Monday, July 4, 2011

Does Portland want to be Amsterdam?

As you may recall, our niece, Kia, is staying with us for a month as an au pair. She lives in Portland, Oregon and she's written to her Facebook friends 10 reasons why she thinks Portland is trying to be Amsterdam (shared with her permission). What follows are her 10 reasons.



I've come to the conclusion that Portland tries very very hard to be Amsterdam, but falls short in all areas. Portland is like Amsterdam's kid brother... that likely very few people in Amsterdam have actually heard of.

My niece in Haarlem, Netherlands
Today's author, Kia
(Note: this photo is actually in Haarlem a town close to Amsterdam)

  1. There are birds EVERYWHERE. Pigeons, ducks, and seagulls by the hundred decorate any given place. In Portland, we have to PUT birds on everything. Because they don't just flock there naturally.
  2. The weather is very similar, but Portland can't keep itself from reaching high temperatures come summer, whereas it has yet to be more than 23 C since I got here. Also, the Dutch do not fear umbrellas the way Oregonians do.
  3. Portland is lauded as the USA's most bike-friendly city. Amsterdam, however, makes Portland look like the kind of place you'd have to be stupid to ride your bike in... even if, on average, each bike in Amsterdam is stolen twice a year.
  4. In Portland, pot is "everywhere", but illegal, while in Amsterdam it's EVERYWHERE, and legal.
  5. Also, Portland is "defined" by it's waterfront. So is Amsterdam, Amsterdam just has a LOT more waterfront, what with all those canals.
  6. Portland has a lot of coffeeshops. So does Amsterdam, except in Amsterdam "coffeeshop" means "you can smoke pot here".
  7. Portland boasts about its superior public transit. Amsterdam doesn't need to boast (though I haven't been on any other country's transit, maybe Amsterdam is just average, but it's still more efficient than Portland).
  8. Portland is so weird that at this point anyone who lives there can't be surprised by anything. In Amsterdam, everything is about ten times weirder (more perverted, more stoned, etc)... and the locals barely even notice anymore.
  9. It is often said that Portlanders are friendly and outgoing. It is often said the Dutch are not. The second sentence is very very false.
  10. I remember when I was a kid, there were cow statues in Portland that had been painted. Apparently that's a regular kind of "thing" in Amsterdam. The only cow I know is still in Portland is in the children's section of the Multnomah County Library on 10th... assuming the cow is still there.)
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