It is a beauty. There, I said it. You know how you go to a place and you feel its over rated. That’s something that won’t happen in Amsterdam.
First of all, I had no expectations from Amsterdam. You know how so many people talk about visiting Amsterdam and the ones who have visited it find it one of the best places they have been to. I, on the other hand, was pretty much unaware. I mean I knew that there exists a place called Amsterdam but that was pretty much it. I know, shocking! So, most of the ‘stuff’ I got to know only when I started preparing my itinerary. I should mention here that Amsterdam is built in a very beautiful manner, like, there’s a canal cut between every two streets. Think of concentric circles, where every other circle is a street & the one adjacent to it is a canal. I’ll probably make it and update it!
We reached there in the evening. We started off by visiting Dam Square, the central tourist-y square in Amsterdam. There’s nothing so special about it except few old good architectural buildings which are now converted into shopping plazas, like the Magna Plaza. Oh, and, this is the place from where mostly all the city walking tours begin.
I wanted to have some Thai/Indo-Chinese and there’s a place called ‘China Town’ in Amsterdam which has lots of such restaurants. That place is like next to the Red Light District. Visiting the Red Light district is a very important experience as a tourist in Amsterdam. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and they have probably the biggest (and I mean really HUGE!!!) red light district in the world. So, we thought we’ll combine the visits.
Red Light district is a very, very different experience for any tourist. There are few really huge streets lined with red light parlours with str*p clubs & s*x show theatres thrown in between. Not to mention the ero*ic shops. Girls keep standing behind the glass doors in most of these parlours. It is an extremely safe place. You are not allowed to click pictures, and at any given point, if you look up, you can see at least 5 cameras pointed at you. The police is very supportive and helpful towards the people working here. When I conceived it in my head, I thought of a place where I’ll find very few people but good red light parlours (because I have seen them in a Bollywood movie ‘queen’). I was wrong in one aspect, the place was literally brimming with people, all tourists! It has become such a tourist spot that if you don’t manage to see a girl behind those glass doors, you won’t realize you’re there. In fact, we entered an ero*ic shop and asked if they could please tell us the way to the red light district. This is what they said,”This is the red light district. You are already in it”. As we moved forward, we started seeing parlours with girls standing behind glass doors. The first few minutes you can have any sort of emotion, disturbing, intriguing, surprising, exciting or any other. After a while, you become so used to the site. It becomes a very regular thing. With so many crowds and so many parlours, it becomes a familiar site for you after some time.
After walking here for a long while, we moved to have dinner in an Indian restaurant (yep, couldn’t find an Indo-Chinese one 😛 ). Amsterdam is very famous for its night life and clubbing. Two places – Rembrandtplein & Leidseplein – are the squares having most of the best clubs. I forgot to mention that due to some last minute changes in our group plans, we didn’t have a place to stay yet in Amsterdam. We were thinking to stay at one of my friends’ place but we were not able to reach to her. So, we thought that we’ll visit both the clubbing squares & if we don’t manage to meet her, we’ll spend the night in a club. She had also mentioned previously that she wanted to go clubbing, we thought she could join there. Since we were there on a weekend, both the squares were full of people dressed in their best for clubbing & the places were full of life! With so much of crowd around us since the time we arrived in Amsterdam, we felt its a bit of India! 😛 Not to mention that there’s a lot of English speaking population here. We liked both the lively squares but were pretty exhausted by midnight and still weren’t able to reach my friend. Finally, that happened and we crashed at her place in the hope that tomorrow will be a less tiring day.
We started the day by joining a city tour that starts from Dam Square. It took us along Begijnhof, few museums from outside and the Central station, along with, of course, the Red Light district again. We also did a canal tour, which I think is a good thing to do. It gives a happy & beautiful view of the city. Although if you are really crunched on money (in which case you should totally reconsider visiting Amsterdam as its very expensive!), you can skip the canal tour because its just like any other canal tour, but in a very beautiful city. 🙂
Our last part of the day was spent in Museumplein, this is the place where that famous ‘I Amsterdam’ stucture is. Its a very touristy thing to get a picture clicked in front of it, that’s why we went. After this, we had to run to board our bus back to Berlin! 🙂
Now for my favorite part of every travel post, here are the tit-bits from my side if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam:
- Amsterdam is one city which is not only beautiful but also has lots to do. Things people generally consider fun. So, give enough time to the city.
- Amsterdam and Netherlands in general is famous for beautiful tulips, so plan your trip in Spring.
- Other than Red Light district, Amsterdam is famous for Marijuana which is ‘legally accepted’ here. It is famous for its hash brownies, which you already must be knowing if you know the marijuana bit about Amsterdam. Two fun stories about it I want to share that our city tour guide told us. First of all, many people think that weed is legal in Amsterdam, that’s not true. Its legally accepted. When the hippy culture was at its peak, the drug problem started getting really bad. In order to curb the bigger & more dangerous drugs, authorities thought that let people have this simple, less harmful type of thing and that’s how it became legally accepted. The second story is that weed shops in Amsterdam are known as coffee shops. The first time I heard that term I got very confused as to why is visiting a coffee shop such a must do. Then, eventually I got to know. It got named because it didn’t feel very appealing to call these places weed shops, so these shops started serving coffee etc. alongside. If you want to go to a real coffee shop, better call it Cafe. In Amsterdam, if you ask for coffee shop, people will direct you to a weed shop.
- Amsterdam has a hell lot of museums. If you are into history, you’ll love museum hopping here.
- Amsterdam is very cosmopolitan. You can find all sorts of cuisines here and there’s a large English speaking population.
- Amsterdam is very expensive. Stay, food, museum tickets, canal tours, s*x shows or whatever you fancy, so plan accordingly.
- There are some tulip gardens a bit far from Amsterdam which are very famous, but are only open during a certain time of the year. Better plan accordingly & keep a day for those.
- There’s another place Rotterdam near Amsterdam which is considered to be a good place to go. You can keep one day for it too, I don’t know what that city s about, maybe you can Google that up.
- Since it is a fun city, it would be a good thing to combine your visit with one of Amsterdam’s festivals, be it their light festival or King’s day.
Wow! This became long unexpectedly, as writing it was totally a breeze. I am sorry if my trip did not give much insights, because I was very tired during this trip, hence, didn’t pay too much attention to the difficult names of places. If you read till here, please share your thoughts in the comments section. 🙂