June 17, 2012

Amsterdam tripping ~~~

The best thing about living in Europe is the number of travel choices for a long weekend. Travelling from one city to another offers a magnitude of things to do, shops to see and history to learn. My friend who lives in 'den Haag' told me all that I needed to know about the Dutch... on the superficial level and their way of life. My conclusion? The Dutch are incredibly interesting people!

Amsterdam is synonymous with 'legal weed', 'coffeeshops', 'red light district', however, that is a very limited view of this vibrant city. To get this topic out of the way... yes, I did visit the Red Light District, and honestly thought that the place would have looked so much nicer without these joints. There's nothing seedy about the Red Light District, where tourists flock to see women in skimpy bikinis standing inside a glass window. 

Which brings me to the topic of nudity. The Dutch have a 'blaze' opinion of nudity - some 'extreme nudists' can strip naked and not give a flying damn about exhibitionism (typically expressed by tourists - i.e. MOI!). I saw 20 or so naked men & women cycling around the smaller streets, with a camera man shooting. No pants, no nothing. Free hanging and all!!

What about coffee shops and weed? It is legal. But they have recently passed this law that now prevents foreigners from purchasing and smoking weed from coffee joints. Coffee joints are also not allowed to advertise, but you can smell weed from a mile away. To me, it stinks, even more so than cigarettes. Not the slightest bit curious on the effect, and never will. 

You do encounter florists selling marijuana seeds. Not to be taken into Singapore of course...

On the other side, Holland has some lovely tulips! They have fields and fields of tulips, which they then export to all European cities.

AND, they have lovely canals! Many more than Denmark. 

With some fascinating buildings, each with it's own character and architectural build. 

Including a building which looks obviously tilted to the right! 

And leaning forwards as well. 

And the Dutch houses that stand by the canals have a characteristic steps into the front door - simply because Amsterdam is below sea level! The Indonesian government needs to learn how the Dutch manage this, because the rate of flooding is too embarrassing. 

Another feature of Dutch houses is the large windows. My simplistic attempt to explain this points to the Calvinist society, which is built on 'penny savers' and 'saving for the rainy day'. Anyone is free to look inside the windows, only to see very basic furniture and a simple way of life. Anything extravagant is always dismissed by the Dutch, who don't want to be seen as 'superior' or 'better off' than anyone else. 

Moving house is often a pain in the butt. You can barely move up the stairs with one person, yet alone big pieces of furniture. How do they move then? Each building has a hook - furniture moves in and out of apartments from the windows. How ingenius is that!!

Amsterdam is particularly friendly towards gays. Generally, a tolerant society. Weak drugs, alcohol, nudity, sex, etc are all ok for the Dutch. Hard drugs on the other hand are badly frowned upon.

This is what you see of Amsterdam, but surprisingly different when you visit other cities (Leiden, Rotterdam, etc). Other Dutch cities are more conservative, like yours and mine, and even go the extra mile to still wear the old style Dutch maid clothing! 

My weekend in Amsterdam could not be complete without a museum visit. Their historical art schools have lead the way in terms of art techniques, such as, lighting, shading and textures. Rembrandt, amongst the few world famous Dutch painters, dating back to the 1700s, has a few of his paintings permanently exhibited at the Rijksmuseum. 

That particular weekend was the Denmark vs. Holland 16th Phase of the UEFA 2012 Eurocup Championship, which I profess that I am obsessed about lately. Holland lost to Denmark that weekend, a surprising defeat, considering that Holland had won the championship 4 years ago. The city was buzzing with energy with people 'pre celebrating' Holland's win, claiming 'We are the Champions' and patriotically displaying stark orange attire. The Dutch definitely know how to have fun! 

Who did I support? Denmark of course! Now don't go telling the Dutch that...!

To anyone who are football fans ("really, Tracy? this is a beauty blog"), happy Eurocup 2012! May the best team win! 


Miaka said...

The way furnitures are being moved out of the apartment is really interesting!

Tracy@Beauty Reflections said...

Great pics!
Someday I want to visit! Belgium too of course! ;)

Jacqueline said...

Tracy, I love these posts. I love to see how others on the other side of the world live. It is so interesting.

Tracy said...

Hi Miaka, isn't it? Probably requires more work though.

Hi Tracy, I've been to Brussels and Brugge. I think there's much more interesting cities in Europe. Although, the Belgium beers are not to be missed.

Hi Jacqueline, it's such a different way of life in Europe compared to Asia. Each has their pros and cons. The one thing that stands out from Europeans in general is the way to approach things in a creative way.

Sarah S. said...

Tracy, I feel like I got a tour with this post, loved it <3

makeup magpie said...

Thanks for sharing your great travel pics! It's always interesting to see how people live "across the pond" :)

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