'You know what Amsterdam is known for right? It is the capital for sex and drugs in Europe', says a traveller that I was having a chat with in Bucharest.
I think my wide eyes and expression said it all. I was ready to defend this city that I came to love and that they are not and could not possibly be THE capital for sex and drugs trafficking. Traveller then explained that he meant their legal status. Oh! I think Traveller needs to tweak that statement of his when he next uses that to describe Amsterdam. Lol!
I did a 48 hour trip to Amsterdam and within the 48 hours, it managed to leave a profound impression and a little nugget in my heart.
Most of the sights to see are all walkable by foot or bike. I was lucky as the weather was great and I was walking everywhere.
Let's start with sights before heading to food and what else
Definitely a must see is the Anne Frank's House. Turning up with no reservations meant queueing for hours. The best way is to reserve and buy your tickets online, turn up at the reserved time and you head straight in. I especially love the final part of the exhibition which talked about her sister.
Something else that I love doing is to check for the availability of free walking tours. A lot of times I find that they provide incredible insight into the stories, history and life of the city. If you're fit and don't mind walking for 2-3 hours, definitely give this a go and even sweeter still, these tours are free but I find myself tipping when I enjoyed it so much. It is up to you if you want to tip or not and how much, I've seen people who do and don't. If you enjoyed the tour and you can, please try to as some f these guides work on tips. I think this is great especially for those who are on a budget.
I had a lovely guide who lived there for over seven years and provided us with lots of local tips ad knowledge. Her words and way in telling the story of WW2, the Jews and the locals fight against the Nazi when they realised what was happening to the Jews in their city was incredibly moving. I fell in love with their tolerance and their liberal minds from then on.
Now not everyone heads here for the history and culture. The other aspect that draws tourist in are the legality of marijuana and sex district. The red light district is segregated into different areas depending on your preference. Are you looking for hot hoochie mamas, models, Asian or Nordics? Well... You'll need to find the specific lane or just wander about.
Looking for coffee shops instead? There are quite a few tourist rip offs and the recommended ones are Dampkring and The Grasshopper.
The Amsterdam council is currently performing a reinvention of Amsterdam and are no longer going to renew these licences when they expire. This means the number of coffee shops are slowly dwindling Booths previously used by the ladies who provide services are also slowly being taken back and replaced with artworks and fashion instead.
So if you want to experience Amsterdam with its infamous image, try to go soon before all this changes.
Now it wouldn't be me if I didn't blog about the food too, please go to Part 2 where I had some really awesome food.