When the city you live in is called the “Venice of the North,” you know there is something very wrong. Because, being called “The Venice of anything” is pretty bad. It means that a place’s beauty and character are being steadily ruined by masses of tourists who damage the environment, resulting in your corner store selling only silly tourist trinkets.
Like locusts they swarm and make everything look like an overstuffed dirty sock drawer. Venice has completely lost its purpose to its inhabitants—being completely overrun, like Normandy’s beach during D-day. It is an open museum now, with only hotels and Airbnb. And, as authentic as the welcoming smiles of its last inhabitants.
How do people feel about you, as a tourist?
People from Amsterdam do not like you. The Dutch, in general, do not like you, because every time they visit they find it clogged with tourists. Unlike in a museum, there are people actually living in Amsterdam, and also in the city center. They like to ride their bikes, because that is how the Dutch move around. They do not like that you walk on their bike lanes, that they cannot go anywhere without having to circumvent you and that they are unable to find housing because every place is a full time Airbnb hotel.
In Amsterdam, the lines for museums are very long. So long that it is not even funny anymore. Their tickets are expensive. Hotels are expensive too, and a room in a hostel is almost as expensive as one in a hotel.
Have you found a room in a hostel for €40 a night? Brits will make a mess of your room and will puke on the floor.
Walking along our streets in the center can feel on, most days, (but, definitely on weekends) like you are sheep being herded along. But then, most tourists do have many characteristics of sheep. They follow each other to the same places, and all kind of look the same.
I wonder why it is so important for tourists to always follow in the footsteps of those that came before. Why not try something unique and refreshing?
Seeing that travel season has started, I feel like I should lay a cover of protection over the populace that stays behind and has to work.
I do like to seduce people into traveling because it is absolutely the best thing you can do at any moment, in any given year. But, I would ask them to ignore those capital cities they had their eyes on, and try and find beauty and adventure where it would not seem obvious to look. You end up with much more of a challenge, and one more rewarding. No sense bragging about places that everyone already visited. And, isn’t this generation defined by it being the most authentic? There you have it.
How can you pull yourself from the herd and save the inhabitant in any capital city from yourself?
Go somewhere else, to a cute little town in its vicinity. And spend your money. Let me tell you about two nice places to visit in Holland.
In all, how to travel empathetically.
Haarlem is a city that is only fifteen minutes from Amsterdam. You can reach it by train. For such a small distance from the capital, you cannot imagine the tranquility of the place. The whole city is like one big extension of Amsterdam’s most fancy “Jordaan” neighborhood. The city is for people that have money, but do not like the hassle of Amsterdam. Centered around a church, which is adorably European, this small city is gorgeous. It has most to offer to those that love to wine and dine. Catering to its inhabitants, the choices of places to eat are many.
Partying is naturally on a lower scale of excitement than in Amsterdam, but the people you will meet, you can be sure, are Dutch, and not a tourist like yourself.
Streets are wider and the train station is the oldest in the country. It even used to have a salsa club between two of its tracks. As to museums, Haarlem offers a few: one can name the Frans Hals Museum—bearing the name dedicated to the painter Frans Hals. Also there is the Dolhuys: a museum in what used to be an insane asylum. A museum dedicated to insanity. There is even a rumor that those serving your drinks in its café are of the former insane.
Twenty minutes by train from Amsterdam, going in the other direction, is a city that is even older.
A city with great history, but not very big in size. Untrodden by tourist feet, up until the publication of this article. One has to be quick because jewels like these do not stay hidden forever.
It boasts the largest student population in the country, because of the size of its university and centrality in the country.
Both cities have their canals, but Utrecht’s is the easiest to walk along. There you can find cafés and nice restaurants.
Its center is not very big, but incredibly charming. Its tall church, the Dom church, is like the Empire State Building, hovering over the clouds. And as a vantage point you always know where you are, just by looking at it.
It is safe to say that you have to have a heart to climb all of the stairs to the top, but the view certainly is worth it. I would personally understand if one would feel a severe terror of height. Especially when the wind blows.
Why would I advise anyone not to go to Amsterdam? First of all, because I already wrote an article on the city. Secondly, there is much more to see than just those places that are in a tourist guide. There are selfish reasons involved too, and any reader from any major city, be it London, Berlin or Paris, will agree: less is more. Tourists that is…
Our cities are becoming decrepit. City centers are morphing into museums that house rich people and offices of flashy companies. Locals are being pushed out, or to the fringes. These cities are not our cities anymore, but are being pimped out to the whole wide world.
So let us embrace this new, empathetic form of traveling. Many will be grateful to you.