THE DOORS COFFEE SHOP
Ah yes, Amsterdam, a city filled with colourful tulips in the spring and whose attractions include its wonderful museums with paintings by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, its amazing system of canals, its interesting and often leaning architecture, the red light district where the ladies sit in storefront windows displaying their wares and beckoning to the customers with practiced “come hither” looks, the hundreds of thousands of bicycles weaving all about and, well there’s that other reason why so many tourists enjoy coming to this beautiful city. Scattered through the city there are numerous “coffee shops,” and they’re not your typical cafés, for here, along with your cappuccino, latte or beer, you can also order from a selection of different types of fine cannabis. And light up on the premises. Although, as in most European countries, smoking is not allowed in public places, the coffee shops are exempted from the law and as you walk along the streets in the summer the sweet aroma of weed wafts upon the breezes. The attitude of the authorities is that, as long as the grass is bought and consumed in small amounts, they tend to look the other way. The Dutch have always been and no doubt will remain a very tolerant people, although the recent waves of immigrants have put their patience and tolerance to the test, as in other European countries. But the fact remains that you can still go to Amsterdam and get wonked out of your mind and not have to really worry that you’ll get busted for imbibing. When I last paid the city a visit in 2007 with a friend, we happened upon The Doors Coffee Shop, and naturally had to go in.
The second photo on this post shows the interior of the coffee shop, a typical layout for most of them. Notice the wooden counter with the reflecting glass top on the left side of the bar in the photo and the mirror frame on the wall on the right hand side. Interested customers can view a choice selection of different types and qualities of grass offered at different prices. The proprietor switches on a light beneath the glass and behind the mirror and the wares are instantly viewable. You make your choice, pay for it and you can sit right down and roll right up. Papers are also offered for sale. And although some of the Dutch are not exactly happy with the type of “element” the shops supposedly attract, so far Amsterdam has not sunk into an orgy of hedonism, debauchery and crime because people are getting high in the shops. The fact that this kind of tourism brings in millions of dollars each year has not escaped the attention of the city’s administration. And although the laws making marijuana illegal are finally being relaxed or done away with all together in some parts of the world, Amsterdam still remains, at least in Europe, the one city where you can light up and be left alone. Perhaps the day will come in the not too distant future when lighting up in public will no longer be something out of the ordinary, but until that time comes, Amsterdam is the one itinerary on your European trip you might want to consider if that’s what turns you on. And of course, there are still the Rembrandts and Van Goghs to go see once you’re good and loaded…
Photos taken in Amsterdam in April 2007.
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