Clubbing in the Dam.
Amsterdam’s reputation as a city to party in, was well deserved.
The main areas for clubbing being Rembrantplein and Leidseplein although other areas for clubbing are now scattered throughout the city, including in and around the Red Light District.
Filming is forbidden in this district which might explain a hooligan element with relative freedom to concentrate their attentions on the odd bar here or there to offer a most unnecessary welcome committee.
Recent events of course have highlighted the term clubbing in an altogether different fashion, a term surely to damage the bustling tourist industry for which it was known.
The city had enjoyed tourists from across the globe whether they be visiting on the stag event or simply enjoying an opportunity to indulge in the coffee shop trade or indeed a vibrating sex industry. They did indeed know how to get the most from those assets.
With theatres, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, casino, live entertainment and cultural and music centres, the city appeared worthy of a visit.
The above being relatively safe havens for a time perhaps.
Until recently Amsterdam was a city conducive to walking, unless of course you might happen to be a certain type of football supporter, then running or cowering from club wielding officials hell-bent on spoiling the party atmosphere could be the order of the day or night.
Most major sites are located in or near the city center, should you manage to catch your breath if one were lucky enough to avoid a sound beating or charging horse along the way .
Should you risk it, public transportation is excellent but driving is discouraged within the canal ring, biking you see is the preferred Dutch way to travel.
Now some say the only way to truly experience the city, is to get on yer bike as fast as you can and get the hell out of there.
The Dam is the very centre and heart of Amsterdam, although there are arguably prettier sights in the city, the police cells not being any of them I’m told.
As a historical site however, it is fascinating and worth taking the time to appreciate should you succeed in avoiding the obvious dangers from now noticeable thuggery.
The Dam has seen many historical dramas unfold over the years, and was for example, the reception area for Napoleon and his troops during the 1808 take-over of the city. But not that night Josephine !.
The impressive history of the square is well documented in the Amsterdam Historical Museum and one or two recent additions to that history are even now unfolding.
The Royal Palace which dominates the square, was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city of Amsterdam and its government.
Although as friendly football supporters cowered in doorways or were dragged across the square whilst being set upon by vicious dogs and their handlers, I don’t imagine many noticed that fine scenery to be fair.
In contrast to its turbulent history, the square was a peaceful place ( take your chin off the floor) and was home to hundreds of pigeons and tourists resting their tired feet.
At least the pigeons could fly away to safety as a lot of feet didn’t manage to touch the ground.
One could of course see a completely different kind of ‘peaceful’ place, simply by visiting you tube or any Celtic site should one indeed wish to rest one’s feet before even considering feeding those pigeons with the bread of human sacrifice.
You see, contrary to what the Amsterdam brochures depict as a welcoming and embracing spot to relax or enjoy, the reality for some (quite a lot actually) is quite startling in difference.
To visit the city on a footballing experience has offered an entirely different view of what is on offer.
Plain clothed Militia in vigilante guise, mounted assailants in audition mode for what could be described as a Dutch version of the charge of the light brigade, could be found finding you with ease, especially if you stood out from the crowd with the colours of green on.
Vicious canines provoked into maul function by over zealous and equally as vicious handlers, create quite the spectacle for the curious tourist lucky enough thus far to be unnoticed or watching from afar in say, a boat. Relative safety on the water your best bet it might appear.
So far I haven’t heard mention of plain clothed snorkel squads propelled in to snatch sightseers, but I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s compensation on offer you see.
So then after the hopeful trip of a lifetime the weekend jaunt or indeed a football event, don’t be surprised if you end up in court shell-shocked and beaten charged with being the victim of assault. Resistance you see is not only futile but frowned upon.
Don’t be surprised either when despite evidence to the contrary the word of the attackers will supersede your finer senses of justice or fair hearing, for you might most definitely find yourself up the canal without a paddle. Shit creek as we know it.
My advice would be to steer well clear of the Amsterdam attractions for the distractions could be far greater and rather more costly.
I for one can think of better places to visit before I pop my clogs.