Beautiful Amsterdam

Posted from Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.


Amsterdam wasn’t what I expected. Anyone who who’s been to this famous Dutch town knows what I’m talking about. I’d seen the photos and I’d heard the stories. I was expecting Amsterdam to be filled with potheads and prostitutes lurking in alleys like some grim Tim Burton movie.  If there is a seedy underbelly in this city, I never encountered it.


What I did find was one of the most beautiful and liveable cities I’ve ever been to. There were canals, bridges, stone buildings, culture, and an electrifying energy that pulls your smile up at the corners. I couldn’t wait to roam the city, but first I had to survive the cyclists – who ride with an poignant unnerving nonchalantness. It was surprising to see them obeying the signal lights like they were the law (which they are.) Bike lanes are everywhere, to the point that I really had to keep my eyes open to ensure I was on the footpath and not wandering into oncoming two-wheeled traffic. But as I watched cyclist after cyclist on their mobile phone, holding an umbrella and riding with no hands, I knew renting a bike was out of the question. I’m not that proficient and I could foresee my death.


So I walked. I walked the streets with zest and vigour. I passed canals, went in wrong directions, visited various shops, watched boats manoeuvre the waterways, tried Dutch meatballs and created two enormous blisters on my feet. My poor feet walked more than 10km each day meandering down the beautiful streets of Amsterdam. I even had a chance to meet up with an old friend who now calls this city home.

My travel partner, my cousin, joined me on my second day there. Usually I travel alone, so it was nice to have company for once. Our first mission, after food, was to pay a visit to the Rijksmuseum, which was really beautiful. I like old things. Seeing the history of a city and culture always provides that deeper glimpse I like. Plus, Van Gogh was Dutch and I wanted to see some of his work. The Van Gogh Museum wasn’t far away, but we had limited time to explore the city. It was a difficult decision which museum to see, so we went with the all-around one. When we left it was raining so we did the only thing people without umbrellas do – got wet.


We got a taste in the middle of the tour, but everyone basically had to chug the glass – which no one seemed to mind.

Naturally, that led us to the Heineken Experience. How can one not go to a brewery or distillery if one exists? We go for the beer. And some education, I think. You get two glasses (about a pint in total) with the cost of admission. You can either go on a guided tour or meander around on your own.


It was still early evening, but the ladies were beginning to come out and people were beginning to mill around in one of Amsterdam’s RLD. The lights were on.

There are three Red Light Districts in Amsterdam. We visited all three and drank at a few of the bars. The RLD is exactly what one thinks it is, but it’s well controlled and never for a moment did it feel unsafe. There were prostitutes in windows, coffee shops that maintained the wafting scent of pot in the air, and loads of tourists. We didn’t spend too much time in the RLD, though. We thought about going to a ping pong show, but I had been to one of those in Phuket.


One of the I amsterdam signs outside of the Rijksmuseum at Museumplein. It’s a popular photo op.

We saw Dam Square, the shopping district, and walked past the two-hour line up for Anne Frank House.  Our hostel was next to Vondelpark, a place some people go to have sex after dark. One afternoon we drank a bottle of wine in the park and watched the copious amounts of people picnicing and “smoking” their afternoons away. We also did the obvious and got our touristy photos done in front of an AMSTERDAM sign.


Some of the store windows were really interesting. Though, this could’ve been a residence.

Our visit was very brief, only two days, but we conquered this Dutch city as best as we could. Amsterdam can be experienced in a day, but after a few hours walking the canals you just might wish you allotted more time to spend in this city.

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