I feel like when many people picture Amsterdam, they think of a more chill Vegas: prostitutes dancing in the windows and everyone smoking weed in the streets. We’ll be honest, we thought the same thing. Most of our predictions were true, but what caught us off guard was how beautiful the city was. Even in late November, the weather was gorgeous and we had a blast going in and out of quirky stores (if anyone doesn’t know this, Caroline is obsessed with cheese! Here’s the picture proof), strolling by the canal, and watching street performers at Dam square.
Except for those DAMN pigeons. While minding our own business, an enormous flock of them swarmed around us. I physically hid myself behind Caroline, fearing that one of them would attack me or take a crap on my head. It was terrifying. I can’t even describe to you what kinds of sounds were coming from our mouths-something between a screech/laugh/cry for help. When the pigeons finally left us in peace, we both had tears streaming down our faces from laughing so hard and from embarrassing ourselves, yet again, in a public place. I can guarantee our battle with the pigeons was far more entertaining than the 50-year-old break dancers performing nearby, if only someone had a camera…
Enough about those godawful creatures. Here’s our take on Amsterdam’s infamous amenities and attractions:
The canals-It’s not called the “Venice of the North” for nothing. With over 250 canals, it’s definitely a must-do to take a canal tour. We took one at night, which gave us a totally different perspective on the city with everything lit up. On the tour, you get a headset and listen to the history of the city as you float past ritzy neighborhoods, museums and bridges.
The bikes-It’s no lie, there are a TON of bikes. But honestly, I didn’t notice them as much as I thought I would. The city does such a great job of having enough bike racks and giving bikers their own lane. But be warned: bikers have no mercy. When crossing the street, cars are the least of your worries. These suckers fly by you so fast and most don’t use their bells, so you’re screwed if you’re not paying attention.
Fun fact: Over 60,000 bikes get stolen in Amsterdam each year
Prostitution-The notorious red light district. Something everyone has heard of and most are curious to see. So what does legal and indiscreet prostitution look like? Pretty boring actually. The workers range in body type, age and what they’re wearing. Most of them looked bored, were texting on their phones or chatting with workers next door. We thought they’d be dancing to try and solicit buyers, but honestly there was no need. Hoards of people were openly oogling and stopping in the middle of the street to stare.
Weed-No surprise here, but with weed being legal, it’s influence on the city is pretty evident. People casually smoke on the streets (a large amount of older people too, who knew?) and coffee shops are littered throughout the city. So why call it a “coffee shop” if you can smoke in public? Here’s what the good ol' internet had to say:
Cannabis has been decriminalized in this city since the 1960’s. This means it is not a criminal offense to use or carry cannabis. But it is not legalised. Cannabis is bought and sold illegally. The Dutch trait for discretion permeates into this industry – they are not called “Cannabis Cafés”, but “Coffee-shops” for a reason. It is illegal to advertise the consumption of cannabis. *Info provided by: https://funamsterdam.com/
Iamsterdam sign- Since it's a famout tourist landmark, of course we were basic enough to make a special trip out to see it. Props to groups who got pictures of just themselves with the sign. Even in the freezing rain, we were still fighting other tourists for a spot. On the plus side, it’s right behind the Rijksmuseum and ice rink, so you get three activities in one.
What we would do differently-This city is so much more dynamic, cultural and architecturally varied than what people initially think. 48 hours was hardly enough time to take in everything this city had to offer. With over 70 museums alone, you could spend at least five days here without ever getting bored.
**Tip: Get the 48 hour transportation pass at the airport! You can hop onto any train, tram or metro. Since the city is pretty spread out, it’s worth the money.
Amsterdam, you were something else. Thanks for surprising us with your charm; we’ll be back someday.