When in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a strange and wonderful city. It’s a juxtaposition of dark and light. It’s vibrant and torpid and chaotic and organized and clean and seedy. But it’s all of these things because it’s transparent. You can decide what you want to see. On one street, crimson lights line the windows and illuminate moving pictures of apathetic prostitutes. Framed within these square dens of predetermined pleasure are bored faces and bare bodies, texting on iPhones. A few steps more and you are walking along a glistening, sun-soaked canal. This time the light is pure and delicate, and its golden glow falls on the water in a way that’s just right.

When in Amsterdam, you’re supposed to party. But you might end up just sipping hot chocolate and taking way too many free cheese samples. You might just start talking to the nut guy for half an hour about America, realizing you have common views on how terrifying the NYPD is and how bewildering is the motivation for wanting to live in Midwest. You may find yourself renting a bike to blend in and stopping often to enjoy the scenery, exhaling deeply while sitting on a bench somewhere.

Amsterdam understands the little things, the simple pleasures, and they are all around you here. Whether they are temptations, prerogatives, or indulgences is your decision, in one of the few places where peacefulness and vice coexist in their own reality.

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View of the canal at sunset.

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A biker traversing the busy streets in the city centre, near Rembrandt Square.

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Bikes are the dominant form of transportation in Amsterdam and they flank every road along the canals.

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Amsterdam’s architecture is marked by narrow houses overlooking the canal. During the city’s Golden Age, housing taxes depended on the width of the house. Therefore, to avoid getting taxed, the clever Dutch built their houses vertically instead of horizontally. This sneaky strategy is also the reason for the extremely steep and narrow staircases that we encountered all too often.

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View of the canal.

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Bars and buildings near Rembrandt Square.

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A selection of fruits and cheeses outside one of Amsterdam’s mini-markets.

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Gouda galore. This stuff was everywhere.

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View of bright buildings and docked boats on the canal.

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View of lovely Amsterdam.

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Quiet violinist at sunset.

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Waag van Amsterdam.

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Brannon skating at Nieuwmarkt.

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A captivated passerby.

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Me confusing people.

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Amsterdam lights at night.

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Amsterdam lights at night.

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Busy streets before sunset.

 

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So where does the Atlanta music promoter book us a hotel in Amsterdam? Hotel Atlanta.

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A masked villain of the night.

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Brannon wallriding at night.

 

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