Saturday, December 14, 2013


Love Amsterdam. Love it for all the same reasons we did in 1979 when we spent a couple of weeks here. Indeed, it was December of '79 and we stayed at the Hotel Brian, a cheap B&B.

We knocked on the door. A man in his twenties answered and looked us over. In a clearly American accent he said, " Rooms are 30 guilders a night each and hash is 6 guilders a gram." 

One cold night when all the employees where out, we were put in charge of the door, which meant checking the prospective guests out, just to be sure that everyone would feel at home at The Brian. We turned down one, accepted another. 

But lest you think it is about smokables, it is not. It is about the feeling of being someplace where you are accepted and put at ease. 

The Dutch are simply the most charming, friendly, least paranoid people we have ever encountered. They never seem to grow frustrated with clueless tourists, their English is excellent and they are quick to offer advice to those who look lost. While Texans will tell you they have a live and let live attitude, I find the exact opposite. 

Here they allow the "coffee houses,"  but they see things are going a bit far, so they are carefully reigning them in, especially at border towns. The sex trade is legal, but Amsterdam has undertaken to enact better controls because crime has become a part of it. (And the red light district is MUCH bigger and more tawdry than it was.) 

It seems they want to give people a lot of freedom but look to set limits when the freedom becomes exploitation or abuse. I commend them for it. 

And let's face it- there are few cities on earth more visually interesting than Amsterdam. Especially on a sunny day. 

Our room above the striped awning.

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