A-Dam Final Thoughts / Croatia

Although the nightlife in Amsterdam leaves a lot to be desired, I have to give the city credit in the ‘interesting’ category.

For starters, the canals, which the city is riddled with, are very neat. They really give the city character…. Even moreso, however, are the floating vehicles which populate the canals. Whether it be bicycles or boats, it is quite clear, that Amsterdamians do not subscribe to the bling lifestyle… in other words, no one feels the need to buy or own show-off style modes of transportation… in fact, it almost seems the opposite. In A-Dam, the older and crappier the boat or bicycle you have, the better, it seems.

Most of the boats which revelers seem to be floating along the canals wouldn’t pass any sort of safety exam, much less beauty contest… 9 out of every 10 boats are multi-decade old contraptions which surprisingly float, if anything… and bicycles are much the same. Most bicycles in the city are decades old… I was fortunate to have a friend who had recently moved to the city meet me… she had actually owned a relatively new bicycle at first, but it was quickly stolen, which is probably the biggest reason why everyone, and I mean everyone, rides soviet-era museum piece two-wheelers.

It was cool to live like a local for one-night… I met my friend for dinner and then I doubled her on her bike to a café where we bought a marijuana joint and enjoyed a few puffs…. Then we proceeded to bar-crawl on the bike… the bicycle itself was almost un-ride-able… it felt as though the tires were square… instead of gliding along it felt like I was pushing the bike through wet cement…. But it was neat nonetheless…. As the great majority of denizens of the city also employ similar modes of transport.

In the end, however, the lifestyle of this region does not suit my personality… if I had to pick a European style that most fits me, I’d say the Spanish style, with their late evening dinners and laid back attitude is more my style. The Netherlands lifestyle of pancakes, no-sun (ie. pasty), coffee shop sitting, straight laced (most Netherlanders don’t partake in things such as marijuana, despite its legality… the average person there is very low-key… the great majority of people in weed-cafes are tourists) veirdness is definitely not natural for me… but it was interesting to see.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say on the city… it seems to attract a plethora of hippy/skater looking lowlifes who seem to think its free lifestyle is the cats meow… which makes for quite an eclectic vibe…. But I had numerous people be very rude to me, from a girl on her bicycle who informed me to, “get the f*** out of the way’, even though I was on the sidewalk and not greatly impeding her progress, to the McDonalds staffmember who greeted me with a, “wuddya want� and a scowl… as usual, it left me yearning for Asia, where it is quite the opposite.

But, as I said, it was an experience, and for that reason, I am glad I went.

CROATIA

I knew nothing about Croatia, other than hearing good things about it from a number of people, prior to my arrival. As background, Croatia, and all the neighboring states in the region (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzgovena, Albania etc) were all part of what was called Yugoslavia from 1918-1991… From 1991-2001 there was a terrible civil war in which each ethnic group tried to cleanse each other… it is very interesting to see how in most towns in Croatia, half of the homes are destroyed (via fire mostly, from molotov cocktail type devices) where, up until just a few years ago, people like Croatians would attack and kill Serbs in their homes.

That ugly period has passed and you would have thought it was a century ago, for it seems eminently peaceful and calm today.

Croatia is proof that even if humans make the worst of things, new life springs eternal… much of Croatia is modern, polished and new, thanks to the manual destruction of much of its material property over the last few decades… the nightlife is massively vibrant, with towns such as Zadar, with a population of a few hundred thousand having nightclubs that play host to 5,000+.

The girls, in general, are beautiful. The lifestyle is laid back and enjoyable. Of all the places I have been in Europe, East or West, Croatia is definitely one of the most livable countries, for my taste.

The weather in summer is great, but in the winter it gets very chilly here, which takes it off my list of possible semi-settling-down locations… but if my first few days are any indication, I would have no problem visiting this region every summer.

I have only been here for 3 days so far, all spent in a town about 1.5 hours north of Split, called Zadar, because I had a friend who lives here. Today I am going to go to Split for a few days… after that I am not sure, maybe Bulgaria… but I am sure I will have more comments on Croatia before I am done.