08 September 2014

My Love-Hate Relationship with Amsterdam

It seems that I have a few love-hate relationships. I have one with IKEA, with New York City, and even with a piece of literature. And now I have a love-hate relationship with yet another city, that is, Amsterdam.

See, I have been to Amsterdam twice now, first in January of 2013, and second in July this year. I spent 6 nights in the city due to a conference. And overall, while there are aspects of the city that I really liked, there are also aspects of the city that I am not a fan of.

First, let me talk about the things I like. I really loved the medieval city center. I loved the old tall and narrow houses, built around the canals that divide the city neighborhoods. The scenery is just very quaint, and therefore very different from the other old towns of other European cities. I also like the diverse culinary scene in the city, and I have been trying Surinamese and Indonesian food one day after another. And finally, I like the spirit of tolerance here, where you can be pretty much anyone you wanna be, and drink, smoke pot, and even have sex.

Now, there are also things I didn't like. Mostly it has something to do with the visitors. It feels like Amsterdam is the destination for young college kids who have more money and therefore want to spend their Spring Break on a place farther away from home, so if you're American, instead of going to Cancun, you go to Amsterdam. During one of the days I was there, I was walking along Spuistraat, and there were four young girls walking in front of me. Suddenly, one of them looked across the street to the right, and shouted, "Oh there's a mushroom shop!" Then all four girls just ran and crossed the road. Overall, I find the tourist crowd here a little immature and therefore slightly annoying. Not that I am a prude or anything, I honestly have no problem with mushrooms or marijuana, but sometimes, I feel like these tourists who go to Amsterdam for the drug scene are just over the top.

Oh well, I think I still had a great time, even though there are things I didn't like. That's always the case most of the time, there are destinations where there are aspects that sound good to you, and there are aspects that are not. I'd still be back here if I had the chance.

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