Good morning Peaches! Well, this is my second week in a row of my “Travel Tuesday” trend on PNC even though it looks like this post may upload a few hours late…ugh! So I am sure this won’t actually be posted until Wednesday, but I am sure somewhere in the world it is still Tuesday ha! Anyways, this post is looking back on a trip I took with my roommates to the Netherlands, where we gallivanted around the city of Amsterdam. For any younger readers that might be viewing this I titled this Abstract and Animate in Amsterdam because this wasn’t any regular trip and some of the below content is not G-rated or even PG-rated really.
With that said, I’ll dive right into it. It will only take a person .2 sec to google anything about Amsterdam and the first two things that come up are legal drugs and prostitution. Yes, these are two true things about Amsterdam but what I loved most about Amsterdam is that there really are many different sides to it. For tourists, you certainly can go and easily buy a few joints from a coffeeshop down the street and at night see multiple sex shows for a good laugh but if this isn’t your cup of tea there is also so much history and beauty in the Netherlands. There are loads of museums from the Anne Frank House to Van Gogh, also it is one of the most architecturally pleasing cities. The homes are so abstract and not like anywhere else I have seen, not to mention all of the boat houses that line the canals. It is actually a very romantic city. You can go out to the country side and see gorgeous tulip fields and charming windmills, rent a bike and ride all day through the streets of really neat neighborhoods, enjoy a nice restaurant with a stunning view or take a slow boat ride down the canal.
Ultimately, Amsterdam reminded me of a mix of a whole bunch of cities that I like. The houses reminded me of Brooklyn, the charm reminded me of Paris, all of the bridges and canals reminded me of either Venice or even Dublin, and so much more. It was a cool trip to take towards the end of my travels because I feel like it wrapped up a lot of my feelings and experience all into one weekend.
To break things down into a little more detail, and by things I mean our own specific experience, hopefully can give you an even better idea of what Amsterdam was like. For us, we really felt like we were on a vacation this trip instead of just one of our weekend excursions. This probably, mostly had something to do with the fact that one of my roommate’s parents were able to help us out with their frequent flyer points and set us up in a hotel where there was a free unlimited buffet every evening with free and unlimited wine and beer. Also, coffee and fruit every morning to start off our days and for the first time we had the comfort of big cushy hotel beds instead of stiff hostel ones. Aka you could say we all felt like spoiled royalty a little ha. This really made things very relaxed off the bat for us.
As for the whole drug thing in Amsterdam, basically, purchasing marijuana in this city is just like going out and buying drinks in other city. Instead of going to a bar or pub though this is sold in coffeeshops. A little insight is, if there is a gap in the word coffee shop this is your any old regular cafe where you will just find an array of cappuccinos, scones, and such but when there is no gap (i.e. coffeeshop) this is a dispensary. There is a lot of different choices for products here such as a variety of different types of weed, there are also usually an assortment of edibles like brownies, cookies, muffins, cake, lollipops, etc there is even pre-rolled joints if you either don’t know how to roll or if you simply want to save time. When you walk in you are greeted at a counter by workers like at any other coffee shop and they are super helpful and informative. They realize that Amsterdam is unique in these types of sales and a lot of people have no idea what they are doing so they never make you feel stupid. The coffeeshops usually have super good music, cool decor, and in general is just a really nice place to hang out.
Now…the red light district. This definitely isn’t for the more conservative minded. No matter what I was told about De Wallen, I can’t lie it was a little surprising. Prostitutes fill the windows , attempting to seduce and entice customers into their doors. The prostitutes here, however, do not look like the typical prostitutes seen in American movies or tv shows. Most of them are attractive, in shape younger women. They take care of themselves seeing as this is a legal and recognized profession in Amsterdam. They get their nails, and hair done and work out frequently as any other job that focuses on looks such as modeling or actressing. Prostiution is actually considered a very legitimate job here so much that, “in a recent survey, 74% of Dutch citizens defined prostitution as an acceptable job and 78% felt that prostitution was just like any other job.” Goes to show that norms in your society are not the norms of another.
Finally, I want to highlight some of the more touristy things that we got to do in our short time here that we really enjoyed. We definitely played around the Iamsterdam letters which are a must see. It is a really busy area but unlike a place like Time Square I didn’t get annoyed by this. After this, we ran into the cutest food truck fair on the way to the the Van Gogh museum. Here, we got to try a lot of the must-try foods of the Netherlands like Stroop Waffle and Amster Chips (or fries) that were made fresh right in front of us!
After we hit up the Van Gogh museum. I am a huge fan of his work and think that his story is very intriguing. Also, the museum does a really good job of laying out his life so I thought this was really cool. Speaking of museums, of course we visited the Anne Frank House and…wow! I have been to a lot of things that have to do with WWII such as the Holocaust Museum in DC and even Auschwitz in Poland, but I think that the Anne Frank House may be the most powerful out of all to me. All in all, we ended with an awesome boat ride through the canals of this adorable city and it surprisingly was super nice. I say this because I have to be honest, we weren’t most excited about doing this at first for some reason that I couldn’t tell you. It just didn’t seem exciting to us but it was a really really good way to see a lot of the city. It went at a good pace and we probably learned the most about Amsterdam from this plus after walking around or biking around all day it gives you an excuse to sit down for awhile or take cover from the rain. I can say that just a short weekend in Amsterdam was not enough time for such a cool place, I would go back in a heart beat for sure!