Many tourists go to Amsterdam for one of the three following reasons: Sex, drugs, or flowers. But myself and my friends weren’t necessarily going for any of the three reasons. We did obviously want to try out the local delicacy, but we really went, to experience it’s mad night life and see what the city had to offer. Looking back on our time there I can see why many of the locals get frustrated and can be seen as rude to tourists, because so are the tourists. When locals found out we were there to see the sights rather than the coffee shops and red light district they treated us differently and helped us with directions, so if you are not going for sex or drugs- stay away from the red light district and its surrounding streets- it’s full of chains of fast food places anyway, which aren’t local delicacies.
There are not many cities that meld an elaborate canal system with slim standing houses (similar in appearance to the locals that reside here), which gels so well with a modern urban flair through street art, edgy clubs and hip bars, world famous historical heritage sights, grassy parks and a booming joint smoking industry. But here, it just works.
The centre of Amsterdam is Dam square, a cobblestone square where entertainers and musicians busk for a spare penny of your change. Wander past the expensive restaurants with front row seats of the world and head to Vondel Park. The park is the largest city park in Amsterdam and is used by many as a place to cycle, exercise, dog walking, jogging or cloud watching. Its close proximity to the Van Goph Museum and a number of other museums, means its the perfect place to rest tired feet after exploring Amsterdam and its many wonderful pieces of art. A visit to the Van Goph Museum is a must as Van Goph is an artistic gem to Amsterdam. Wander through the halls exploring the many creative and expressive pieces of art he has created and be memorized by the famous paintings such as ‘Starry Night Over The Sky’ or ‘Sunflowers’.
Spend a day hiring bikes out and cycling around the city, which is the best and easiest option to see the city, and one that all locals do on a daily basis. Although cycling in Amsterdam is a whole new level of cycling as bikes have the right of way on the road, as well as various complex bike lanes and rules. You can spot the tourists trying to manage the cycle system by their clumsiness and bright yellow bikes, whilst the locals have it down to a T, with no hands casually admiring their city in all its splendour. We took our bikes to Anne Frank’s house which is a must visit if you go to Amsterdam. I advise getting their either early in the morning or late afternoon as lunch time is suppose to be extremely busy, we went in the afternoon and only waited 30 minutes.
Head over to Jordaan, the neighbourhood that really is the cherry on top of the delicious cake which is Amsterdam. After exploring each creamy layer of history, art, night life and herbs, cycle to this district and fall in love. This area is nothing but highlights, as street art encompasses the streets, women smoke with cigarette holders and don red lipstick, laughing people dine on Dutch delights, art galleries and furniture shops are filled to the brim as if Aladdin’s treasure chest, and boutique shops take you back to various time periods: this area is enriched with hidden courtyards and true Dutch living.
I also recommend taking a canal boat tour, although seemingly pricey, it is interesting to see the city by river acknowledging it through a different viewpoint and you receive some great knowledge on the tour of the city itself.
Following recommendations from our receptionist we were told to head to Sugar Factory near Ledesplein square. Getting off the tram we recognized that this square was a gem with its cobbled streets and bars surrounding the square, it really is a perfect place to people watch and chat endlessly over pints of Henieken. Sugar factory is great on a Monday due its busy, and energetic house night they host.
My favourite night though, and one which I researched in advance to us travelling there, was Bitterzoet. Set in a converted church this night had a skilful DJ that managed to start with RnB songs and make his way delicately and well delivered through to hip hop, then on to house and drum n bass. I was impressed by Amsterdam’s nights at this point and recognized that further off the beaten track you go off tourism, the better. Search for underground sub culture music dens that locals follow with their skanking shoes.
As I said before, a percentage of tourists that come are here to experience the sex industry, that is world famous. Their style of ‘shopping’ for women is entirely different to any other Red Light District in the world, it provides a look but not touch appeal to seedy clients which provides some safety and security, as well as the women deciding for themselves, who their clientèle are. Although I am disgusted by the sex industry and how it generates women to be and the men who fuel the industry, if wanting to sleep with a prostitute, here is the safest, cleanest and most good looking women on the planet to do so.
Also on a side note, if you do want to to head to some coffee shops to “try the local delicacy” or merely people watch (its fun too) both Hill Street Blues and the Dolphin Coffee Shop were interesting places to visit.