February 18-19 & 28-March 3, 2001 (also a day in August 1998)
I entered this flat canal combed land through it's capital city, Amsterdam, an experiment in liberalism. "You either put more people in prison or you become more tolerant," one Dutch person told me. Of course, this creates some stereotypes... "Just because I'm Dutch doesn't mean I do drugs or that my friends are always smoking pot!" is something I've also heard more than once another Dutch friend told me.
BTW, I was fourtunate to be hosted by a friendly Dutch girl (Sacha) who was studing me for her anthropology degree as much as I was studying her city. I now know the pattern... this takes effort to meet up with someone, but the travel experience is so much more worth while after the welcoming of a native and makes the memories all the more richer.
It's true that you can inhale here and no one will question your presidential candidacy and do many other things that you wouldn't do in front of a policeman back home. Too many people pissing in the streets? Put a public urinal there. Too many bicycles being stolen? Provide public ones for all to share in the parks. Sex? That's your business, prostitution, same sex marriages, animals(?) and a list of other things: all legit. The coffee shops focus on marijuana consumption and you're bound to get a smell of it nearly 24-7 in the center areas.
After taking in this, I realized that in this place I could probably get away with doing anything I wanted with out the legal and social oppressions against such outlandish behaviors I could dream up!! No sooner than one quicked heartbeat pumped through my veins then did I experience an unsatisfying calm. I realized there wasn't anything so out of bounds I wanted to do! For me,this is was great lesson in the psychology of freedom.
Oh what we do to fly, then find our selves still walking even after sprouting wings.