High on Amsterdam
Monday, April 16, 2007
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
“High” is the right word to describe Amsterdam…sort of like “Big” is to New York, “Easy” is to New Orleans and “Romantic” is to Paris. Amsterdam is “High.”
“High” on drugs or just on life, Amsterdam never looked more beautiful this past weekend, thanks to the warm, sunny, unseasonable weather and budding greenery.
Four-and-a-half hours on the Thalys “high” speed train took us to Amsterdam and back effortlessly from the Gare du Nord to the Centraal Station. The station acts as a pivot point from which the canals of Amsterdam radiate outward and circle to meet the Amstel River.
Upon arrival, many travelers to Amsterdam often “head straight” for the “Coffeeshops” where marijuana, hashish and other soft drugs are sold along with benign drinks — nothing much harder than beer as only few coffeeshops have an alcohol license. Whether you’re a “straight head” or a “pot head,” you won’t find it uncomfortable to light one up and get “high” among the assortment of young and old alike taking advantage of the freedom to enjoy recreational drugs in a non-threatening environment at any hour of the day. Barney’s on Haarlemmerstraat (running east-west on the north end of Amsterdam on the west side) at number 102 opens much earlier to serve a full English breakfast (7 a.m.) than its true café/restaurant counterpart at number 98. This particular coffeeshop gets a 9/10 rating and has won the “Cannabis Cup” several times.
For a fun excursion to learn more about Cannabis, its history and growing process, take a “trip” to the SensiSeed Bank and Hemp Museum at Oudezijds Achterburgwal number 148. Hydroponic plants are growing in a controlled environment and seeds of many different varieties are for sale.
The buildings in Amsterdam are high, too — much higher than they are wide. Centuries ago a tax was levied against the citizens of Amsterdam based upon the street frontage of their house. The wider the home, the more tax paid. “The crafty citizens of Amsterdam built houses that were very narrow in order to lessen their tax burden. The more affluent of Amsterdam’s old world citizenry showed off their wealth by building wide homes. This tax created a unique architecture that will appeal to your whimsical side.” (http://www.travelkraft.com/AMS.htm) Along with it come tall, steep staircases on which big feet and oversized suitcases will have trouble navigating. (Word to the wise: pack light.)
This is “high” season for tulips in Holland — bunches of 50 stems were selling for as little as 6€ at the Flower Market on the Singel. This is a Mecca for anyone in search of trees, shrubs, plants, flowers or herbs for the home, garden or balcony. Cut flowers and pot plants of every variety, even “high” palms as tall as a man, are offered for sale on the street and on the boats, the whole scene looking like a colorful garden.
This is your chance to taste-test one of the city’s best Indonesian restaurants just there facing the flower stands — The Sampurna on the Singel at number 498. No, “Indonesian” in not “Indian” and isn’t anything like it. Indonesian cuisine is as diverse as Indonesian culture, and reflects the vast variety of people that live on the 6,000 populated islands that make up Indonesia, however, the Indonesian Rice Table (or Rijsttafel) is a dining experience that is unique to the Netherlands. The Dutch, rather than the Indonesians, are responsible for the inventing it, which originated with the Dutch colonists in Indonesia, and grew from their enjoyment of sampling selectively from Indonesian cuisine. It has since become a landmark of “Dutch” cuisine and a “must do” when visiting Amsterdam. Watch out…the spiciness of some of the dishes may put you on a “high” for eating more, like it did for us! We couldn’t get enough.
Sitting “high” or “low” on the water on one of the Canal-Bus hop on/hop off tours is worth the “high” priced ticket (18€ for a day pass) to see Amsterdam from the water’s point of view. There are 3 routes and 13 stops at key spots where you can embark and disembark, based on the Canal-Bus schedule (fairly frequent) posted at each stop. It’s a great way to visit the main attractions.
One word of caution to visitors to the Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht at number 267, Amsterdam’s biggest if not “highest” attraction: get your tickets in advance, otherwise you’ll be one of many people queuing for hours to get in and will need to get “high” to overcome the stress.
A la prochaine…
P.S. I hope to see you next Saturday at La Pierre du Marais for “The Screenplay Pitch that Really Sells!” With Judith Merians, April 21, 2007, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and to reserve your spot, visit /frenchproperty/conference/ or email Judithmerians@aol.com
P.P.S. Last Minute Rental Special: Le Medieval Studio…take 1/3 off the rate (120€ per night) if you rent Le Medieval between now and April 29th!…visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/medieval.html or email Apartments@AdrianLeeds.com to book now!
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High on Amsterdam
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