Let’s be honest, Amsterdam has a bad reputation. Sex and drugs. Legal.
Let’s start with the obvious. Yes, marijuana and prostitution is legal in Amsterdam. If you’ve ever wandered through the streets and thought “What is that smell?” as you’re passing by a “Coffee Shop”, well, I can tell you one thing, it definitely isn’t the sweet aroma of a latte. But smoking weed is legal in these places of establishment, and likely a large draw to most tourism. In fact, I’m fairly certain a lot of kids come here and never leave. Some coffee shops are more discreet, while others broadcast it, (i.e. “Smokey’s Coffee Shop” front and center in the main tourist plaza).
Ok, now for the other point. Without going into too much detail, the infamous Red Light District indeed brings new meaning to the term “Window Shopping”. That being said, I still believe every traveler should experience (from afar!) the culture and at least take a leisurely stroll through the alleys. Warning: This is not for the faint of heart!
Also, don’t be alarmed by all of the other, shall we say… “Shows”? If you’re easily offended or made uncomfortable by provocative images, then perhaps you should stay in the Rembrandt Square. I simply found it all to be entertaining. Not one I would ever partake in, clearly. But to each their own.
Personally, I found the beauty in the simple things. It’s in the canals, the flower pots hanging from every terrace and bridge, it’s in the ringing of the bicycle bells as hundreds (literally) pass you by in a matter of 30 seconds. It’s in the sidewalk cafes and the pleasant locals. It’s in roaming the streets and popping into little boutiques.
As much as Amsterdam is known for it’s less socially acceptable traits, I prefer to believe it’s better known for: Heineken, tulips, clogs, cheese, and windmills. That’s my picturesque definition of Amsterdam 🙂
Amsterdam, you’re beautiful and I’m looking forward to the day I return and can explore more of your green, lush, and flat countryside.
And a HUGH shoutout to our dear friends Paul and Evianne, whom we originally met in Chile back in April, toured through Bolivia with and then got to catch up with them in their homeland of the Netherlands! Love and miss you both already! And congrats on your engagement!!
2015 Bucket List Complete:
- Heineken Factory Tour
- Canal Boat Tour
- Stroll through the Red Light District
- Eat Holland Cheese
- Find an Airbnb on a boat
- Flower Parade – April/May
- Visit the Anne Frank House
- Buy tulip bulbs
- Rent bikes
- SO green, beautiful, and extremely flat.
- Known for their festivals. Be sure to come back someday for one.
- Tulips everywhere!
- More bikes per capita, more than anywhere else in the world
- Anne Frank house had a line that literally wraps around the entire block and cathedral. Must be a 3 hour wait – Go before they open or before they close and be prepared to wait. Also, buy tickets online months in advance.
- Buy Heineken Factory tour tickets from Cobra Cafe by the Rijks Museum (Van Goh Museum) and “I Amsterdam” famous photo spot. They’re cheaper and you won’t have to wait in line at the factory.
- Eat at Sal Mueda, Argentina restaurant, delicious and authentic.