The Essence of Amsterdam

The buildings are crooked. Lots of coffeeshops - the smell of pot hits you as you walk by. If you want coffee (and not pot) go to a place that sells "koffie." The local poison is Jenever ("yeh-NAY-ver"), an improvement on gin. Marijuana is legal for all practical purposes, psylocibin mushrooms are legal, and prostitution is legal. Walking the canals is gorgeous. I can't pronounce the 'G' sound - and neither can you: it's gutteral and rolled and there is no English equivalent. There are bikes everywhere - thousands (literally) parked at Centraal station, chained to every railing, and riding on every road. Most houses, even really recent ones, have lifting hooks installed in the eaves for lifting materials in through the windows. The churches are a disappointment after other major European cities - the Calvinists didn't believe in decoration.

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by giles