alongside the canals or in the parks.  The smell of weed permeates the air every so often.  I will never forget zipping around the canals on our bikes with the occasional smell of pungent ganja in the air every time we rode passed a coffeeshop. This relaxed lifestyle here just made me smile.

We visited many coffeeshops.  Some of our favs were Siberie, Kadinsky, Smoke Palace, Katsu, Greenhouse Centrum, Dampkring, Barney’s and Abraxas.  The most unique and colorful being Prix d’ Ami.  It was a three (3) floor coffeeshop.  The place reminded me of the old Danceteria in New York in the 80’s, where Madonna got her start.  Danceteria nightclub had three (3) floors of complete wackiness with each floor having their own theme.  Unlike Danceteria, Prix d’ Ami coffeeshop had no dancing.  Just 3 levels of complete stoners.  Each level looked like a fraternity living room with comfortable couches spread around TV’s on the wall.  The top floor showed 3D movies to a completely baked crowd sprawled out on the couches as if it was their own home.  We even saw a 60 year old couple partaking in the scene.  If you have nothing going on, this is the place to do nothing.  A real Spiccoli joint.

I remember in Singapore, they also had an entertainment venue with 3 floors.  It was known locally as “3 floors of whores”.  Each floor housed a different nationality of Asian prostitutes.  I wondered to myself…..what’s up with these successful 3 floor entertainment venues spanning the globe?  Maybe there is an opportunity for a 3 floor horseracing/sports entertainment complex solely catering to degenerates with whipping only permitted on the 3rd level.

We were sad to leave after our two week stay in Amsterdam.  It was a great decision to rent a condo via Airbnb as opposed to staying in a hotel.  This enabled us to live like a local and I will never forget this experience.  I am a bit sorry that we failed to visit Rotterdam, the other big city we initially intended to visit in the Netherlands.  I have heard Rotterdam is a great university city on par with Amsterdam.  We simply got caught up in all the action that Amsterdam has on tap that we just stayed put for our entire 2 week stay.  Barbie and I are not big city people but I can say Amsterdam is one city that we could easily live in long term.  Next trip out here, we would plan to base ourselves in Rotterdam.

Our time is up in the Netherlands and we are off to our next European country for a one week stint.

QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX –
Much to the dismay of many, the loose stools index came to an end on this blog.  Once we left SE Asia and its ubiquitous reesky street food, our stools have become too consistent to report on.  Although not as juicy and thought provoking, the Loose Stools Index, will be replaced by The Quality of Life Index.  On this 2nd year of our RTW, we will be visiting mostly first world countries where happiness reigns and I will provide my index rating on the quality of life in each country.  For loyal readers of my stools index, I will throw you a bone one last time for old times sake.  I am happy to report my loose stools index is a perfect 10 here in Amsterdam.  A great way to end the index on top of the game.

AMSTERDAM QUALITY OF LIFE –
8 –  I would have given Amsterdam a 9 but after our time spent in the very mellow city of Haarlem, we both came to the realization that the neighboring smaller cities on the outskirts of Amsterdam were a bit more calm and relaxing.  Consequently, I had to take down the index one notch as a result.

THRU THE BINOCS –
If you are a NFL football or horse racing fan, Amsterdam is a good place to base yourself in the fall months.   Both begin at 7 PM, so you have all day to do stuff followed by some great sports action at night.

Is a cashless society in the cards here in the Netherlands and possibly elsewhere?  Many stores, cafes and restaurants do not accept cash as a form of payment.  It’s all debit and credit cards and it sure simplifies things.  Looks like I may have gotten out of the tamper evident cash bag business before the bag bubble bursts?

Restaurants-
De Reiger, Cafe Sonneveld,  Moeders, Winkel, Thaise Snack Bar, Foodhallen, Oriental City Dim Sum, Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs, Koh I Noor, Bird Restaurant, Cafe Bij ons, Amigo Argentine,
De Vier Pilaren, Rainarai.

French Fries Joints-
Manneken Pis, Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx

Deli’s and Fast Food –
JWO Lekkenijen, Sterk Staaltje Deli, De Kaaskamer, Chris Kip @Albert Cuyp Market, Frens Herring, La Place, Iberico, Frens Haringhandel, Chocolate Pompadour, KaashuisTromp

 

 

 

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