We’ve been in Amsterdam for just a day so far and are still a little time-zone fuzzy, but I am very impressed. What a friendly, tidy, and practical city! It reminds me of Copenhagen but with more canals and, if possible, more bicycles. Bicycles. They are everywhere, way outnumbering cars and pedestrians. And not your typical North American cycling – no helmets, no spandex, no multi-gear racing or mountain bikes. Just plain, functional two-wheel transportation- all with handles set so the riders sit upright, normal clothes, suits, dresses, children strapped into seats front and back, and all just gliding along without urgency or attitude.
Another observation – the people. Like the city they live in, they appear friendly, tidy, and practical. Not a lot of glitz, high fashion, fancy clothes or even make-up, but healthy, attractive and fit (must have something to do with all the biking).
Last night we ate a light meal at a canal-side bar and watched boat after boat glide by, each filled with groups having drinks and snacks. Like taking a stroll in the park after dinner but on a boat. No busy streets, no honking of horns, or roaring scooters (sorry Rome). Also, we felt safe. I imagine Amsterdam has its underbelly, but even strolling past the red light district, bars, and a multitude of shops selling every kind of cannabis product imaginable, we saw no rowdiness, intoxication, or a single panhandler.
It has been just one day, but I like this city. Tonight – dinner on a canal boat.