Having just returned from Amsterdam I wonder, can there be a Western European city of greater contrasts than the capital of The Netherlands? The Venice of the North offers the Rijk and Van Goth Museums, with their unrivalled collections of Dutch art, the tragic history of Anne Frankhuis, the area of de Walletjes – more colourfully called, pardon the pun, The Red Light District – for those with an alternative curriculum in mind and a welcome to visitors from all over the world. And it’s easy to forget that it is also a global financial centre hosting some of the largest and most influential banks and credit insurance groups in the world.
I wonder too if I really like Amsterdam very much? I’ve visited over twenty times. As a business centre it is excellent, the Dutch charming and well educated and Amsterdam boasts many good hotels and restaurants. And yet the city centre is tacky; some might say soiled in more ways than one. I’m tempted to say, come on Amsterdam, smarten up! But that would be futile, because I surmise that many would hate Amsterdam to lose its unique character.