Where’s the fire

I haven’t looked at any lists of the top tourist activities in Amsterdam, but I know what the most popular one is. It’s hard to miss.

It’s not the museums, or the tulip festival, and it’s not taking a selfie in front of the Anne Frank house. The most popular thing to do if you’re a tourist in Amsterdam is stopping in the middle of a street, and just standing there.

You have to try it.

Walk into the middle of a busy street where people are cycling – then stop, set down your purse, and just stand there. Breathe it in.

Or find an almost empty street when there’s just one cyclist coming, walk out and stand in front of them, and start deleting old photos from your digital camera.

Stopping and standing is great for groups too. Grab eleven or twelve friends, find a narrow street, spread out so you fully cover all the sidewalk and street space and then stop, just stop, and stand, and talk about where to eat lunch. But really talk about it, think of lots of lunch ideas. That place sounds good, but what other places? This street isn’t going to fill itself!

Why walk when you could stop? Why sit at a cafe, on a bench, or near a sidewalk when you could stand in the middle of traffic? Travel isn’t about the destination, or even the journey. It’s about stopping and standing for as long as possible. And it’s about waving your arms around to take up more space, if you can.

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