Highlights from Amsterdam
Amsterdam Travel Blog› entry 4 of 14 › view all entries
- Biking around the canals. Im not sure if anyone has seen a map of downtown Amsterdam, but the city is divided by a spiderweb of canals throughout. These all have roads and sidewalks down them, and make the city an incredibly beautiful (and complicated) place to see. Day 1 we rented bikes for 48 hours, and rodea ll around the city, stopping at the Anne Frank museum (the actual apartment where Anne and 7 other Jews hid from the Nazis for 2 years). Riding bikes in Amsterdam was a fairly frightening experience. First of all, everyone and their mother rides their bike. It was very difficult to find a spare bikerack, pole, anything to chain your bike to. Bike racks were piled with 50 bikes at every corner, it was amazing. Second, bikes and cars share all roads for the most part, and most of them drive like complete idiots. Third, there are no apparent rules governing right of way. Pedestrians, bikes, cars, and trams barrel through intersections and across streets with complete abandonment. Bike bells are constantly warning pedestrians to get the hell out of the way. More than one Vanessa and I found ourselves leaping up on the curb to avoid major collisions. Hectic...but very fun! We got to see a lot of the city on the bikes, more than we could have covered on foot.
- Free and open drug use. On every corner in Amsterdam you can find a Coffee shop or Smart shop. These are code names for Pot Cafe and Drug Store. The coffee shops allow you to buy marijuana and smoke it in their cafe, many with open patios so you can sit outside. All of them have a full menu of different types of weed to choose from. The smart shops sell everything from sexual stimulants to herbal extasy and mushrooms. We stopped by one to check it out, and ended up getting a full tutorial from the self-proclaimed Shroom Doctor. An avid drug user, he was extremely knowledgeable on everything the store sold, and more than willing to share his knowledge. Very educational.
- The Rijks and Van Gough museums. The Van Gough was our favorite, with over 200 paintings by Van Gough and several others by Monet, Picasso, and other famous artists. Very surreal seeing those signatures in real life.
- Sex museums and red light district. Of course, the one thing we had to see in Amsterdam was the red light district. It was actually incredibly strange, like window shopping but for sex. The girls are there, some of them looking much the worse for wear, just staring out at people walking by. Many you can tell have been doing it for years, and are definitely hard core drug users. Some are talking on their phone, almost ignoring people walking by. Others wink and gesture at men, dance, try to bring in business. The main street seemed to be more for the tourists, while the side alleys had the Serious Shoppers. Felt very odd to be staring at these girls, felt a strange urge to smile awkwardly and apologise for treating them like a tourist attraction. The red light district also had 2 sex museums, which were incredibly entertaining. Statues, paintings, ancient porno carved in stone. Well worth the 2 euro admission price.
- Market. On the last day we found this incredible street market with everything from fresh farmed produce to jewelry and clothing. Flower booths, fish, nuts and dried fruit. It took up about 3 blocks that was closed off to traffic. Vanessa and I bought fresh strawberries and raspberries, and wandered. Ended up buying a few necklaces and Summer Scarves (all the rage here). Very cute, very authentic. Not many tourists, so we got some strange looks carrying our backpacks around.
Thatś it for Amsterdam! Now weŕe in Prague, and absolutely loving it. My favorite so far, by far! More to come!
Hello everyone! We are now in Amsterdam, a city where pot is smoked freely on the streets and the red light district provides much half-naked entertainment. Oh, we'll have some fun here!
A note on our journey to get here, though. Since we booked our flight from Bristol (much cheaper, plus we thought we would be in the Cotswalds), we had to take a train from London to Bristol, then head to the airport. The train was about 1 1/2 hours, and we left about 2 hours extra time before our flight to get to the airport and check in. It was a little tight, but should be no problem. We get on the train, and get settled in. Our first train in Europe! They annouce Bristol as the next stop, so we start getting ready to go. The train stops, we get up and struggle to get our backpacks on. Being so heavy, this takes a few seconds. We get em on, and head to the door. The doorman sees us coming...and walks away. We get to the doors...and they're closed. We panic. A guy standing near us sticks his head out the door window and yells to the woman on the platform that there are 2 girls who still need off. She says sorry, too late. Have to go to the next stop. We look at each other in total panic as the train pulls away from the station. We had been stopped for about 45 seconds, max. A mild freakout, a nice man who worked on the train, and a lot of worrying later, we get to the next station (25 minutes from Bristol), hop on another train back, and finally make it to the airport with about 15 minutes to spare. Whew.
So we did make it to Amsterdam, and found our hostel with a little help from some fellow backpackers who saw us staring at a map in confusion on the street. They happened to be staying at the same one, so we tagged along with them and found it. This hostel is SO amazing. It really makes the London hostel look like a craphole. It looks more like a hotel than a hostel, but with more people in your room. The room has about 24 people in it, but it's a circular room and we're at the back, so noone is tramping past our beds or anything. Feels more private than the 8 person room we were in last. It also has a small closet for each person that locks, which is so awesome. Feel a little more secure, and less like I'm living out of my backpack. The breakfast is also great, with a huge selection (and sandwiches, which we've been stealing for lunches). We feel so spoiled now! Hopefully there will be more nice ones like this...but I'm betting this will be a highlight. So after we dropped our stuff, we headed out for dinner at the Hard Rock Amsterdam (so touristy, we know, but it was close and had decent food). After dinner, we came back to the room for some journal writing and crashed for the night. Needed our energy for the next 3 days in Amsterdam!!!
More to come on Amsterdam, stay posted!