Very few cars, lots of bikes, and a laid back quality that almost makes you forget that this place wreaks of marijuana and cigarette smoke. Although it is a very nice and relaxing city, Amsterdam has a culture of drugs and prostitution that runs rampant in its streets and sometimes carries over to the people. For those of you who don’t know, Amsterdam is the biggest city to legalize marijuana and prostitution (there’s even a prostitutes’ union here). The “coffee” shops aren’t really coffee shops.
I really enjoy it here though: the food’s wonderful, the people are generally nice, and the prices aren’t all that unreasonable. They even speak a little bit of English for the most part (rather than Flemish). I had an amazing steak sandwich for lunch yesterday and then Pad Thai for dinner. It was cool just walking around. The bikers here are agressive, and pedestrians don’t have the right of way, so everytime we hear the “ding-ding” from the bikes, we all literally jump to the side and hold on to the walls for dear life. The entire city is surrounded by canals that give the place an edge and a certain rustic feel. I’ve only eaten the food and seen some sights thus far in my half day here, but today we’re going on a biking tour (which should be interesting); and I plan on visiting the Anne Frank Museum, the Rembrandt Museum, and the Van Goh Museum among other things. It should be fun here in Amsterdam before we head off to Paris.
So, I’ve been struggling lately to find a place to go after the UCLA Travel Study program is over, but praise God that Daniel and I finally figured it out last night. We’re going to go to Florence, Italy and explore the sites there. It’s going to be an amazing adventure because neither of us knows what we’re doing, and neither of us knows how to speak Italian. But praise God nonetheless. I know the Lord will guide and protect us on our trip; as long as we’re smart about the things we do, we’ll be ok. As for Amsterdam, I feel like this is a spiritual battleground because there’s a lot of moral struggles that happen here. As students hear are struggling daily with the urge to go to a “coffee” shop just for the experience, and people are always asking me to go. I feel I can hold my own, but I’m worried for the others. Please pray for the students here and their consciences.
Aiite then, peace.