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Trip Report Long weekend in Amsterdam

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Ive never really wanted to go to Amsterdam, I had an idea it was a bit sleezy and grubby and unless someone on this forum had not told me about the Hermitage Matisse exhibition, I would still not have been. That would be shame because Amsterdam is vibrant, eclectic, cultured, bohemian and fun!

Overall impressions are as follows:

1. Its a very liberal city. Cannabis plants were openly on sale on the bulb market , a discrete little note in the hotel room stated it was NOT permitted to smoke on the premises and those caught would be fined 150 euros and thrown out and, on more than one occasion, I caught a waft of something a bit mind altering in the evening air. And yet, that does not give an accurate impression at all, because Amsterdam is a bohemian mixture of culture and tolerance. it took me a day or so to gauge the rhythm of the place but when you start to harmonize its a supremely well balanced way of life. And the straight laced abstainers (definitely numbering me amongst them ) are tolerated as well.

2. Amsterdam was built in the 1600's and to be honest Im not sure that much has changed - its full of cobbled allies and graceful buildings and seems to be there for people to live in, not cars to drive around.

Bearing in mind comment one, there are a lot of tripping hazards on the pavements, and I am amazed more people do not end up at the bottom of a set of basement steps or taking an early bath in the canal. That's before I even start on the camicazi tenancies of the average Dutch cyclist. Everyone rides bicycles and what is so nice is that its not about getting dressed up in Lycra and titanium frame technology, you just climb on board an old crate in whatever you chose to wear that day and start peddling. Be warned on the 12th June each year they have an annual naked cycling rally through the streets.

3. Amsterdam is compact and architecturally interesting and rewards those that put in the effort to walk. Having said that I bought a 3 day I Am pass that for 58 euros gave me free public transport and free entry into every major place of interest. I saved a bundle. The trams are numerous and efficient and the best way to get around.

So what did I do? Van Gogh Museum, Diamond Museum, Handbag Museum, Reich museum, Hermitage (twice) Rembrandt's House, River trip and a walk around the canals (not entirely intentional but pleasing none the less!) and went over, under and around the Skinny Bridge.

Between all of this, I 'lost' my hotel, had all trains back to the airport cancelled, experiences a very peculiar cup of tea (continentals just cant do tea) and forgot where I parked my car at the airport! More about this tomorrow when I'm less tired.

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