Amsterdam

Song of the Post

One Day at a Time – Sam Smith

 

Amsterdam

  • Coffee Shop
  • Van Gogh Museum & Museumplein
  • Vondelpark

One thing I do regret about this trip is how ambitious I was. I only had about 1.5 days in Amsterdam, Heidelberg, Geneva and Nice which for some was enough, and some, it was not. Therefore,  the listed countries above will be summarized individually in one post!

But Amsterdam – wow.

How beautiful this city is. How clean and friendly the streets are! Obviously, like all cities, there are less fortunate parts of the city but from what I’ve seen, it’s quite incredible.

Similar to Paris with the architectural consistency but the buildings seem brighter and more colourful than Paris. Obviously, different countries, different cities, different cultures but it’s fascinating to see the overlap and differences of European countries. Sharing borders and the crossover of people and history, it’s one big continent of vastly different but similar united nations.

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Oodles of doodles on the train from Brussels to Amsterdam

Coffee Shop

No, not the one where you drink coffee and go on awkward Tinder dates or try to look impressive in front of a potential client or boss. The weed one.

The decriminalization of drugs is a world-wide known fact of the Netherlands. Because of this, “coffee shops” are legal and safe places to purchase soft drugs (marijuana, mushrooms etc.). Once arriving in Amsterdam, my hostel had a coffee shop tour where we went to a shop near by and experienced what it’s like to be in one of these establishments. We visited this wonderful place called Roots. Located very close to where I stayed and by the Bijlmer Arena.

Because of privacy, I did not take any photos but as you can imagine, it looks like a coffee shop but instead of the tables being out by the front, the counter is at the front and through the back are the seats. It’s a well-ventilated area that’s completely closed off and only accessible if you purchase something from the store.

Because I arrived on a Friday, Friday night lines were no joke in this coffee shop. I waited in line for about 20 minutes before it was my turn. With the hostel tour group, we bought a few pre-rolled joints and about a gram worth of flowers and went about our way experiencing a true Dutch cannabis experience.

It is very much an accepted concept and activity here in Amsterdam. It seems to be a social thing but also a solo activity that many Amsterdam locals take part in. It literally just had the same vibe as having coffee in a literal coffee shop. No stigma, no weird backdoor entrances and black market substances. I mean…cannabis and coffee beans are initially green?

Van Gogh Museum & Museumplein

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Van Gogh’s Dream Exhibition

The museum was relatively small and took about an hour to get around. No photos were allowed, so with the great respect I have for the artist, I did not take any.

Some of the quotes by Van Gogh that stuck around me:

“Instead of trying to render exactly what I have before my eyes, I use colour in order to express myself forcefully”

“More than ever I have a pent up fury for work, and I think that this will contribute to curing me”

“It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly coloured than the day”

Every since I knew how to appreciate art, I was always drawn to Van Gogh. And as mainstream as he became, something his paintings calmed me. It was like being alone with someone. We were together knowingly or not, but each painting made it seem like I had the whole world facing me. I wasn’t quite part of it but more of a watcher of the world. Like it was moving without me. And to have that objective anonymity, it was rather quite relaxing.

Taking a man’s suffering and calling it art. We have the ability to move on from the suffering because there is something worth moving on towards. Van Gogh didn’t.

I don’t romanticize the melancholiness that has been trending in the last few years. His wanting to belong, be at peace with the moment never became part of him until we gave him that concord between his soul and existence. Liking or admiring Van Gogh for his depression, mania, and anxiety; they are remembering him for the wrong reasons. His mental health fuelled his creations but to give pity celebrity and attention is depreciating the strength and brilliance to preserve his passion.

If he knew the amount of love and inspiration he has given to the people to this day, how happy would he be? Would this be something he would have wanted? I’d like to imagine that his reaction would be similar to this. He wanted his work to move some people but he moved generations of art and the world.

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Museumplein

Vondelpark

After the museum, I strolled mindlessly (with a little help of google) and ended up at Vondelpark. It was quite a cold day and despite the grey, fall-like weather, many locals gathered at the park with each other and were scattered across the park. Bikers rode up and down the walkways and the distant murmuring traffic melted with the chattering Dutch language.

I sat on a bench and I’m not kidding – my feet were at least 15cm above ground when sitting upright against the back of the bench. After some “worthwhile” minutes, I took a sort of successful photo on the struggles of being a 5’2 woman sitting on a bench made for beautiful tall people.

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A photographic capture of the struggle of being short

I sat for about 2 hours and watched people extensively while gathering my senses to be mindful of the moments. There wasn’t much other than very green grass, trees and shrubbery. Flowers may have existed on the other side of the park but from my view, a simple pond, ducks, bikers, locals and accompanied dogs were roaming in and out.

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Vondelpark

In my meditative state of immersing myself in the present, I can’t describe every inch of what my mind was going through during the few hours of being in this park. I guess that would defeat the purpose of mindfulness if my mind was awake and busy enough for me to remember exactly what it was going through.

So, I’ll let you imagine the experience for yourself.

Closing Thoughts

My next visit to Amsterdam will be much more thorough. I would visit Anne Frank’s house, Dam Square, the Royal Palace etc.; but, even for a taste, Amsterdam was delicious. Not the cheapest option for travelling Europe, and not the warmest (temperature wise)!

And as I am and always have been, I will be completely honest. I loved Amsterdam, but it didn’t take my heart. I left a piece of my heart there for sure as an anchor to come back to; however, I think because of the little time I had, it didn’t leave a deep enough impression on me. Also, because I was still getting used to travelling place to place alone, the anxiety and stress from it dampened my ability to fully enjoy the city from the start to finish. It is quite exhausting having to travel all day by foot and train to get to different countries despite how well connected everything is!

So, for me, and for you – tip of the post is to give yourself at least 2 full days in a city! And maybe pack lighter. I wore almost everything but could have left a few things out.

x

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