In August 2010, Amsterdam’s 17th-century Canal Ring was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. ‘Sites are selected on the basis of having cultural, historical, scientific or some other form of significance, and they are legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO regards these sites as being important to the collective interests of humanity.’ But what about the heart and soul of Amsterdam!?
The identity of the Amsterdam culture is also determined by its residents. What really concerns me is that the balance between the amount of tourist and the residents of Amsterdam is really getting out of hand.
I developed an enormous allergy to a certain kind of tourist over the past few years. Some giveaways how to spot an obnoxious tourist. They wear ‘Amsterdam hats’, carrying Van Gogh Museum or Heineken gift boxes, wear their backpack in their front, ride and park their yellow rental MacBikes where ever they please, and get stoned and drunk all day, every day. Amsterdam is one of the biking capitals of the world and the Dutch are outstanding and experienced bikers. Unfortunately most tourist have never ridden a bike in their entire life and and therefore taking a ride of Doom on their rental bikes. Not to mention the pedestrians walking around like Amsterdam is as an open air museum, not paying attention to any kind of transportation.
The beer-bike tourists can be labeled as the most nuisance of all. Beer-bikes are huge pedal trucks for drinking party-crews. Aspecifically the kind that have decided their drunkenness would be even more awesome if broadcast to an entire city. This type of tourist like to show their appreciation for historic architecture mainly by urinating on it.
The presence of an overload of tourists in the city is an expense of the quality of life in neighborhoods, and it impacts the availability of affordable subsidised apartments. Amsterdam is overcrowded with tourists and forecasts show that this will only get worse.
Please do not rip out the heart and soul of my presious Amsterdam. -Bregje-
I am back home, as in back in Amsterdam, Holland. To my sorrow my trip to ‘The Big Apple’ has ended. Although seeing friends and family is nice.
Today I have lunch with one of my friends at the waterfront when a canal boat and a private boat bump into each other. To my opinion a captain of a small boat should know that bigger boat is less flexible. Not only because of their size, but also because of their ego’s. As I write this… Actually it might be the other way around. Men with small boats have bigger ego’s. Like men with big cars have small penises. Both captains get into a verbal fight. The passengers of the small boat seem to enjoy this verbal feud and start cheering like they are watching a game. The 10 passenger, all in their 60’s, are on day trip visiting ‘the big city’ of Amsterdam. You can tell they’re provincials by their accent, loud voices and way they behave. This sophisticated looking lady is clenching her fists like she is ready to fight. An also well dressed elderly man tries to lure out the other captain by provoking him to fight, meanwhile filming the scene.
Amsterdam gets a lot of tourist like this who miss behave themselves. Thinking in Amsterdam you can do whatever you want, because no body cares. I’ll bet they don’t act this way or would be amused if I would act the same way in their hometown. Not to mention the tourists who visit Amsterdam to drink or to get stoned.
Back to my story. As the captains were arguing, both boats are sailing in opposite directions. The cheering of passengers works like waving a red flag to a bull and the captain of the small boat jumps on the canal boat and runs upfront to the other captain. At that point we loose sight at the canal boat. I grap my phone and call 911. I tell the lady what just happened and point out the location of the incident. My hart is pounding. She ask me to describe the boat, the captain and the passengers. She tells me that a car is on it’s way, several calls came in on this incident. They might call me back as a witness Twenty minutes go by, the captain of the small boat has not returned jet. The so called sophisticated man, who before tried to drain the weasel, leaves the scene by foot and walks in the direction of the canal boat. After a while the older man returns to the boat and he takes over. He makes a turn with the boat and sails in the same direction as the canalboat. Meanwhile we see two policemen on the bridge. These men only know there was a crash between two boats. For my own safety I do not want the provincials to know that I called the cops. They ask me if they were aggressive as well. Maybe not aggressive but they sure adds fuel to the fire with their obnoxious behavior. One of the cops responds to me ‘what’s new!’ I go back to my friend. The boat with the ‘new’ captain, passes the cops.At the same time a boat of the water police department arrives at the scene. To my question if they have found the captain one of them respond ‘he just took off’. My friend and I leave the scene.
One hour and half later I have a call of the water police department. The cop, mr Stevens, wants to know if I am still at the scene. He would like me to describe the incident again, but since he is not able to write anything down, he will call me back later.
Seven thirty I get another call. The same guy. He asks me to describe what I’ve seen. I tell the whole story and he asks me some more details. Luckily the captain of the small boat came to his senses on time and left the boat. The cop thanks me for my input as a witness and that he has enough information on claim for damages. Outraged by his comment about the claim, I tell him that I called 911 because my concern of the safety of the captian. I don’t care about any claim. My tolerance is reaching its limit for sometime. Of course I am not talking about all provincials and tourists but a large part does not know how to behave like a guest. To my opinion these ‘guest’ ruin livability in Amsterdam. Mr. Stevens could not agree more. The police has to deal with this kind of visitors every day!
My respect to these men and women who join the police department. -Bregje-
There is no doubt if I am my moms daughter. I resemble her both in terms of appearance and in terms of character. One of the most significant similarities, I am proud of, is that we both are extremely curious, sympathetic to others and like to write.
There is one big difference between my mom and I. I refer myself as a philistine, cause I don’t read lots of books, I am not as interested in music, arts nor politics, compared to her. Visiting New York for my mom means spending as much time as possible on arti, musical and historical stuff. For her it’s unthinkable to ‘waist’ precious time while being in this big cultural city.
I am the opposite. During my holidays I do not like to be on a tide schedule and I rather blend in with the locals by having a nice conversation over a coffee than seeing all the high lights. I like to know what their life is all about and how they coop with curtain issues. For me to interact with locals makes my holiday so much more interesting instead of hanging around other tourist.
For example. The other day I did go to the MoMa. In a way, even though I am a grown up, I did not wanted to disappoint my mom. I have to admit I did like, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, the almost 700 snapshot-like portraits of Nan Goldin taken herself elsewhere in the late 1970s, 1980s, and beyond. I also liked ‘the mapping journey’ of Bouchra Khalili. A series of videos that details the stories of eight individuals who have been forced by political and economic circumstances to travel illegally.
But… most of my time I was fully distracted by the hordes of tourists taking their selfies in all kind of posses, probably to post on social media. Completely absorbed in their activity they had to be warned several times not to molest the art. As specially in the pop art section they were hard to ignore.
I wonder how many of these annoying tourist went just like me to the MoMa just because they were guided by their imposed values instead of doing what they really like.
Maybe I am not a philistine after all, just like my mom. We both share our cultural interest, only each in our own way.