Amsterdam: The British Invasion

Amsterdam is swarming with Brits. They are filling up the coffee shops, ogling through the doors of the Red Light District and falling off bikes and possibly into canals all across the city. It has now become a right of passage for young people to visit Amsterdam and experiment with all that the city has to offer. Legal coffee shops, prostitution and a rather liberal approach from the police force have meant teens are able to experiment without fearing incarceration. While this can be liberating, I do feel that we, us Brits, are once again confirming the stereotypes as idiots abroad.

Recently in Amsterdam I was a bit stunned by the sheer mass of stag-party mentality that radiated from every corner of the city. ‘Lads’ were out in force and with this came associated tomfoolery. I was also counted among this crowd of pasty and culturally oblivious tourists- I knew no Dutch, (and therefore awkwardly requested things using a mixture of hand gestures and a few words of French and German), and I knew nothing of the city. I had a map and a few cliché ideas about where to hit up in the city. In spite of this, the lack of humility of touring youths still amazed me. Take this for example; one morning we were having brunch in a café when a posse of men swarmed in. Having sat down and swiftly all ordered the classic English breakfast they proceeded to roll a joint and light up in the café. Irritated enough by this group of morons it was also apparent that the waitress was becoming stressed, further exacerbated by their hailing chorus of “oi”’s.

It strikes me that people would not act this way on their home turf, but instead see a trip abroad as an excuse to drop all manners or consideration. This phenomenon can be observed in every trashy party destination frequented by young tourists. One shining example is the traditional Booze Cruise; one goes out on a boat and takes part in several games in the hope of, 1. Getting blind drunk and, 2. Positioning oneself in close contact with the opposite sex. What really happens is one gets far too drunk, humiliates self and friends, throws up overboard and shamefully dry-humps the sailing mast, thereby dashing any chances of appearing cool to the opposite sex. Abroad we distance ourselves from disapproving friends and family and hence we gain a thrill from travelling incognito.

For that reason I fear for the future of such a quaint and delightful place such as Amsterdam. Its innate attraction to young people may unfortunately become its downfall. With this in consideration, I hope to inspire even the smallest amount of humble awareness within young tourists. Whilst having a good time is of course number one priority, try and put yourself in the shoes of local people and every so often consider the possibility that you may cause national disgrace.

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