Monday, April 16, 2007

the many colors of the netherlands

Windmills, cheese, clogs, tulips, bicycles, delicate delft pottery – these form a pretty wholesome and traditional mental picture of the Netherlands for most of us.

However, there is a side to this country that many may find incongruous with the said image: its liberal policies toward drugs, prostitution, same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia.

Such divergence also described our sightseeing in Amsterdam and its outskirts:

1. (Right) A trek to the colorful Keukenhof Tulip Gardens one day, then a trip to the Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp Museum the next.

2. A visit to the city's oldest church, Oude Kerk, followed by a stroll around the nearby red light district that showcases bikini-clad sex workers in glass windows.

3. Morning melancholy at the Anne Frank House, and a swinging evening at the trendy bars on Reguliersdwarsstraat.

It was a juxtaposition of opposing inclinations, a psychedelic mix of moods and colors – much like a sidewalk display of hallucinogenic mushroom postcards (left) – that reflected a progressively tolerant lifestyle.

During a taxi ride downtown, our Moroccan driver, after learning that we were tourists, asked us what we liked about Amsterdam the most. We couldn't give a singular answer right away, as Jun and I had different choices. We threw back the question at him instead, to which he quickly replied, 'The freedom, of course!'

Ah, yes. Too bad Anne Frank didn't live to see this day.

Shown at the top is the tri-colored Netherlands 'Flag' Be@rbrick from Series 9. I have created a special background for it based on the flag and some images I took at Keukenhof.

Postscript: Below is a 3D installation of Amsterdam's new slogan, 'i amsterdam', in the middle of Museumplein, the city's popular cultural district. It is a symbol of the people's pride, confidence, and optimism about the life, freedom, and opportunity in Amsterdam. I love it!


(Research from Wikipedia)

4 comments:

carol said...

Lovely photos! Give us a slide show when you come back, please, please? :-)

Juan Ariel Comia said...

Thanks, Carol! But I must warn you, there are 1600 pictures to see. :-)

iPoz said...

Amsterdam I consider my second home, thanks for he photos, I miss being there.

Juan Ariel Comia said...

You're welcome, iPoz. Amsterdam is easy to like especially because of the people. They were very friendly to tourists like us.