December 17, 2014 by brasiersarah
I LOVE Amsterdam, and my love for is not limited to the coffee shops and pubs, as fun as they are. I love Amsterdam because in the face of debauchery and blatant drug consumption, still there remains a distinguished air about the city. Venture further beyond the Red Light District and you will see for yourself. Some of the best museums in the world are situated in Amsterdam, the Rijks museum for instance by far the most elegant building I have stepped into and who could forget Van Goughe. But my purest form of love stems from the statement that Amsterdam makes to the rest of the world. That drugs and prostitution do not drag down a city into the quarreling depths of a slum.
Again we find ourselves on the same path as the Californians, twice in two continents. I mean this with no negative connotation its always good to see friendly faces and I can think of no two friendlier. We decided that on a nice grey cloudy day we would rent a boat and traverse the canals with a few beers some cheese and bickies. Aside from the weather the day could not have been better we only managed a few nervous shouts from the ladies and there were few backseat drivers to be heard of.
From the moment we arrived there was not a dull moment to be had in this crazy city. Simply sitting and observing the madness unfold on the streets we were treated to a show by a man belting out bob marley songs to the best of his ability. Then we went on to witness a whole police station try and remove a crazy man from the roof of a building. We were in Amsterdam red eyed and bushy tailed and we could not get enough.
We were still white with shock at how expensive Europe was when we booked this place. But hey!…. When in Rome. After a few days we noticed that our little “cozy” apartment resembled the red windows that lined the streets. After we found the thick black curtain that separated the door from the rest of the house we certain that the street level apartment was not as innocent as it seemed.
This is what I meant about how beautiful Amsterdam was after leaving the Red Light District. With the distinct lack of cars the bells rung freely throughout the beautiful streets.
This is the real deal, Van Gough’s – The Bedroom. Not many painters could fill a three-story museum and expect its occupants to be marveled the whole way up. We spent about 7 hours here and the only reason we left is because they kicked us out. This guy is incredibly amazing not just because he is dead but his raw talent screams at you from every painting. You start on the bottom floor and work you way up chronologically. You see his transformation of a gifted artist to a god of the arts. My words cannot express my respect for Van Gough so I will say nothing but see it for yourself and you will know what I mean.
Here you can see the Rijks Museum, closed for renovations last time I was here I was lucky enough to get in this time and not just once. We went for the obligatory museum visit so we could defend our Amsterdam experience as not just a haze of fun. Once we walked in we were blown away.
Of course the art was amazing but the building itself was a piece of art. Beautiful stained glass widows paint the halls with color and ceilings gazed down upon you as if from the heavens.
This was one of two temple guardians that came from Asia and is dated to somewhere around 1300-1400. What they hold in their hand is called a “vajra” and it symbolises the crushing of ignorance.
This glass is from 17th century Germany and each ring is the measure you have to gulp each time the glass touches you lips. If you failed then you were expected to keep drinking until you got it right.
After the Rijks and the Van Gough we decided to keep on the deeply cultural path and make our way to the Rembrandt museum. We got a glimpse to what it was like to be an artist of the 16th century. Paints were then made from things like beetle shells from South America for dark reds and millions of mollusks for vivid purples. Sometimes a painter would have to wait months for shipments to arrive so he or she could finish their painting. Nothing was instantaneous then all your ideas had to be recorded so when the paint finally came you could put it to paper. A life as an artist is hard now but nothing compared to what painters like Rembrandt and Van Gough faced. Maybe that’s what made them so great.
Our day spent at Vondel Park was spent surrounded by friends. Vondel Park is kind of the central park of Amsterdam. Situated a short walk from the center it is filled with rose gardens, ponds and a few spots to get a beer.
The Netherlands is a progressive country and you only need to spend a few days to see that. Though the people are weird, their systems work because they seems to open accept change and evolve politically a lot quicker that many of the western super powers. Gay marriage is a thing of the past while our political leaders squabble over like children over a toy. On one hand giving a terminal patient a choice to end their life and on the other providing them with the healthcare they need. The legalization of certain drugs in the Netherlands proves that if you manage the situation correctly you can make a profit of it and still have streets safe. Though I cannot speak for the whole country because I have not lived and traveled all of it, I hold Amsterdam as an example that drugs are not necessarily a direct link to violence and corruption. It is about managing the situation and not fighting against the current. Use what you think is a weakness and turn it into a tool. Tax drugs and divert that money into rehabilitation clinics and drug awareness programs. The money you spent on the drug investigation teams can be used to hire street patrols and additional CCTV equipment to maintain the street. One of the biggest attractions to drugs as adolescence is the daring danger of it and the rebellion to society you take that away and its no worst than drinking but without the violence. Drugs have been around since the dawn of time and yet we still fight it like there will be an end to it. You cant win the war on drugs but buy legalizing it, controlling it and taxing it at least you will make some progress somewhere instead of banging your head against a wall.