It is NOT ALLOWED in Germany. In Amsterdam, it is.

After 3 days in Germany, I felt like a child again. NOT in a good way.

We had been shouted at by angry Germans so often.

Things that were pretty acceptable to us, were NOT ALLOWED in Germany.

Our group of 8 squeezed round a table for 4 in a busy restaurant. NOT ALLOWED!

We moved 2 tables together in another restaurant.  NOT ALLOWED!

We wanted to celebrate someone’s birthday by opening a bottle of champagne at our hotel reception area. We asked if we could pay corkage. NOT ALLOWED!

I saw a tourist in a shop get shouted at too – he looked at the fridge magnets at the counter instead of the ones displayed on the wall.

“NOT ALLOWED”, the shop assistant shouted. “These are MINE.”

In another shop, I picked up a T-shirt off the pile instead of looking at the one on the wall. NOT ALLOWED!

We may annoyed a lot of people, but we still had loads of beer. Oops I mean fun! (It was the Oktoberfest, after all.)

Nonetheless, I wasn’t too sad to leave. I am not used to being shouted at like that. I am certainly not used to being treated like a naughty child.


We flew to Amsterdam! Well, anything and everything goes in Amsterdam. And no-one shouts (except the sad addicts)

It did feel like we had arrived at the other extreme.

Weed, drugs and sex available freely all over the place. Well not quite free, but freely available! It was quite an eye-opener.

My husband and I wandered into  ‘The Other Side” coffee shop looking for breakfast one morning. It was empty but that didn’t put us off. We sat at a table next to the window and waited for someone to take our order.

Then we noticed a small sign next to each table: These tables are reserved for people buying weed from this establishment.

I thought it was a joke, but the joke was on me.

When three young girls walked in, asking for cappuccino, the man behind the counter asked for their ID’s! This seemed quite peculiar.

Looking more closely (and realizing there was no food anywhere ), getting something ‘breakfasty’ to eat here obviously wasn’t going to happen. So we ducked.

We found a friendly coffee shop on a busy street and enjoyed crispy croissants and coffee. No ID required!

So we had fun in Amsterdam too. We didn’t annoy anyone either. But after visiting “The Other Side” I did check out each place carefully before I entered.

As I headed home, I reflected on the two extremes. I couldn’t remember being shouted at by anyone back home nor have I inadvertently wandered into a coffee shop selling only weed.

At O.R. Tambo passport control a large lady with a wide smile welcomed us home. My heart smiled too. I love coming home.

There is comfort between the extremes. Here in SA we do not get shouted at in restaurants and shops. If I wanted to get weed, drugs and illicit sex I could probably find it, but it’s not in my face every day.

Each country has a shadow side, and we certainly have ours, but this is the place I know and love.

Going to the other extreme may be invigorating and exciting, but coming home is always better.

So by all means, go to the other extreme – and then enjoy coming back…

“It is only through extremes
that men can arrive at the middle path
of wisdom and virtue.”
Wilhelm von Humboldt


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About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
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6 Responses to It is NOT ALLOWED in Germany. In Amsterdam, it is.

  1. Kirsten says:

    Email from Judie: Hi Kirsten,

    Laughed when I read your e mail about the Germans, very much my experience in France 35 years ago, so rude and arrogant. You wonder if they want tourists.

    I must say I have not experienced rudeness like that. When I went to Italy a few years ago, I found them not very obliging, rather lazy in fact. Work is an effort for them , maybe that is why they have economic problems.

    I was in the UK for the month of September and I found their service levels vastly improved. People were friendly and helpful, I wonder if this was not because of the Olympics. People actually stopped in the street and asked if we needed help, first time ever in the UK. They used to have shocking service. The UK economic is not great and they need all the tourists they can get.

    I just wanted to add, that I have traveled extensively in the UK and around Europe, and I am so happy to come home and see the smiling faces at O Tambo, after a long night on the plane. So much better than Heathrow. It also makes you realise all countries have their problems, they are just different from ours.

    • Kirsten says:

      Hi Judie,

      Thanks for sharing your insights. I did wonder how happy they were to have tourists there. Fortunately we also had some fun and good experiences there, so it’s not all bad!

      I do think the struggling economy should start making a difference – let’s hope so.

  2. Kirsten says:

    An email from Greg: May I illustrate my take on extremes. I think extremes are so important as they take us into new territories – the extra mile (the pain barrier) – a lonely place and so great when you have broken through it – where you find yourself.

    How about Mt Kilimanjaro from a physical point of view? I guess a coffee shop with weed for sale would test one’s values to an extreme and then its back to “home sweet home” a truly comfortable place.

    Travel I love, and am so grateful to have a job that requires travel and that has taken me to some real odd destinations and can only agree with you how great it makes you appreciate where we live, warts and all.

  3. Anne says:

    I have to say, you had very interesting experiences in my home country Kirsten. Good to know that we all experiencing different scenarios, lot of times mirroring back at us what we need to learn. I found lot of comfort as well as discomfort in different places in the world depending on the glasses I was wearing at the time. Time to take the glasses off and see through the eyes of love. Namaste.

    • Kirsten says:

      Hi Anne, thanks for your comment. You are so right about the perspectives and looking thru different glasses. And discomfort always has something to tell us too! The best glasses are the ones of love. Thanks for sharing. Namaste…

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