Easygoing, liberal Amsterdam is "different." Its citizens, bubbling along happily in their multiracial melting pot, are not so easily poured into the restrictive molds of trade and industry. More important, you can enjoy Amsterdam, its culture, history, and beauty, without stretching the limits of your credit cards. Few skyscrapers mar the clarity of the sky and the populace mostly walks or bikes from place to place. The historic center recalls Amsterdam's Golden Age as the command post of a vast trading network and colonial empire, when wealthy merchants constructed gabled residences along neatly laid-out canals.