Amsterdam: Valiant, Steadfast, Compassionate

‘Hedhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig’ is the motto of the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It means ‘Valiant, Steadfast, Compassionate’. It dates back to March 29, 1947. On that date Queen Wilhelmina [31 August 1880 – 28 November 1962] presented the motto as part of the city arms. She thereby meant to honor the people of Amsterdam, who were the first Europeans to oppose the Nazi persection of the Jewish population.

Amsterdam is a wonderful city, clean for the most part, with a very intense nightlife, great people, lots of things to do. Most tourists come to Amsterdam thinking of visiting the Red Light District and getting stoned and/or drunk. That is unfortunate because the city has a lot more, and a lot better, to offer.

Most people that come to Amsterdam want to start at the red light district. This is the place where girls sit behind windows waiting for a customer. Most of the red light district is behind the dam square in the place called The Wallen. Just walk along the Oudezijds voorburgwal and take the sidestreets, can’t miss the place because this is where most of the tourists are. Many rooms are now vacant during the day but at night you should have more choice. There are a couple of other places too, like the end of the Ruysdaelkade (for which you need to take the tram) and Bergstraat, oude nieuwstraat and surroundings (these are also in the city centre and you can walk it from Dam Square)

If you are one of those people very sensitive to weed, and if you can get stoned just by someone smoking nearby, then you will be stoned all the time in Amsterdam because people smoke everywhere. On the streets, riding their bicycles, at the bars and parks.

Observe carefully the bike paths. There are 800 thousand people in Amsterdam. These people own 800 thousand bikes, and 900 thousand locks. The place is literally loaded with bikes everywhere. And they ride those bikes very fast! Pay attention to where you walk or it will be a painful experience. There are also crotch-high poles everywhere.

Motorcycles can be parked on the sidewalks. Very little cars can be parked on sidewalks. And 800 thousand bikes can be parked on the sidewalks… So imagine that there is not much space left for pedestrians in some places.

Drinking in public is, to some point, illegal. But they don’t enforce it at all. Just be discreet and don’t do something really stupid, like being run over by a speeding bicycle while drinking your beer and smoking your joint on the street. Oh yes, smoking weed in public is also illegal, but you will see it (or smell it) everywhere.

Some of the buildings are incredibly old and most of them lean one way of another, and a bunch of them are visibly crooked. That creates a visual architectural show that I will never forget. What a beautiful place!

Here you can see some pictures, most of them taken in Amsterdam.