The Dutch are a fun loving relaxed bunch. They are generally some form of blonde and relatively tall. They are well cultured speak a variety of languages and are generally well educated. People have mixed feelings about the Dutch people’s friendliness, but I found them to be very friendly and helpful.
Amsterdam, the capital and most populous city in the Netherlands, known for legal weed, prostitutes, and house music is a very open minded and fun city. It is also sinking and if not for their elaborate canal system would be underwater. Taking a gondola down its gorgeous canals and partaking in one of the many legal mind altering substances can be both psychedelic and romantic at the same time. However, being an old city with lots of history it also has more to offer than fun pursuing your vices that are illegal elsewhere.
Interesting Tidbit: Heineken one of the world’s most popular beers originated in Amsterdam over 150 years ago.
Population: 844,667 (municipality), 1,343,647 (urban area)
Size: 219.32 km2 (53.56 km2 of water) for comparison Greater London is 1,572 km2
Bodies of Water: Amstel River and North Sea
Climate: Moderate, Rainy/Drizzling, Not Humid
Autumn/Winter Temperature: (Oct-Mar) High 30s to low 40s (0-4 C)
Spring/Summer Temperature: (Apr-Sep) Low 50s (11 C)
Conversion Rate: EUR to USD is typically between 1.1 and 1.
Vibe: Relaxed, Open minded, fun with a bunch of culture sprinkled in.
Music: The younger crowd enjoys house and electronic music as well as popular American music especially hip hop and R&B.
Food: They make really good sandwiches, weird that they eat their fries (chips) with mayonnaise though. There is also more traditional Dutch food which depending on your taste buds will be hit or miss.
Arts and History: Extensive and Interesting, check out the Museums, take a brewery tour, and for sure go on a gondola tour.
Cost of Food and Drink: A meal will cost about 12 EUR not including a drink. Drinks cost between 7-12 EUR
Cost of Hotel: Amsterdam is relatively expensive and a hostel will cost between 25-40 EUR a night depending on day and season.
Walkability of Sights: Amsterdam is incredibly walkable; however, the Museum District is a little bit separated from the Red Light District.
Public Transportation: Simple to use and takes cash on board. Rides typically cost about 3 EUR
Sights and Activities
Red Light District (de Wallen) – free to walk around and if you fancy there are plenty of sex shows and other adult entertainment
“Coffee” Shops/Smart Shops – the marijuana and magic mushrooms are legal and they claim to be the best in the world. Definitely worth at least stepping in to see what all the fuss is about. The coffee aint bad either.
Gondola Tour – There are various companies that give tours of the city via the canals. It is a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon and go through the extensive history of Amsterdam.
Museum Quarter – It would be a shame to not visit the cultural wealth the Netherlands has accumulated. The museum quarter is home to most of their museums including the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum is obviously the main attraction a converted castle that houses numerous Rembrandts and other treasures it is the must see museum. It does however cost 17.50 EUR to enter.
The Van Gogh Museum is also a really cool museum that celebrates on of the Dutch’s most famous painters. It explores Van Gogh’s life by his works and is really a wonderful museum especially for fans of the impressionist.
Leidseplein – Home to the world renowned clubs of Amsterdam that host the best and most famous DJs in the world. This would be a good place to start. Droves of young people come here from Thursday to Sunday night and the weekdays aren’t bad either. If you like house, EDM, and on some days Hip Hop and R&B there aren’t too many places in the world better than this square.
Red Light District (de Wallen) – There are a few bars and clubs in the Red Light District that aren’t sex oriented; however, this is also the most touristy part of Amsterdam and as such there are a lot of tourists and less locals.
Pub Crawls – There are few pub crawls that take you through a few of the cities, bars and clubs. They can be a good way to meet other fellow travelers and get a feel for the city before you decide to break off and do your own thing. Ultimate Party Pub Crawls has one in the Red Light District and Leidseplein.
Politics and Economy
Median Income PPP: $38,584 USD
Disposable Income: $27,759 USD, OECD average $29,016
Minimum Wage: 8,70 EUR/ hr for full time work
Poverty Level: 14% 2.5 million out of 17 million people
Diversity: 78.6% Dutch, 5.8% EU other, Others from north Africa and Asia
Political Spectrum: Left/Liberal
Medical Care: Hospitals and insurance companies are private. The government is responsible for accessibility and quality of the health care system, but not its management. Insurance is mandatory and long-term nursing and care is funded by the government. Basic insurance or common medical care is provided by insurance companies, but with a universal package for everyone over the edge of 18 the cost is determined by income.
The Netherlands consistently rates near the top of the EU in healthcare.
Social Policy: Social Security for retirees, generous childcare and maternal leave polices, subsidies for rent, unemployment, and medical care.
Education: University is relatively cheap only 1700 EUR for EU students and admissions are easier than other countries including neighboring Germany attracting many foreign students.