the new green economy

marijuana_investmentLawmakers in Washington and Colorado have until December of this year to lay down the rules for the legalization and sale of pot. And one question, ahem, high on the agenda: how does all of this relate to tourists? If Amsterdam is a good example, pot tourism literally brings in the green in more ways than one. Although the Netherlands had tried to enforce a ban on the selling of pot to tourists, the Amsterdam City Council refused to comply, because they are fully aware of how well their coffers are being lined by pot-smoking tourists. In fact, pot sales are doing so well, the Amsterdam City Council wants to be allowed to grow its own weed. It does not seem, however, that either Washington or Colorado are much concerned about waiting around for the lawmakers to set the limits for buying and selling marijuana. There’s a lot of wiggle room in the interpretation of simply enjoying any grass on offer. One of the largest annual events and a big tourist draw in the Pacific Northwest is an event called Hempfest. In Seattle, a marijuana dinner cruise will set sail this summer, while in Colorado, Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg) didn’t get into a whiff of trouble for throwing joints out into the crowd at a Denver Center Park event last month. Heck, you can even take a cannabis cooking class in Denver. Who knows, maybe they’re onto something. Maybe pot tourism is the new green economy.


i spy ifly

iFly is a neat new online travel magazine from Dutch airline KLM.  What sets it apart from its dowdy paper cousin, the in-flight, is more than just a half-finished Sudoku. Namely it’s an almost Ipadian reliance on words and images cleverly integrated with video. The opening spread features German photographers Censi Goepel and Jens Warnecke, who work in situations where most refuse to go because they are either too cold, too dark, or too rainy. During a long Norwegian winter in a VW bus the duo tried to capture a flame with an extremely long shutter time. It became the basis for a career revolving around images with amazing light effects, a handful of which are featured here. There’s also a video profile of Berlin’s quirky Propeller Island City Lodge, a hotel and art installation rolled into one. A 360-degree interactive tour of a single square in Florence merges cleverly with a jaunt across Scotland by car – coupled with a chance to win your own Scottish adventure. And if you’ve ever been curious about the evanescent magic of traveling through the universe, there’s an inquisitive interview with Dutch Astronaut Andre Kuipers, too. Naturally there’s also the requisite arrivals and departures information for the airline; however, if you’ve never flown through Amsterdam Schiphol this section might actually make for the most interesting reading of all: check in for your flight on KLM’s mobile app then speed through customs to a picnic in the sun, replete with butterflies, in the new grass-filled Airport Park. If culture is how you’d rather while away your layover there’s a Library with books in 29 languages and a collection of Old Master paintings awaiting discerning eyes at the Rijksmuseum Schiphol. Leave it to the ever-practical Dutch to turn one of the most stressful aspects of modern life into one of the most relaxing – not to mention re-imagining how we read and think about it, too.



the root of canals

Amsterdam’s canals are a major part of the city’s charm – and the canal belt area has even been nominated for a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Beginning Tuesday, visitors to the city will have another way to discover the city’s iconic canals:  the Rijksmuseum is opening an exhibition of paintings, prints and drawings which show the spectacular expansion of 17th-century Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s Canal Belt: The Expansion of Amsterdam in the Golden Age includes a  number of maps from the Rijksmuseum’s own collection which chart the concentric expansion. However, central to the exhibition are six views by Gerrit Berckheyde depicting the changes along the Gouden Bocht (or Golden Bend) of the Herengracht Canal – the richest part of the new city.

Amsterdam had long been a city like any other, but trade at the end of the 16th century was growing in a spectacular fashion and more and more people wanted to live in the city. By around 1672 Amsterdam had a population of more than 200,000. There was also constant demand for space to accommodate the docks and countless warehouses. The city had already expanded for a few years starting in 1585, but between 1610 and 1620 Amsterdam doubled in size. The final city expansion was  formally codified in 1662, when the three existing canals were extended, giving Amsterdam’s canal belt its famous half-moon shape.


bucket list: 2009 edition – August

ireland sunrise

CARLINGFORD:  I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching the sun rise over Carlingford Loch.  In this photo you can just make out the oyster beds partially submerged in the foreground.  The village is famous (in Ireland) for its oysters, and one of my favorite meals entails a dozen of those local pearly mollusks on ice and a creamy pint of Guinness at PJ O’Hare’s.  If the rain is lashing down sideways in typical Irish fashion and there’s a peat fire blazing, more’s the better.


NETHERLANDS:   Amsterdam is one of those cities – like St. Petersburg and Paris – that is so strikingly beautiful in design and composition that you can spend minute after hour after day just wandering the streets and soaking it up like a sponge.  Plus, there’s the light.  What is it about the Flemish light?  Could it be that the humidity from the surrounding seas causes the light to diffuse and bathe everything in its beatific glow?  Whatever it is, it’s breathtaking to behold.


misty water-colored memories

for-the-love-of-godI’m flashing back to being in Amsterdam around this time last year:  my first canal ride, aboard a private salon boat courtesy of the swanky InterConti; my first space cake and the many lost hours in thrall to the architecture (and the flowers);  my first crazy museum night, lined up for days outside the Rijksmuseum and not getting a glimpse of Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God until well past midnight.  (verdict:  Judith Leiber did it first)

Amsterdamers really know how to enjoy themselves, and Museumnacht is one of the most popular nights of the year in one of the coolest cities around.  More than 40 museums stay open well past the witching hour with special programming like an all night rave of dance and fashion in the Old Church or Oude Kerk; animation played out against the music of Radiohead and Goldfrapp;  an interpretive taste of historical food from the 65,000 cookbooks at Bijzondere Collecties van de Uya; and at the Olympic Stadium built for the 1928 games: a surprise midnight challenge.  It’s a great way to see parts of the city you might not ordinarily trek to see – and possibly the best way to interact with locals out for a night of groovy good fun. That’s right, it’s groovy good fun.

There’s even an upside to all that time spent in line:  when it snakes through an enfilade of pictures by Vermeer, Cuyp, Steen and van Ruisdael, you don’t care how long the wait is.


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