Top 10 Amsterdam


We interrupt this Canadian vacation summary for a brief update on the top 10 (new) observations of Amsterdam:

1) Dutch kids need to be tased. Now, for those of you who are familiar with my earlier posts from over a year ago, you may recall my disdain for the way Dutch kids behave (or don't) in public. This has not abated.

It's not uncommon to see a mop-haired kid anywhere from 3 to 10 years old running full-tilt, screaming like a hyena in a grocery store, down a busy escalator, down the aisle of an airplane, in a coffee shop (the normal kind) or in an airport gate area. It's equally uncommon to see their parents make even half an effort to restrain them.

Mom is oblivious to the discomfort of the other people around, and Dad is inciting them to greater and greater heights of ecstatic annoyance by playing along. Actually, let's make it tasers all around, a family tasing.

2) Dutch weather in July is about as confusing as a hot transvestite. 15 minutes takes you from searing sunshine to the North Sea being dumped on one's head. Winter may bite in Canada, but summer is summer for the most part. Not so in Nederland.

3) The newest discovery: the Sky Lounge at Mint Hotel, steps from Centraal Station. The 11th floor restaurant/lounge/terrace has the best views of all of Amsterdam and some parts north of the city, all within a cool, loungey vibe.

4) Much is made of the supposed indifference and coldness of the locals, but in any given neighbourhood you're much more likely to say hello and have a chat with a person on the sidewalk than you are to get the brush-off. Even more so if you step outside the expat bubble and make an effort to speak a little Dutch.

5) Being a regular really counts. The other day I ordered my customary doner sandwich at Grillroom Sefa (bread on the side, extra veggies) and ran to the bank machine next door. I came back to have it already on my usual table by the window, hot and ready.

6) Incidentally, "by the window, hot and ready" is still what brings many tourists here. Despite the desire of the city officials to phase out the red light areas, a recent stroll through the area (yes, a stroll - one doesn't saunter, wander, or amble here) to show an innocent out-of-towner what it's all about (yes, she was slightly horrified) confirmed the truth: sex still sells.

8) OK, so it's a top 7 for now. But 3 more things are sure to pop up soon...