A Tolerant Tour Below Sea Level

“God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland”

With more canals than any other city (take that Venice) Amsterdam is filled with bridges and bikes, and lined with “coffee shops” and hookers. But as my tour guide pointed out, what makes Amsterdam one of the crowning jewels of Europe, if not the world, is summed up in one word: tolerance. There may be no other country in the world more tolerant than Holland. I believe it’s a very admirable trait for a culture/nation-state to hold and I respect them deeply for it.

Now, I’m not normally a tour kind of guy, but in the case of Amsterdam I made an exception because my hostel, the Flying Pig, was advertising a free 3-hour walking tour. With the weather being unseasonably nice the tour was a great time with our tour guide David whisking us around the city showing us some of the more exciting places and explaining the history behind them. I mentioned it was a “free” tour but seeing as nothing in this world is truly free, we were informed that at the end of the tour our guide would humbly be accepting tips for whatever we felt his efforts were worth.

Beautiful canal

He also offered to take those with a bit of time on their hands to grab some food and/or drink. I had time and was hungry so I took him up on the offer and after he collected his money from the tour manager we headed off to a small pub where I had a delicious potato leak soup with toast. Not only was the food good but also cheap and located almost across from the train station. This is why tour guides can be very helpful. David eventually had to run off to do another tour but another tour guide, Michael, was there and said he’d be doing the night Red Light District tour later in the day. Sounded like a good idea to me so after going back to the hostel for a shower I met up for the second tour of the day. The Red Light District.

-Phil

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