I thought I wrote a review of Amsterdam last year when we rented a houseboat there. But after searching frustratingly for it (I apologize for all the vague subject labels in blog version 1.0...will endeavor to improve from now on), I only found pictures. So I must have wrote it up in a dream or something.
We both loved Amsterdam last year. It isn't all drugs and hookers. They make up such a minute part of the city, it's almost laughable. You'd be surprised at how many young families there are.
You'd also be surprised with how most people ride around in granny bikes (one gear only) with an infant in the mini seat attached to the handle bars and a larger kid in another attached seat behind Mom/Dad, all without helmets. Or the number of families teaching their young to ride along busy, busy streets wobbling away, 3 across.
You wouldn't find that happening around here. We are so safety minded in NA, we'd likely judge those parents as incompetent. But in Europe, it works. We've only seen one accident involving a tram and a cyclist. The cyclist was in error.
Cyclists in Amsterdam have a bit of a God Complex. They will ignore traffic signals and will tear around corners without slowing down. It takes a couple of streets to get into the groove as a pedestrian. In reality they can be more dangerous than cars as they can be silent.
Most will ring their bells but when bikes from both directions are, you will have to figure out who and why they are ringing. Plus their traffic lights aren't always the same frequency as automobiles so you really do need to look. D's parents will be heading to Amsterdam this summer (first trip to Europe) and he is worried for their lives.
We arrived on the eve of a long weekend and the number of people there were staggering. In hindsight, it was very much like game weekend in Munich. It caught us off guard as we remembered the quiet slow serene Amsterdam that we fell in love with. Both of us wondered if we'd still feel that way after a week of trying to weed our way through aimless crowds. Luckily after the long weekend, it mostly reverted back to what we knew.
After stopping for fries at Manneken Pis (not the best, in my opinion, Vlaamse Frites further down the Damrak is better) we weeded our way towards our apartment. Then it happened. We took a side road to get away from all the people who were slowing us down too much and ended up at what I believed to be a known intersection. D felt we should turn left and I felt we needed to turn right.
For about a minute, we were 'that couple' you see arguing at a street corner, maps out, pointing in opposite directions with people giving us a wide berth. Normally I get deadly calm when I engage in debates but when you add heat (it was really warm that day), having travelled for 7 hrs already and maybe a bit of dehydration, my patience just evaporates, especially when it was looking like we were running late. And I hate being late.
And when D gets that certain 'tone' in his voice, somewhere between condescending and know it all, I start raising my voice (how dare he?!). He actually accused me of suffering from 'pork deprevation' and 'I would be happy to admit I was wrong if I was' (crap).
So I bring out the you 'half German half Scottish bull head' (yes we resorted to name calling). 'I may not be able to locate an airport from the air but I know my street maps. I think all the beer you drank in Munich killed one too many brain cells...I'm not going to keep standing here looking like an idiot. I'm going this way. If the next street is Overtoom, then it's the right way, if not then you are right.' So with a defiant look, D followed.