Current Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I don’t need a book to tell me that The Netherlands are probably the most densely populated country in Europe. It’s entirely evident upon crossing the border when you constantly see people on bike paths, walking their dog, shopping or just loafing around in a park. I never feel truly alone here even what seems to be the middle of nowhere I’ll encouner another cyclist. This does make it more difficult to free camp, but not impossible.
I have to thank Frank and Marieke for putting me up in Den Haag (The Hague.) I met them in Chiang Mai while on the mahout training and got along famously with them. At the time they invited me to stay if I ever made it to The Netherlands, they were more than happy to have me drop by. We did a cycle tour around the city after I dropped my gear off at their place. It almost turned into a whole mahout reunion but Gordon and Ezmie couldn’t make it. The tour was excellent and they introduced me to typical dutch fare and gave me history lessons and some current events that I had been wondering about. We finished the day with an excellent meal back at home with some equally amazing beer.
Having skirted around Amsterdam (abbreviated as A’dam) for about a week I finally took the plunge and made it into the city of a certain repute.
I had been avoiding A’dam for the simple reason that I have an invitation to celebrate Queens Birthday (Dutch Queen) with Miranda who I wwoofed for back in New Zealand and is back visiting family and friends. From what I understand Queens Birthday is an excuse for everyone to party hard. The streets turn orange (the national color) and everyone is out to have a good time, I am quite excited.
First impressions of A’dam. It’s expensive, 50 euro got me 3 nights bed in a hostel that includes breakfast, you can be sure I smuggle out enough fruits, bread and cheese to get me an included lunch and dinner. A backpackers gotta do what a backpackers gotta do, that is all I’ll say about that. The second thing is that the reputation that A’dam has is well earned. Everything you’ve heard about the place is true, it’s sort of a no-holds-barred playground. As long as what you do doesn’t interfere with anyone else it’s basically all good. It is interesting to see how everything meshes together though, you may have some mental image of the place (something akin to “Sin City”) but it still somehow maintains a sense of wholesomeness (in the daytime at least) where families still wander around the streets and kindergartens are right around the corner from the red-light district.
It must be the famous Dutch tolerance I’ve heard so much about.