Yes, on Friday we went around the city with a cardboard cutout of a small, mutilated boy and took pictures of him trying to enjoy himself, but it seemed like all he could ever muster was a sort of fixed, polite grimace, more polite condescension than anything resembling actual pleasure.
Nonetheless, here's the letter we had to send to Flat Stanley's 7-year-old "friend" back in America so he could share it with his class.
Thanks for sending Flat Stanley to visit us in Amsterdam! We had a great time while he was here.
It sure was a long trip for Stanley! Amsterdam is 4000 miles away from Atlanta, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. It's the biggest city in a country mistakenly referred to by the rest of the world as Holland.
Amsterdam is a very old city, older than all of America. It was made hundreds of years ago in the year 1300 by building a dam across a river called the Amstel (named after the beer). Get it? Amstel + Dam? That means that everywhere that Flat Stanley went on this visit? It used to be underwater. And probably will be again someday in the not-so-distant future. If you think that's a scary thought, just imagine living here!
Because there is so much water in Amsterdam, there is a long tradition of building boats here. Stanley really liked looking at the old boats. He even went inside this one big old boat and looked at the cannons that sailors used to entertain themselves with on long trips.
Some boats were for blowing things up, but other boats used to carry consumer goods such as spices and gold and slaves, and when the boats would finally get to Amsterdam, this building above is where the boats would be weighed and the slaves would be dropped off. It's right next to the Red Light District, so this was very convenient for everyone if you catch my drift.
Today in Amsterdam some people still travel by boat, but most people travel by bicycle. There are more bikes than cars here!
Almost all kids ride their bikes to school, but if you're still too small to ride a bike yourself, your parents will drive you around in a dangerous-looking bike like this one. And nobody wears any helmets, even though these annoying-as-fuck scooters are scooting around at stupid, blinding speeds! Huh.
We saw a scooter crash into a building a couple of weeks ago because they were driving at an especially stupid, blinding speed and hit a pothole or something. It was great. We didn't even ask if they were OK. We almost cheered out loud (we did cheer silently). Mara said "Should we see if they're OK?" and I said "Fuck 'em," and we laughed and kept walking.
Some people use cars in Amsterdam but it's not like America where all the cars are big and new. Most of the cars here are smaller and older and usually have smaller stereos.
Stanley really liked this little old car with a picture of a monkey on the side. It's a car that belongs to this bar with a nice sunny terrace that we used to go to all the time back when Uncle Mark was drinking too much. The service was terrible there, though. You could order a beer like 3 times before it would actually show up. It was easier to just get drunk at home and then go hang out on their big terrace in the sun. Cheaper, too.
Since Amsterdam is such an old city, sometimes you can still see how people used to do things in the old days. For example, people used to wear wooden shoes!
It might not seem very comfortable, but they protect your feet from getting wet or hurt while you're planting or harvesting marijuana. They also make a nice sound when you walk on cobblestone streets, like a "clomp, clomp, clomp" sound. Imagine a whole city full of people walking around making clomping sounds! Could be great.
Stanley also liked seeing all of the old windmills in Amsterdam. A long time ago, before there was electricity, farmers used windmills for turning wheat into grain and many other kinds of backbreaking, crappy work that these days would be done by Mexicans (that's kind of a joke, so maybe soften your delivery here with a broad laugh that lets everyone know you're pretty much kidding. Then finish with, "These days in Holland windmills are used for making mustard!" and quickly move on to the next photo).
Another big thing Stanley saw was the Royal Palace. Instead of having a Black President like America has, Holland has a queen! That's a bit of an oversimplification, but it's easier to understand than the truth! This is where the queen "works" sometimes when she's in Amsterdam, though no one can really explain what kind of work she does.
Not all of Amsterdam is old, there are lots of new buildings too. Some of the new buildings look like they might be from the future or from outerspace. Look at this one! The harbor is full of these new buildings, all designed by different architects. The end result is kind of like that bar scene in Star Wars with all the funny-looking aliens jamming out on futuristic Dixieland music, but without music. Or aliens. Just buildings, silent buildings.
Stanley also saw some littler things when he was here. One day Stanley was going for a walk and suddenly he was surrounded by bronze lizards! Or was he?!? LOL..."one toke over the line" indeed, Stanley.
All in all, Flat Stanley had a fun time when he was here and he learned a lot about Amsterdam. We hope he can come back someday!