Amsterdam in August 2008

As you leave Germany and move further into the Netherlands, you observe how the golden landscape of wheat fields gives way to the green hues of meadows and pastures.

“Welcome to the most tolerant city on the planet, Amsterdam,” begins the tour guide, starting their excursion with these words.

The first thing worth acquiring in Amsterdam is, of course, as everyone might have already guessed without a doubt, a high-quality Dutch bicycle.

There is nothing to do here without a bicycle. It is the primary mode of transportation. Cyclists have the highest rights when it comes to movement, surpassing not only vehicles but also pedestrians. Bicycle lanes crisscross the entire city, at times taking up a significant portion of the road or even occupying it entirely.

There are indeed a lot of bicycles here.

No, seriously, a lot.

No jokes, a lot!

Almost every resident of Amsterdam, including centenarian elders and three-year-old toddlers who have barely learned to walk, has a bicycle, more or less. However, it’s not just bicycles alone.

The main language in the country is Dutch, but for those who know English, there won’t be any problems: around 90% of the population speaks it fluently. Russian doesn’t go as smoothly, but there are people who know it.

Amsterdam is located on the Amstel River and near the North Sea, which is why the city is adorned with canals to such an extent that it easily surpasses St. Petersburg. The canals here come in various forms: from wide ones where boats and ships easily find their place, to narrow ones that are often used for draining waste from public houses located along the shore. The moored boats, in many cases, serve as someone’s floating homes.

Amsterdam boasts stunning architecture. The façades of the houses, like paintings, are made taller than the sides and protrude above the roofline, creating an illusion of the entire house being flat.

But you can also come across something familiar and shapeless.

The station from outside.

And inside.

Many well-known companies have their offices in Amsterdam.

Quaint lampposts line the main street of the city.

And there is also a neat row of flags with a rainbow ribbon.

No one in the most tolerant city on the planet is ashamed of sexual minorities.

The majority, however, is also not ashamed.

Such establishments are located in many parts of the city, not only in the famous Red Light District. The district itself is adorned with much more elaborate things.

However, it is difficult and risky to photograph more elaborate things: there is a risk of being splashed with waste and returning home with a broken camera.

As for the high-quality Dutch weed, it indeed becomes apparent from the first minutes of being in the city. And once you turn from the coastal roads into narrow streets, Amsterdam unexpectedly transforms into a scene from the movie “Don’t Threaten the South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.” Here, it’s easy to come across a dreadlocked black person sitting on a basement roof or a van passing by blaring reggae music with a familiar aroma wafting from its windows.