The capital of the Netherlands is a strange mixture of beautiful North European architecture, world-class museums, drugs and debauchery, which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime
Touching down late Thursday evening, myself along with a couple of friends prepared ourselves for a long weekends in the stag/hen do hotspot of Amsterdam, a city famous for bicycles, trams, drugs and legalised prostitution.
The city itself isn’t massive, so getting around it pretty straight forward apart from the cyclists and trams coming from seemingly every direction, though once you have learnt to have eyes in the back of your head, you’re all set to wander around the narrow streets and canals that make Amsterdam such an aesthetically pleasing place to visit.
Luckily for us, the weather wasn’t what you would expect for April, staying warm and sunny for pretty much the entirety of our stay, giving us the perfect opportunity to explore without fear of getting drenched or staying indoors all day, be it browsing one of the tulip markets, posing at the I Am Amsterdam sign or just enjoying a Heineken by the canal side,
The canals are the lifeblood of most major cities, but with the exception of maybe Venice, Amsterdam by far makes the most of its watery veins, with almost every type of water going vessel imaginable meandering its way along the waterways and under the numerous bridges, so much so that you will almost certainly get Déjà vu when crossing over so many in such a short amount of time.
You can’t come to Amsterdam and not visit the famous Red Light district, where row after row of beautiful women stand behind glass doors, trying to entice anyone to join them for €50 worth of fun behind a curtain, it’s hard to get your head around what would drive someone to want to do that as a job, but a visit to Red Light Secrets (Museum of Prostitution) really helps shed light on life both sides of that glass panel, well worth a visit when in the area and home to the only windows in that part of town that you can photograph freely, with photographing the girls a strict no-no.
If museums are your thing, then Amsterdam is the place for you, there seems to be one on practically every street, from flowers to beer, torture to art, everything and anything can be learnt about or used as an excuse to pass the time, we managed to visit 6 in the sort time we were there, but by far the most famous and time-consuming was the Anne Frank House, an unassuming building behind a church, where one of the most powerful stories of WW2 was born.
You would be hard pressed not to find someone who leaves the Anne Frank House without feeling both upset and ashamed at humanity’s history, it’s a powerful experience visiting the place a group or men, women and children believed would keep them safe. Hiding away from the barbarism that raged outside, hoping in vain that they would one day be able to escape the clutches of the Nazis.
If you plan to visit, then book ahead and be warned that it sells out 3 months in advance, otherwise you like us will spend 3 hours of your life in a slow-moving queue, meandering from one side of the square to another, but trust me, it’s all worth it in the end.
Another thing you will find of every street corner is a shop selling either cakes, chocolate or cheese, Amsterdam really is a place where you could put on a few pounds if you ain’t careful.
Amsterdam is a city of stark contrast, a place where churches sit next to sex shows, where if you wander one street over from the high-street you will find party central, even at 1 in the afternoon. Because of this the city is one to be treasured, reveling in what can only be described as an almost split personality.