Amsterdam Wed 25/1/12

I experienced a Dutch breakfast today. I had no idea what it was beforehand, but was assured I would enjoy it. Too right! Initially I was served a jug of coffee and a hard-boiled egg but I knew there had to be more. And there was: three pieces of bread with the option of toast, two small pots of butter, a large bowl of strawberry jam, slices of ham and Dutch polony, slices of cheese of different varieties (yum!) and a glass of orange juice. To top it off, the ‘cook’ sat down for a chat about language, culture, education and World War II. A pretty heavy discussion for 8am! I was surprised to learn from our conversation that the Dutch newspapers recently reported on an Australian teacher who became pregnant to her 16 year old student. He (the cook) couldn’t see the problem with this situation so I hope he’s more enlightened following my explanation about age of consent and duty of care.

Upon check-out, the receptionist asked for my impression of Amsterdam. Well… there’s the matter of a negative first impression as I arrived in the city, but apparently the area surrounding the central station has been in need of upgrading for some time. While it’s a shambles at the moment, it’s for the long-term good. I’ll look forward to seeing it in the future as Amsterdam is a city I’d like to spend more time exploring. The stench of marijuana as one walks by a coffee shop in the evening, and the overwhelming presence of sex shops in the city centre, may be a little off-putting, but it’s a charming city with its canals, museums, squares and narrow streets. There is a sense of freedom and open-mindedness that can no doubt be attributed to the relaxed nature of the laws and lawmakers. Even obeying traffic signals appears to be somewhat optional!

Something I haven’t seen before: a user-pays security parking facility for bicycles. Again, look out for bikes and scooters as they fly at top speed across all surfaces including tram tracks.

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