The Travel 2
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Amsterdam is a city like all other cities, yet a city like no other. The flickering lights of hotel and restaurants signs remind you of previous visited cities. People are hurriedly hopping on trams, and a huge number of tourists wander the canal-surrounded streets. You instantly get the city-like vibe in Amsterdam, but then realise that things are different, more liberal, and definitely not like other cities. Amsterdam is a city that never sleeps. The city might easily have as many tourists and locals roaming around during night time, as it has during day time.
The Netherland’s capital is a city that offers much more because of its legalized prostitution, and supply of cannabis. These 2 infamous reasons are what sets Amsterdam on the radar of a lot of tourists around the world. There isn’t one city like it in Europe (or the world?), due to some pretty obvious reasons. Although the city offers much more than just prostitution and weed, I say it’s a pity to visit Amsterdam for just a tulip tour.
In Malta, sex shops are still a taboo. You won’t see one, and if they actually exist, I honestly don’t know about them. In Amsterdam it’s sex shops, erotic shops, sex museums, a prostitution museum (and the only one in the world for that matter), brothels, sex acts, peep shows, monuments celebrating prostitution, and women in windows.
If these are not the kind of things you’re after, I still suggest you visit the red light district and have a glimpse at some of the beautiful women in the window. Feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. After all, it is something you won’t get to see in any other country.
Here’s how we managed our time during our short stay in Amsterdam…
Day 1 in Amsterdam
We arrived at our Airbnb thanks to Amsterdam’s smooth-running public transport. The main modes of transport are buses, trains and trams. We got a train ticket, and hopped on a train that took us from Schipol airport to Amsterdam’s main station. We then got a bus, and got off 5 minutes away from our accommodation. Transport tickets are easy to buy from vending machines.
Side note: The staff at the information office at Amsterdam’s central station were super helpful. Kudos to all the happy workers we met in Amsterdam!
What we saw on our first day;
- Bulldog franchise
Out of curiosity we went to have a look at the oldest coffee shop(s) in Amsterdam. Here you can buy different types of cannabis, or just stop for a (normal) meal or drink.
- Red light district walking tour
We did our homework beforehand and pin-pointed specific points we wanted to see. We packed our camera and put on our best walking shoes, and went off for a tour we organised ourselves. If you’re not up for this, book a walking tour with a professional guide. There are plenty tours you can choose from.
- Prostitution museum
In the red light district area, amongst a good number of coffee shops and prostitution windows, lies the prostitution museum. You cannot miss it, because you’ll notice tourists lining up outside its tiny door. It is the only prostitution museum in the world, and you’ll get to see what the ‘red rooms’ look from the inside. Learn about the security measures of this industry, get to see real S&M stuff, and listen to prostitutes telling their stories.
Day 2 in Amsterdam
I felt like pin-pointing this out because breakfast at our Airbnb was to die for. Ben, our host, used to serve us breakfast (which was included in the price) every morning in our room.
- Van Gogh museum
Me and Sam both love art, and try to visit an art museum wherever we go. The Van Gogh museum is a huuuge one. It not only holds Van Gogh’s art, but other work from the artists’ period, which consequently inspired him and helped him mature.
TIP – The Van Gogh museum is a highly visited museum. We suggest you get the tickets before. Buy them online, and you’ll save loads of time queueing.
- Iamsterdam sign
We passed by the famous sign whilst walking back from the Van Gogh museum to the train station. Honestly, we were not seeing the point why people were (are) so hyped about this ‘monument’. You’d also have to wait your turn and queue to take a photo, since it’s generally super crowded.
- Damrak street
We explored Damrak street, took in all the gorgeous facades, and snapped some photos of the Christmas decorations. Some shopping was in order as well.
This is a fun street to explore. There are a lot of sex shops and coffee shops, as well as shops selling crepes and fries.
Day 3 in Amsterdam
Discovered this gorgeous sweet shop the day before, in Damstraatjes. We spent some time choosing sweets and chatting with the friendly shop owner at Jamin.
We went to enjoy the colourful facades and the vastness of Amsterdam squares. Were we visiting during warmer weather, we would have stopped to enjoy a drink at the kerbside bars. There are a couple of pretty restaurants in Leidseplein area.
Strolling around the Jordaan area was delightful. We enjoyed some window shopping in Rozengracht. On this same street we encountered an all-organic shop, Bio-Bros. We treated ourselves to a big piece of Dutch organic cheese, each. It was truly the perfect souvenir to take home with us!
- Anne Frank museum
Unfortunately, I cannot tell much about this museum. Instead I can only advise you to buy tickets online, and beforehand. We didn’t manage to get in on the day, since it was fully booked. It was fully booked not only for that day, but for the whole month in advance. Do not make our mistake. Plan well ahead if you would like to pay a visit to Anne Frank’s house.
Top Tip 1
If you would like further information regarding city guides, and a virtual holiday planner, I suggest you download Visit a City. This is an application for android and iOS phones, alike. It helps you organize your city trip, and I’m not just talking about Amsterdam here. I used it in other main European cities, like Budapest and Vienna.
Top Tip 2
Do not take photos of women in windows. Sex workers are treated with dignity and respect, as they should, and taking photos is considered a criminal offence.
I dare say that Amsterdam has it all. You can bike, go on canal boat rides, immerse yourself in art and culture with the numerous museums around, go shopping, and finally, well… Visit sex museums and coffee shops, if it’s something you fancy.
I wouldn’t say Amsterdam is fit for a family holiday. However, the Netherlands does have some gorgeous villages, like Rotterdam and Maastricht, to name a few. They are lovely for a weekend getaway with the family. On the other hand, I believe Amsterdam is perfect for hen and bachelor parties. It is also a great destination for a group of friends.