The Dutch coffeeshop and the Dutch café are two different phenomena....
I never did find a Dutch "coffeeshop," or hash-bar, that was really comfortable, in a consistent way. Maybe I should say "haven't." But I've stopped looking. I don't really find coffeeshops in Holland to be comfortable.
That's a bold generalization, when you consider the vast particular uniqueness of the coffeeshop in The Netherlands. Each one, I mean, is different.
But, that's my generalization. Coffeeshops are not gezellig, really. At least I don't find them so.
Nevertheless, there were several times, when I lived in Amsterdam, that I spent an afternoon in a coffeeshop, and truly enjoyed it.
There was the first time that I was in Coffeeshop The Noon, which was also the first time I heard the Marshall Mathers LP, and met a woman who would become a friend. We smoked together, drank tea, talked, and enjoyed the afternoon in friendship. Heady memory, relaxed experience.
The other time was the afternoon I spent with Dave, a jovial elder British fellow at Coffeeshop Johnny with Dave and Aart, the guy working there. We talked and played with some metal puzzles, and drank tea, for hours. I lost track of time. Amsterdam was "still out there" when I finally left, just as Dave had suggested it would be.
There were other times I spent in coffeeshops, of course, and some good times, too. There was the short afternoon I spent in Coffeshop De Kroon, into which I wandered by accident, stepping out of a drizzling rainfall.
I had a good long chess-game, once, at The Noon with my housemate Dennis, after we'd become friends. That was relaxing, focusing on the chessboard. Playing slowly. I remember, in fact, making some precipitous move on the gameboard, and Dennis not liking that. "I don't like change," he said, and in the moment I could understand what he meant.
Then, of course, too, were the evenings at The Rookies. But that's a combination bar / coffeeshop. That means they had beer, and that's different.
I lived in Amsterdam from May until December of 2000.
I lived in Nijmegen from August of 2003 until January of 2005.