Then he rested as easily as he could with his two elbows in the pine needles and the
muzzle of the submachine gun resting against the trunk of the pine tree.’
Ernest Hemmingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Somewhere in the seventies, when everything was still young and fresh Holland and Amsterdam looked like a promised land where all our hippie dreams would have been fulfilled. A place where freedom really existed, a kind of Woodstock-city covered with clouds of marijuana smoke and decibels of music – the real John and Yoko honeymoon place (Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton / Talking in our beds for a week…)
The Dutch speak English
So, it’s easy to imagine a romantic picture through student’s eyes in, let’s say, modest, communist ruled Yugoslavia, listening to the early works of Golden Earnings, Shocking Blue, Rick van der Linden or Focus. Due to all these connections, we simply believed that Holland was an English speaking country; we heard about some Dutch language, but believed that it was not really used, something like the old Gailic still spoken in Ireland or Scotland. Even though, some of the rare witnesses, who reached Amsterdam with at the time very popular Inter-rail tickets, reported the same: ‘They speak English, of course!’
Later, when my destiny brought me here, to Amsterdam, I found that some traces of that old dream were still alive in the city, but I also learned that Amsterdam, for sure, was not the same as the rest of the country, that its spirit had also changed with the times – and finally, that certainly not everybody here was a hippie.