Wrestling with feelings of inadequacy in Netherlands

     I’m like a broken record when it comes to how I feel about the Netherlands: I’m always surprised by how progressive it is and therefore, how backward I must be because I have this surprise. There are so many issues where they have taken the lead: gay marriage, euthanasia, age of consent, legalization of drugs, prostitution, abortion, flopping soccer players—the Dutch are showing the way. In at least one instance, prostitution, I read that there has been a rethink about the effectiveness of the controlled red light districts, but the point is that the Dutch are at least trying something where most everyone else is burying their heads in the sand.
     I have a foreign friend living here who says learning to speak Dutch is a waste of time and he doesn’t even bother asking people if they know English; he just starts with it. I was thinking that might be a little rude, but I found over and over that when I asked, “Do you speak English?” I got a haughty, “Of course!”
     OK, relax, Ubermensch, I get it. You can do it all.

for weed

     Seen in Vondelpark, Amsterdam. I’m ready to go into rehab from all the second hand marijuana smoke I have inhaled.

dutch poster

     Take that, you prudes!

dutch cookies

     White chocolate and date cookies, plain evidence that my bachelorhood is the mystery of the century.

i am amsterdam

     Hanging out with friends by the iconic “I am amsterdam” sign.

playground king

     It took longer than I thought to fight off the kids for one of the big tricycles.

twerking deer

     I overheard one little girl say to another, “This is a deer twerking.”


     I like Nijntje, what can I say? In Japan she is known as Miffy.

Semi-practical information
     Netherlands is so progressive that it can be bad for travelers passing through. Since two weeks ago all train stations sell single tickets with chips in them, and if you don’t have a prepaid OV chipkaart travel card, then you must pay a one euro fee every single time you want to buy a ticket to go anywhere. The OV chipkaart costs 7.50 euros empty(!) and if you want a refund you have to find the right place that will accept it and you lose 2.50 euros in admin fees. Not a big fan.
     BlaBlaCar is becoming more and more popular for rideshare in Europe, spreading out and away from it’s French-speaking roots. I’ve used it maybe five times in the last few years. Big fan. It’s moving to other continents, too.
     Why don’t you stay with me? You can follow along with RSS, subscribe to an email feed, see what’s cooking on Facebook, pray that I’ll say something worth remembering on Twitter and if you are really slumming it, there’s always Google+ where we will follow each other for eternity, I promise.

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Wrestling with feelings of inadequacy in Netherlands — 12 Comments

  1. Second hand smoke… Sure…

    I’m back in the Bay Area! Come see me when you get home.

  2. I’m in Amsterdam wight now until Thursday. It’s not the easiest city to find a place to people watch and when it rains walking is pretty damp since everything is vertical with no cover. Nice city for a short stay. I found a lintel statue that looks like Christopher Walken’s face. And the way the buildings breathe and lean into each other makes the whole thing even more surreal. I’m of two minds about it here. It’s definitely easier on the eyes at night.
    I’ve heard very little Dutch spoken here. English seems to be the main language. I still make a point of please and thank yous, though.

  3. I just missed you!
    It is a funny thing that those buildings have nowhere to hide under when it rains.
    In good weather Vondelpark is nice for people watching.
    What happens in AMS stays in AMS!

  4. You bake cookies and ride tricycles with ease? Why have you not been scooped up yet?

  5. You go to the Netherlands like, what, three times a year? Just buy an OV and hang on to it till your next visit!

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