The Beautiful and the Dam

The thing about being on your own in a foreign city is that you miss out on the historic facts, trivia and nice to know things about a city.

I'd have to admit that the initial reasons why I decided to come to Amsterdam was that I was heavily intrigued by its adult Disneyland reputation {legal use of marijuana and prostitution} and its most number of museums per capita. Here I am, a girl living in the city made up if majority of Catholics but had a burgeoning HIV-rate, high crime rate, if not highest in Asia, increasing teenage and single parenthood.

Are those such bad things to be?

No {except for being a criminal}. But my stand is that we all do need to talk about sex, the fringes of it and how it affects one and the society. I wasn't going to interview people in Amsterdam but I was raring to be exposed to a society that normalized the use of marijuana and prostitution.

Was everything right in their world? I'd say yes.

At least majority of it. Amsterdam remains to have one of the highest GDP in all of Europe, ranks high in quality of life. I was just thinking that maybe, being open to things does make a difference. I find it inevitable to compare home whenever we go abroad. I find that it makes me sound like an ungrateful person, but what hurts is often true. A spade is a spade, after all.

My travel director from the Germany trip did say there's more to Amsterdam than what people know it for, and I agree. The city is lovely. It rained a bit, then the sun shone and then the rain fell again. Its transportation system is amazing, and art is everywhere. In the city central stands a gigantic bibliotheque where you can find any title you can think of, in any language you can think of. People speak English, are helpful and tourist-friendly.

Amsterdam is a lady, that much I can tell, unlike Berlin, which was a man city. It's an art major who curates paintings for a gallery in an anorak sweater, bakes bread every morning, and bikes her way to night school. She's a hipster at heart though she will never admit it, fiercely fun for taking a drag every now and then. She has a wild side and you know it but she will never tell.

My curiosity for Amsterdam intensified as I came to see how this city {maybe even country} was so attached to education. In the city where the Amsterdam Centraal Station is, a huge building stands and towers over the rest. A friend's friend offered to show me around the city and she introduced me to Amsterdam's National Public Library, where one can find all the titles you can think of in any language possible. When I came in, I met a humongous display of a dollhouse, a playground for the kids and all the titles one can think of, literally. I had gotten a kick of most of Amsterdam's libraries and bookstores that when I think about it now, I did spend a lot of time there and at the American Book Centre in Spui. It was my first time to meet Wes Anderson's hardcovers {which I could've bought if I bought the luggages I was eyeing hehe}, Banksy's, Alexa Chung's and all the design books I have been dreaming of lately. There was something in the way they curated the books --- such that there was no book that was ugly in that shop. Everything stood out in its own way.

Desire for knowledge have begun in the 12th century, or maybe even earlier, as evidenced by this library from the 1100s

More importantly, the city loved art. This is evidenced by how everything is tastefully done in art, such as their airport {where there's a Rijksmuseum and a small library, too}, their tram ways, the buildings, their maps, the people, the shops, the city in itself is just a work of art.

I guess it would've been inevitable since Vincent Van Gogh lived in the Netherlands before moving to Paris. 

My guess is that as a city, this was what Amsterdam followed for advice. 

So nice to meet you, Amsterdam. See you soon :)
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