The city of Amsterdam has been always a symbol of freedom in many ways. In Amsterdam, when they were opening “coffee shops” and legally selling marijuana, prisons in many other countries were packed with cannabis users. An overall culture of tolerance permeates The Netherlands.
But Amsterdam has changed
Over the last 15 years Amsterdam has become a bustling business center. Many international companies have been attracted to The Netherlands to conduct business, and many internet entrepreneurs have chosen to base their companies based in Amsterdam as well. As a result of this wealth migration, the living expenses increased so much that it became nearly impossible for simple Amsterdammers keep on living there. They had to move first to the suburbs and then to other cities. At the same time of this gentrification, tourism exploded, and the streets of Amsterdam became much more crowded. The museums are fuller, more conferences are happening, and hordes of people who are hungry for cannabis are packing out the small coffeeshops and smartshops. As the infrastructure and services for tourism has increased dramatically, nowadays in the city center you can find more tourists than locals. On the downside, many good old pubs where you could enjoy a lazy drink with locals, like the famous brown cafes, now are packed with tourists.
The free spirit is not so free anymore
Although there is still a lot of tolerance for things like marijuana, the political trend has moved in a new direction towards Protestant Conservatism. The right wing party has garnered more power and a much bigger influence in policies. The number of coffee shops is steadily decreasing as new strict rules force the owners to close, and there are more and more excuses invented to limit and marginalize the cannabis community. An example of this marginalization was the canceling of the annual Amsterdam Cannabis Cup in 2014. Municipalities try to bring other ideas to the table, for example local Cannabis Growing Clubs, all of which are still in frustrating deliberation. Even the notorious Red Light District has a much cleaner feel these days due to the government revamping of the area.
But still the spirit of Amsterdam is alive
The coffeeshops are still full of laid back people and the locals still can grow their own plants from sensi seeds. Some things will never change in that way, but the general layout of the city did not change of course (parking is impossible and the canal boat rides are still fun)
but a lot more cyclists and scooters have added to the city’s daily traffic, many of them tourists attempting to navigate it. Amsterdam will always be the best place to bike as the streets are beautiful, the parks are tidy and everything is flat so you do not have to try to pedal in order to move. It’s actually one of best things to do after a visit in a coffeeshop!
The vibe is still mellow and easygoing
Amsterdam is still more much more tolerant than many other European metropolitan areas. As cities grow in this chaotic way, you can still find new and nice areas, with nice and interesting art galleries and hidden courtyards. Many areas have been conquered by hipsters, hundreds of new restaurants, the opening of new bars and cafes, and craft breweries. But permeating all of this, the best thing in Amsterdam is the people that you meet there, as the city still attracts many interesting personalities and cultures.