The promise to myself was that I couldn't re-read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman until I had this bad boy online... so here we are kiddies. Thank my numerous pagan dieties if you will. It is Amsterdam, a city of wooden shoes, a serious and devout love for the bicycle and THE sexiest place I've ever been! Maybe it's best that the little people don't read this in depth.
So, after making a few changes to my domino effect prone itinerary and giving the finger to Ryanair, I had myself a flight with Iberia booked and paid for. It was only once I'd landed at Schipol that I realised these changes were SO DAM WORTH IT! See what I did there?
This is a city built on water, or 're-claimed land' as they call it, which immediately had my interest. The canals I especially enjoyed so DO A RIVER CRUISE! Galleries are in steady supply, such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, and Dam Square which I found to be pleasant and a joy to walk through. You might even spot the odd group of anarchists going to town.
One of THE most significant voices in history was spoken within those walls and I was definitely on edge about stepping out of line. Seeing the diary itself was jaw dropping and I made the decision then and there to read it. I've been following the education activist Malala Yousafzai for many years now and it was here that I made the obvious realisation that before Malala, there was Anne Frank. The words of an opressed youth are a powerful instrument.
Very close to the Anne Frank House, and I mean spitting distance but don't go doing that, you will come across the Homomonument stretching out over one of the many canals. Whilst it's no secret that the Jews were persecuited by the Nazis, it was up until recently that I'd learnt very little (at least to me) had been shared about what was done to the LGBT victims of the holocaust.
Now upon my return some coworkers, and even a few of the parents of the children I teach to swim, have come to ask how my sex and drugs tour went. Did I or didn't I try some weed? Having now welcomed this joke with a WTF look I can say that I didn't go dabbling. Amsterdam is very laid back when it comes to prostitution and marijuana, a given and a prominent reason as to why so many tourists make the visit (I shared a dorm with several who kept going 'I wanna get high').
I did stumble into a coffee shop, Bulldogs it was called, and noticed bowls of brown stuff on the tables but that's as far as it went. The Dutch aren't in your face about it and for all it's a choice. Hell, the Dutch don't even like it I'd learnt. That said I am in awe of how easy it is for me to come across the stuff without even trying.