My time in Amsterdam has left me knowing three things.
- You can never be prepared enough for Amsterdam’s weather. Is it hot? Is it cold? Raining? Sunny? I have never been in a city that is so uncertain of it’s climate. (And I grew up in Melbourne…) During each day in Amsterdam (though I was there for a short while.) I changed my clothes at least three times a day because I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. If you are travelling to Amsterdam over summer, please pack accordingly. (Your entire wardrobe.)
- Cyclists ride wherever the hell they like. Seriously, the city of Amsterdam harbours almost 850,000 bicycles. There are more bicycles than people – it is INSANE. Not only this, but it seems as though the cyclists target pedestrians with an unprovoked rage as they ring their bell and peddle towards you faster than the cars can seem to travel in the traffic.
- I have never felt as free as I did while in Amsterdam. John Green wrote “Some tourists think Amsterdam is the city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom, and in freedom most people find sin.” I would imagine this comes about due to Amsterdam’s reputation – the Red Light District, the Marijuana found in the coffee shops in the form of brownies or the space cookies sitting themselves in every tourist shop you walk past. Speaking to locals, however – informed us that Amsterdam being so open to marijuana (Even though it isn’t actually legal there) has decreased the number of arrests due to drug possession. Think about it- people always want something they can’t have! Compared to some other European cities Amsterdam has a lesser amount of arrests due to drug possession. – Which I believe is due to it being so readily available to everyone. I would imagine for a local, the warranty would wear off. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, hence the Red Light District. With the freedom given to them, all these girls are willing, consenting adults who pay rent, tax and have weekly health checks, according to locals. I would never personally become a prostitute, but hey… If a man wants to pay for Sex and a Woman is consenting and accepting the offer why the hell not? Who am I to judge?
I spent three days in Amsterdam and I feel as though I genuinely fulfilled everything on my bucket list, and so alas, here are 10 out of the ordinary things you need to put on your bucket list for your next trip to Amsterdam.
1. Visit the Royal Palace.
This massive historic building is located in the heart of Amsterdam, walking distance from all your central hotels and is quite a sight for the eyes, both on the inside and the outside. It is the official residence of the King of Holland (yup.. holland has a king.) In fact, it’s often referred to as ‘The Kingdom of the Netherlands.’
2. Eat a Waffle.
I have eaten a few waffles in my time – who isn’t obsessed with oddly shaped dough, cooked to perfection between two plates, sprinkled with icing sugar with that delicious crunch we all love? Mmm… sounds healthy. I never would have picked Amsterdam to be big into their waffles… Brownies maybe, but not waffles. Yet as my mother and I walked towards the royal palace and past a bakery, we couldn’t help but walk backwards (Literally like in the movies) towards the delicious smell coming from inside. When you’re in Amsterdam, please treat yourself to a Waffle. That’s 218 calories I certainly don’t regret.
3. Check out all of Amsterdam’s odd museums.
Yes, I meant ‘odd’ museums, not ‘Old’ museums. I think the dutch just want to make everything a museum. Walking through the streets you see street signs saying ‘Museum of Ducks,’ ‘Museum of Cows,’ ‘Museum of Spectacles,’ ‘Torture Museum,’ ‘Sex Museum, ‘Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum,’ and ‘Museum of Cats,’ just to name a few.
4. Rent a Bike and Cycle around the city.
While in Amsterdam, the city of bikes – how could you not? but be warned, the local cyclists are scary, and the tourist cyclers are worse.
5. Experience the ‘Red Light District.’
Unless you’re overly prude. The Red Light District is quite interesting – The woman stand in the windows, usually wearing lingerie or nothing at all and they are lit up by red lights. When the curtains close, it means someone is in there with them. Unlike most countries around the globe, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands (When done legally), and locals have great respect for the ladies. Leave your camera at your hotel though – it is incredibly frowned upon to take photographs in the Red Light District, with large graffiti saying ‘RESPECT OUR LADIES, NO PHOTOS.’
6. Sit on the Amsterdam Sign.
All major cities have them! The Amsterdam sign is located near the Van Gogh museum in one of the cities most popular squares ‘museumplein’ – name rightfully given as I believe there were upward of three museums there. I recommend getting here early to try dodge the tourists.
7. Walk along the Canals.
Just walk, and think about how cool it is that you’re in Amsterdam! You will notice that there are multiple house boats located all along the canals, but don’t be tempted – it costs upward of 1 million euros just for the land (or lack there of.) Amsterdam is often named as the ‘Venice of the North.’ with Canals stretching over 100 kilometres throughout the city. Parts of Holland are up to 6 meters below sea level (which might be the reason for the incompetent weather.)
8. Head to a Coffee Shop.
Okay, this one may not be for everyone, but Amsterdam is the city of freedom and apparently also the city of sin. Coffee shops in Amsterdam don’t actually sell coffee… who figured? Be ready to pay a hefty buck because the brownies at these coffee shops don’t come cheap.
9. Take a day trip the Zaanse Schaans.
Less than an hour out of the city you will find the home of one of Hollands original few working windmills. Zaanse Schaans is one of the most picturesque places I have ever been to and gives you the feel of traditional holland without venturing too far away from the city. While it looks like a tourist destination, people actually live here! and if you are lucky you will see some locals riding their bikes. While Zaanse Schaans itself was beautiful, my favourite part was definitely the cheese tasting. Open to the public and free of charge! I think I may have gained 3 kilos on that day alone. You can also purchase cheese to take home, and I can confirm from experience that it can all be bought back into Australia without any issues! Customs was a breeze! I must look like i’m selling it as I bought so much cheese. Cheese platter at my place anyone?
10. Do shots at the Amsterdam Ice bar.
This activity was my mothers favourite. By far. Nothing like shots to warm you up in -10 degrees right? Value for money here is awesome with 20 euros getting you 3 drinks and entrance into the Ice Bar. Definitely put this one on your Amsterdam bucket list and remember… the drinking age in Europe is 18.
There we have it, some checks off my Amsterdam bucket list.