I used the term “den of iniquity” quite a lot while in Amsterdam, which was odd. Not because it isn’t one, more because it is one but not in the places we were while I was using the term. And what came as a mild surprise, raised as I have been on a diet of having “AMSTERDAM IS A DEN OF INIQUITY” shoved down my throat, is how easy it is to get away from said dens of iniquity in order to be able to describe these other areas as dens of iniquity.
And this isn’t just a subtle manner in which to throw my parents off the scent (seeing as they both read this) – we actually walked through the red light district once, and it made me feel creepy. In the wrong way. It made me sad. In the wrong way. And it made me feel quite wrong. In the wrong way.
But you know what? I’m glad it exists. Other places could learn from it (see: The Wire’s Hamsterdam; easily one of the best storylines in the whole series). It is indeed a den of iniquity, but it’s clearly signposted as such, you’re warned what will be there and as a result of its regulated…ness it isn’t anywhere near as seedy and crime-ridden as you might think.
Though admittedly I only spent about ten minutes there, so I could well be talking All The Shit.
Anyway, when we were spending our time outside these dens of iniquity we managed to come to a group realisation: Amsterdam is genuinely quite brilliant. It’s pretty, obviously, it’s small enough to get around by foot – but easily navigable by tram if you can be bothered, it’s fun trying to not get hit by cyclists, it’s no more expensive than any other major European city and it feels a whole lot more laid back than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Bar maybe San Francisco.
Plus there’s the gay pub that does a full English breakfast with “two big, thick sausages” on it. Jack did so desperately want one from there.
Anyway, well done The Netherlands.