Amsterdam was never very high up on my bucket list, I must admit, but when the opportunity presented itself I obviously couldn’t say no. And not only that I absolutely loved it, but it’s made its way into my top three cities I’d like to live in (Barcelona is still front position though).
It’s a city of freedom, a place where everyone can be who they want to be. There is luxury, there is poverty, there is culture, there is debauchery – and you are completely free which side of the spectrum you want to explore.
I loved the diversity given by the high number of expats – not sure how much the Dutch love it though, as the city is definitely overpopulated, by inhabitants and tourists alike, one of the consequences being a very competitive real estate market.
I usually like to make my articles as informative as possible, with prices, recommendations, means of transportation etc., but this time I haven’t got much info to report as I did not plan a single thing for this trip. Its sole purpose was to completely relax, go with the flow and enjoy the moment – and that was possible because a good friend of mine who lives there took me in and did all the thinking for me. (My eternal gratitude to you for that!). Also, there was a lot of wine involved, so some details are a bit fuzzy 😀
The respect for nature is one of the first things I notice when I enter a country and the Dutch surely do a great job when it comes to this. There is green everywhere, a lot of parks, flowers, lakes, canals and so on. They are very outdoorsy people and no matter how shitty the weather, they’re out there on their bikes, jogging, walking the dog, just enjoying themselves.
One of the largest and most famous parks in Amsterdam is Vondelpark. I didn’t have much time to explore it unfortunately, but I did bike through it and stopped by this pretty lake for a few moments (I was mostly attracted by those amazing houses in the backdrop, I admit).
I spent most of my time in awe at how perfectly beautiful everything was. Nature and architecture are my two favourite things to admire when travelling, and there’s plenty of both in the Netherlands. Just passing by all these amazing houses, each one with its own personality and character. Perfection! The best part: walking around after dark and being able to see a bit of the interior as well, as most of them don’t have any curtains. (Please someone tell me I’m not the only one who does this…)
The next stop after Vondelpark was the very famous Rijksmuseum, made so by the even more famous #iamsterdam sign located in front of it until not long ago. The local authorities decided to take it off though as it became too much of an Insta spot and attracted way too many tourists.
I didn’t go inside as, however superficial it may sound, museums bore the life out of me, but, for a museum lover, Amsterdam is the place to be as there are tons of them.
The next day the weather was not great, it was cold, windy and rainy, but we decided to go out and make the most out of it. We didn’t want to go see the canals just yet as we were hoping the weather would turn around by noon, so we just biked along the Amstel river, went to have some fries at Manneken Pis, which are apparently the best fries in the Netherlands and then crossed the river to see the city from the other side. There are ferries that run every few minutes from Amsterdam Centraal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the city as the weather had gotten really bad by that time and the wind was absolutely crazy, so we headed back to the city.
An interesting thing to do when the weather allows it is to go up to the A’DAM lookout. This is a deck on a 20 story building overlooking Amsterdam. For adrenaline junkies, they have an over the edge swing that’s worth giving a shot.
By the time we made our way back to the city, the sky was clearing out and there were even a few rays of sun. This is where things get a bit fuzzy and I’m a bit uncertain about the timeline. I saw many bridges and canals, that’s for sure. And some statues. And lots of beautiful buildings.
I remember one thing though, I asked my friends why most of the buildings are slightly tilted forward and have a big hook at the top. He explained that most of these buildings were actually warehouses before and they used the hooks to lift the goods up. The buildings being tilted, there was less risk to hit the walls. Just in case you were wondering, now you know!
Another thing the Netherlands is famous for is, of course, cheese. There are lots of cheese shops around the city where you can go in and have a tasting. We stumbled upon this one and tried a few of the cheeses. The extra old goat cheese was to die for. They actually deliver worldwide so you can thank me for that later.
The flower market is definitely worth a visit, though there aren’t as many flowers as I would’ve expected, it’s mostly bulbs. But, bulbs make a great souvenir, especially for mums, your mum will love you for it, trust me! Or you can get her some cannabis seeds, depending on how hippie your mum is 😀 Though it’s probably not legal to get them out of the country… Or is it? Does anyone know?
The last stop of the day was in the Jordaan neighbourhood, where the most picturesque canals seem to hang out. And just look at those buildings, oh my God, can I just go back now, please!?
Red Light District
On the third and final day it just rained and rained, so we stayed in for most of the day. I really wanted to go see the Red Light district as well, it’s just something you have to do when in Amsterdam, so when the rain eventually stopped we went to see the girls. It was a bit shocking, yet fascinating at the same time. Though it really wasn’t my scene, and at times I felt a bit unsafe, especially with all the people trying to sell you cocaine and heroin, I think when it comes to prostitution, it’s a way healthier attitude to accept it, legalise it and somewhat keep it under control rather than try to deny it and hide it under the mat. Humans have always had this fascination for sexual practices, ever since the beginning of times, so really, why not embrace it?
As I said in the beginning, Amsterdam is all about freedom and personal choice, and I chose to enjoy all the nature, the architecture, the scenery, the cheese, the flowers. And the fact that I managed not to get myself killed on that bike for three days straight! Kudos to me! 🙂