Amsterdam, the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, is home to a canal system that is established on four concentric semi-circles. The canals of the city are on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. For years, it has been a popular tourist spot because of the various attractions it offers. The name of the city is taken from amstelredamme because the city was originally a dam of the Amstel River. The city is home to the world’s oldest stock exchange and is a financial hub of Europe. With wooden buildings, symbolic of Gothic architecture, and spectacular merchant’s houses, the city bears a rich architectural history. Time definitely does not stand still in this happening city which is famous for its lively night life.
50 shades of red
Amsterdam is colored with no less than fifty shades of red. De Wallen is an area designated for prostitution and is the city’s largest red-light district. Amsterdam uncovered its plan to roll up its red light district in 2007. Hundreds of prostitute apartments were closed down and the red lights were turned down. As the district was cleaned up of such businesses, artists and designers who were in search of studio apartments started pouring in. The project was named 1012 as that is the area’s postal code. Project 1012 was aimed at dealing with human trafficking and other such illegal activities. The efforts to clean up the district of illegal activities made room for various opportunities such as pottery, different kinds of courses, wine tastings and vinyl-record shops.
The Dutch have the ability to discuss almost anything whether it’s assisted suicide or sex. But when it comes to dining, they can get a little awkward. Until a few years ago, all that a person seeking quality meal could find was a traditional cafè serving meat or fish with salad and fries. For a city offering numerous attractions and a rich culture, how could such a meal be enough for true indulgence? But all that is past. Today, Amsterdam offers quality food, a variety of places and a good customer service. Amsterdam hosts a restaurant week twice a year and has Michelin-starred restaurants. Albert Heijn is the national supermarket, founded in 1887, and offers an eco-friendly line. The Dutch cable has its own network of food channels hosting a variety of shows.
Till now, Amsterdam offered a small variety of lodgings which were either very expensive, charging for gym and Wi-Fi even, or very basic such as ho-hum chains. But now, more and more of small lodgings are coming to the surface which are stylish and comfortable. These lodgings are situated in prime locations. The rooms are well designed with workstations consisting of Apple products. The friendly hosts and the organic breakfast are something that will make your visit worthwhile.
Bezuiniging - don’t tire yourself trying to pronounce it - is a fany word which means cuts and has been said again and again to explain the cutting down of budgets. The conservative government started this process of cutting down budgets in 2010 because of the global recession. This process has resulted in businesses going bankrupt, hard-working people getting fired, closing down of art foundations, etc.
The Dutch are always ready to talk about the weather so if you want to start a conversation, it’s always best to begin with weather. However, another way to begin a conversation is by saying Noord-Zuidlijn, which are two places being connected by the metro, and will be a travel of just 16 minutes! The metro is expected to cost an extra 1.5 billion euros and to be completed in 2017. You can visit the Uitkijkpunt, which is Amsterdam’s observation station, to check out the progress of the project. Amsterdam is now offering better mobility due to the improved network of tram and there are announcements made in English to help tourists.
You will find slogans such as ‘good girls go to heaven, bad girls to amsterdam’ on T-shirts which are a testament of the city’s immoral reputation. Tourists are the fuel of its weed industry. The city’s coffee shops are famous for use and sale of drugs which attract a lot of foreigners and the native language is the last you are likely to hear. Smoking pot was prohibited in coffee shops for foreigners when a legislation was passed in 2012.
Coffee shops located in close proximity with schools were shut down. In May of 2012, a few provinces started to demand that the coffee shops provide drugs only to their members; to become a member, one had to have a wietpas. And only Dutch residents were allowed to get a ‘weed pass’ which would help them to purchase hash or marijuana. In 2013, this regulation was to be made effective in all the provinces. This action resulted in coffee shops as big as super markets, roads jammed with traffic and drugs being sold on streets. Seeing the adverse results of this action, the liberal government of Amsterdam canceled the use of the weed pass and now the city not only welcomes visitors with open arms but also lets them enter its coffee shops.