J from Jollying with a Jew – Part II: Amsterdam
J from Jollying with a Jew – Part II: Amsterdam
I enjoyed the fact that after a painfully shite summer of rain and cloudy weather, redemption finally arrived. Funny enough, Nir had told me before, that he was looking forward to the rainy and dank, misty, cold Belgian weather. He actually meant it. I know right. Unfortunately for him, there was none of that. This is Amsterdam at its most seductive: the city comes back to life, city folk crowd every canal bench, lawn and sidewalk cafe, soaking up those warm rays of sunlight. It’s difficult to not appreciate the cute canals, its boats and colourful houses aligned at the banks or the thousands of little shops and merchant’s homes against the backdrop of azure skies.
Amsterdam is charming beyond belief, even though neither of us had this WOW-feeling of being blown off our socks. It’s very pretty, but I felt it didn’t deliver in terms of culture. Everyone knows by now that gastronomy, art and authenticity float Vixxie’s boat and I don’t really consider Amsterdam top notch on the cultural food chain. I guess for foreigners, this city is that one place their parents warned them about when they were a teenager. The city of legalized public porn and marijuana, quite the attraction to the random 20 year old, behaving like a lusty animal, distracted by things that are illegal back home and suddenly legal over here… Poor poor Amsterdam. I may have a clouded judgment about the city’s attraction because I literally live on the borderline with the Netherlands, I see coffeeshops every day, I walked through the famous Rue d’Aerschot in Brussels (prostitutes) every day on my way to college and as such I have come to find certain things very evident. Amsterdam is incredibly open to different points of views regarding religion or politics. People openly talk about sex and topics that are taboo, and their views do not discriminate against others, hence the many holebi rainbow flags proudly decorating boats and peripherals. You don’t come across a lot of cities where street actors can come up with a slur such as “I am sweating like a pedophile at a Justin Bieber concert” and have the whole crowd pissing their pants laughing.
Nir and I both got our rebel edge off a long while ago, and we weren’t much impressed with legal soft drugs even though we did gawk a little bit at the red-light district though 😉 Especially at the cunt-shaped lollies and the Hebrew inscriptions on an advertisement pane promoting live stage fucking. Almost as if they had forgotten real jews can not have sex before and out of marriage … Yeah errr… speshiul.
Have you ever noticed the specific Amsterdam floorpattern from up above? Take a look at this aeral picture I came across online. Convenient atmosphere for a relaxing bit floating around the canals by boat. I was somewhat hoping it would compare to Venice, discovering unique palazzo’s and splendors in architecture around every corner while gently hovering the water on a gondola. Not only was it one hour of the same sights over and over and over, also.. our audioguides didn’t work, which was a bit of a kick in the teeth. I have banned the word “boring” from my city-tripping dictionary but I think we both felt a bit jaded at that point. Enough with the water already !
Unfortunately, apart from the Rijksmuseum and some really nicely decorated shopping arcades, I can’t really say I stumbled upon little architectural jewels other than the famous crooked façades of the Damrak, nor imposing churches, nor any beautiful historical town squares. There was a lot of water, a lot of bridges, a lot of live entertainment of all sorts (be it street artists or prostitutes) but there is as much leisure as one can stand before going banana’s at the oversupply. De Bijenkorf was a little disappointment to me, I had imagined it would be like an active bee-hive full of cosy little boutiques and vintage stores but it turned out to be a chique and pretentious mall full of brands that I couldn’t even afford should I have a triple salary every month.
In Amsterdam, you bike or you go home. Biking is THE mode of transportation for all ages and tourists. For my travelbuddy, it was hard to grasp entire parking lots crammed full of bikes instead of cars, and all those dedicated lanes for bikes, cars, buses, and pedestrians both in Holland and Antwerp. Judging by the pain of ripping himself a new one on my spare bike at home, I would assume there are hardly any bikers in his hometown. But perhaps that’s a big ask of a city terrain that consists of a mix of Dakar soil and San Francisco hills ;). Totally worth the “oh my god, if this bike rips my pants, I will be so mad!”
We did however enjoy a traditional Hollandish Heineken on a sunsoaked terrace in the middle of town and eachother’s company, which was by far the highlight of my day in The Netherlands. Oh and he got the best supermario T-shirt ever!
Next stop tomorrow: PARIS !