Ah, Amsterdam – a city of infinite inspiration. A city of romantic canals and crepuscular red-lit streets, of curious contradictions, of people confident and tolerant and fit, of old and new. I mean where else in the world could you see within a matter of minutes from each other the original building that housed the Dutch West India Company (yes, that Dutch West India Company, you know, that explored and exploited much of the New World and founded New Amsterdam which became New York City) and the current world headquarters of Booking.com?
Amsterdam – a multi-cultural liberal stronghold atop ground that had it been left to its own devices would’ve been swallowed up by the sea. Kindergartens and churches sit comfortably adjacent to the Red Light District, and there is a vibe of very little worry or concern about it. It’s a city where if you are looking for something, you will find it. But there doesn’t seem to be any cultural neurosis or obsessing over it. People just are. They hustle and bustle, but in a laid-back manner. The inhabitants seem to share in a sense of solving problems in practical, efficient, scalable ways – whether it’s reclaiming land for growth and controlling the tides, creating bicycle paths to corral the traffic, or dealing with the darker sides of human nature. And while all of that is there if you look for it, it’s also a city of incomparable history, architecture, art and beauty.
It’s a city I envision myself returning to again and again as no single trip could ever do it justice. Continue reading