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Amsterdam Travel Blog

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Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, woooooohooooo, I’m in Amsterdam!!!

And what a fabulous place it is! Everyone has heard all the stories and laws, but still it’s hard to imagine a place so liberal and open minded, let alone all that set in a beautiful setting of winding cobbled streets and canals!

Mind you, it was an absolute disaster when we first arrived. My bungy shoulder has been playing up a treat, you gotta love that feeling like someone’s stabbed a scalding hot blade into your shoulder and is slowly twisting in endlessly… Ouch! But, I’m tough, well, kinda, almost… Anyway, I’m used to it so tried to just shut up and put up with it.

We got a little lost, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the place but it’s kinda shaped like a massive onion. So it’s easy to get lost in the winding streets. And believe me, getting lost in the streets is great in such an amazing place, except when you have a 25kg pack and a day pack that probably weighs another 10kg. And while I’m complaining, let me add a broken big toe to the mix. Ugh!!! Eventually we found our way to the address of the hostel that we booked and stood outside the building. There was nothing there but a coffee shop. So we walked up and down and checked the addresses again and again and established that we were 100% definitely at the right address listed, and definitely where we had circled on the map. This whole epic of trying to figure out where the building was went on for at least an hour until I was finally ready to throw myself in the canal.

Finally someone explained that the guide book was completely wrong in both the address listed and the map provided, and gave us the right directions. And yes, of course it’s right on the other side of the city (triple UGH!!!) At this point I was wondering if I was going to make it, but as if I would ever give up. Then something miraculous happened… YAAAAAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA… It started snowing… YAAAAAAAAYAYAYAYAYA… Yeah, so, ummm… I kinda like the snow (ok, I‘m addicted to it!), and it cheered me up enough to get us to the hostel pretty quick cos all I wanted to do was dump my stuff and go back outside and play!

Once we had checked in and dropped our bags in our rooms, went back outside and I was actually able to take in exactly how stunning a city it is.

The moonlight seems to shine all the way down the canals and reflect off every window, the architecture of the buildings is divine, although there is a suspicious cloud of smoke that seems to cover the whole city… Hmmm… J

Before getting to Amsterdam we had booked a train out of there knowing full well how easy it would be to get stuck there and how quickly money filters through your pockets in a place like that. So knowing that we had only 4 nights to get everything done we got absolutely stuck into the city as quick as we could!

The streets are lined with so many things that you can wander around for so long just entertaining yourself with the shop windows… Prostitutes, Bars, “Smart Shops“, “Coffee Shops” and Cafés (yes, there’s a difference here!) are everywhere in the red light district, then outside of there you have beautiful old buildings that are so fascinating in their design.

So, in case you don’t know, let me explain… In Amsterdam, a café is where you buy a cup of coffee. A coffee shop on the other hand, is where you can buy hash, weed, joints, got it? Good. Then there’s “smart shops”… These are where you can legally, over the counter, legitimately buy magic mushrooms. I know… Who would’ve thought that such a place existed on Earth!?!?! They have all kinds of menus for all the different types available, and of the, errrr, ummm… Effects. It’s completely random.

The prostitutes are all in windows, normally in their underwear, and believe me they come in all shapes and sizes. I later found out that the oldest working prostitute there is 74 years old. Ewww! Time for a career change honey!

But there is so much more to the city than the red light district, fascinating as it is.

The place I was most dying to see was the Anne Frankhuis, the place where Anne Frank actually hid with her family and wrote the famous Diaries before sadly not surviving the concentration camps of the Holocaust. Walking through the house and hearing the stories again was really emotive, really sad. Like she puts a face to so many stories. The museum is so well done, I actually learned a whole lot while I was there, it’s so horrible to think of what people what through not so long ago. I don’t know how long we stayed there but I think that everyone that walks out of that place does so with a heavy heart, depressed about the atrocious realities of life and death and past and present.

Sorry to dampen the mood… I’ll try to change that. Sexmuseum Amsterdam. Kinda says it all, huh? Well, it could possibly be the trashiest place I’ve ever been (probably isn’t though!) It’s really hard to explain this place.

It was like, when in Amsterdam, kinda have to go there, you know? But it was more comical than anything… Porn throughout the ages… Who would’ve thought that there was porn hundreds of years ago (yes, I‘ve seen the ancient Greek art before)… There were so many random exhibits… There was a butt stuck to the wall that, ummm, how do I say this nicely… It passed wind at you and then giggled as you walk by, there were life sized mannequins doing all sorts of nasty things… Just really trashy stuff… I’d say don’t bother going there, but believe me, if you are there you will see the sign and have to see it for yourself!!! It’s all good fun I guess, provided you’re not too much of a prude.

Ok, so I’ve gone from depressing to trashy, let’s try to class it up a little, huh? Went to the Vang Gogh Museum which was brilliant… So many of his paintings and his life story, and stuff I’ve never seen before… Someone said to me a couple of days ago that it was the most boring place they’ve ever been, but I found it fascinating to see all of his random stuff right down to the scribbles he’s done in magazines and on the backs of paintings, and the plans for his masterpieces and everything, but I guess it’s not for everyone.

We all enjoyed it (we being the other randoms from the hostel who came along BTW).

Ahh… Back to trashy stuff… Did a pub crawl one night… IT… WAS… HUGE!!! I think that it was a Thursday night so everyone was out and the crawl was insane… I think that it’s safe to say that I have never had anyone physically pouring alcohol down my throat, but that’s how it was all night… They go to, like, 6 venues through the night and at every place you get a free drink… But in between and at all the venues they come around and literally pour alcohol down your neck… It was such a good night that most of us only made it to the fourth bar before we decided that was enough if we didn’t want to fall into a canal on the way home (hahaha, it must happen so often there!) But it was a great night, everyone had a blast, and guaranteed everyone also had a headache the next morning.

We danced all night and ended up with a whole group of random travellers. But definitely not the kind of night I would recommend having twice in a row… Well, unless you’re in Europe!

Another day we went on a big walking tour of the city and learned so much about the place and the history… It was amazing but I won’t bore you with all the details, just trust me, it’s interesting and like all history, it’s kinda gory sometimes too.

On my last night there Nico had some Canadian friends coming in from Denmark so we went and had a beer with them before rushing to the train station to find our way to the bus station to get to Germany. Another overnighter but well worth it to save a night’s accommodation (I‘m just a very poor backpacker now, remember!)

So, catch you in Berlin.

Peace!

Seh.

xox

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Amsterdam
photo by: pearcetoyou