Is Amsterdam a real city or just a big town?
Tonight, ‘inside’ an Amsterdam bridge called Brug 9, an interesting debate that divides the city, ‘Is Amsterdam a city or a town?’ debate will be held, organised by AlterFritz. Follow the link above for all the details (in Dutch).
Amsterdam shows its city side in a capital, international way to tourists and the world with its architecture, canals and events, but then turns around and tells its residents in Dutch uncle style what they can and cannot do, as if we were little children.
AlterFritz claims that an increasing number of residents resent the nannyism of the city’ bureaucrats, since the point of living in the big city is to be able to do your thing. Of course, you need some kind of social control, but in recent years — and I have to agree — it has gone too far, the most recent example being getting fined if caught drinking a beer on an overcrowded terrace if you’re standing and not sitting. They revoked it, but it took some protesting first. As if the city didn’t have any real problems!
As for my immigrant two cents, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, but only has 730,000 inhabitants. Many people who live outside of Amsterdam really don’t like it for tons of reasons. My pet peeves include public transport stopping around midinight every night, chaos at Amsterdam Central Station when hailing a taxi, and you can’t get food past midnight anywhere, not even take away or ordering out. Forget any kind of breakfast restaurants except the bakery (OK, a Dutch thing in general, but this is the nation’s capital!) and the debate about having normal shops open on Sunday when people believe they should be closed. Oh, and the highest parking rates in the entire world, not something to be proud of. In this sense, Amsterdam is a closed-minded little village that believes in catering to tourists first and residents second. By catering I do mean taking their money.
Aaah, but I do like it somehow, I do live here! I love the nightlife, cultural activities, architecture, some restaurants (Dutch roulette, I call it) and I openly admit it’s close to an international airport when I want to get out of town, er city.
UPDATE: Het Parool, Amsterdam’s independent daily wrote about the debate (in Dutch).