Amsterdam, capitol of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is today an international city famed for its tolerance, beauty and reputation for the legalization of vices. Cannabis and prostitution are readily available for those who are willing to pay.
But we were not here for any vices, we were a (if I may brag) cute newlywed couple on our way to our honeymoon and here to enjoy a nice layover before our final destination of Morocco.
This maritime city is named after the river Amstel, the city of a great philosopher that I admire – Baruch Spinoza, and home of Anne Frank (הי״ד). We had seen many our American compatriots patron many coffee shops for the very legal Cannabis products here. I must declare that I am a federal government employee, and so I did not partake the tantalizing forbidden fruits this city offered. I did however enjoy some great food and loved the charm of this international city.
I have always enjoyed cities that boasts diversity. I heard Russian, Arabic, Turkish, French, Indonesian and German spoken among the residents. And of course English and Dutch are the lingua franca of this country. Perhaps more surprising that English is more used than Dutch here. The default language I heard at all times, and most of the advertisements here – is English. Not only English, but it seemed the spelling and accent they prefer is American English. That is quite helpful for us American (and I presume UK) visitors.
The narrow European streets, the cold breeze from the canal wind, and the coat of arms on the buildings would need weeks if not months to take in and appreciate. Unfortunately we had only a 18 hour layover. And we were extremely jetlagged from staying awake for 23 hours. We took in as much as we can enjoy before we started to walk back to our hotel because we were beginning to not make much sense to one another.
We thoroughly enjoyed the city, though I will confess we like countries where we feel out of place; places where the streets smell strange, if not unpleasant; places where the architecture are refreshing to us westerners.
We enjoy a good European city as any, but it has been thoroughly clear that we as travelers like places that have things that Europe and America does not possess. The beautiful skyline full of Minarets; places where people if divergent faiths both coexist and vie for possession; and places that make me feel at home while make me feel as a stranger in a strange land.
We loved Amsterdam, and perhaps you will come here and judge it for yourself. Smell the cold air from the canals, smell the smoke of something that is not tobacco, and hear the sound of American English spoken with a slight Dutch accent.