Ah, Amsterdam

Slate’s travel series are sadly few and far between. The last time we heard from them was the
Cynthia Barnes piece on Timbuktu, a fine piece if you missed it.
Now we have another week-long series of dispatches from Seth Stevenson, who penned an earlier
piece on India that had me laughing yet wondering if we’d visited the same country (I was in India about this time last

In this series, Stevenson riff on the joys of Amsterdam, where he revels in the city’s “coziness”, finds virtue in the
slow food movement and indulges in many succulent bitterballen

along the way. Of course, no trip to the city of no-restraint would be complete without some indulgence in the city’s
famous vices, and Stevenson does not disappoint. A visit to one of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops (a helpful side note,
Stevenson helps make clear that “coffeehouses” sell coffee, while “coffeeshops” sell cannabis)
finds him extolling the virtues of a little mary jane and
ruing the presence of legions of pot-smoking British teens who he likens to a “plague of retarded locusts”. Very nice.
There is also a hilarious account of his experience with
shrooms, which should be required reading for all who are
considering the consumption of psychedelic fungus.

Stevenson’s discourse on the easy availability of
intercourse is slim, a disappointment, perhaps, but since he has a girlfriend, I suppose we can excuse him for not
delivering the full measure of devotion expected to of today’s travel writers. The series is an excellent read,
especially if Amsterdam is on your traveling radar screen. The account is far more honest (and hilarious) than you will
find in most mainstream travel pubs.