September of last year (2016) I began to write this post on our experience in Amsterdam, and not sure why but I had complete writers block. I really couldn't figure out what to say and how to say it. Truthfully, I think it's because I came away from Amsterdam wondering if I loved the city or wasn't fond of it. There were parts I loved and parts I hated and goodness I just couldn't bring myself to finishing this post. Well, one year after our trip I finally forced myself to finish this post. It might not be my best work, but gosh darn-it it's finished finally!! Whoo-hoo! Well here it is, our Amsterdam experience --
In August we began our month long European adventure, starting in Amsterdam. This was our first time in Amsterdam and we really didn't know what to expect. Of course when you first think of the city, pot leaves and prostitutes probably cross your mind... at least they did mine, but I was sure there was probably much more to the famous city than that, so I was excited to explore it. Before our trip I did a bit of research on the city, just the basic things like what to see. You can find that list in my what to do and see in Amsterdam and Italy post.
My favorite part of this city was the canals. The water was beautiful, they are surrounded by quaint buildings, and there are always boats passing along each canal. Like much of Europe, you can feel the history all around you in this city. Another thing I loved about Amsterdam was the beautiful parks. We walked through Vondelpark and Museumplein, but I know there are other parks around town we didn't get to walk through that were probably amazing too. It was so fun to see everyone hanging out in the parks, reading, having a picnic, napping, hanging out with friends, etc. It gave you the feel that the city is very community based and the locals seem to love it.
There are so many famous art museums in Amsterdam. I'm not even a big art fan and I really enjoyed those. Seeing so many famous paintings in real life was such an experience to remember. You don't have to be an art junkie to know names like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Seeing their paintings in real life was so impressive, these guys are clearly famous for a reason. Like I said I'm not big into art, but I had a wonderful time touring the Rijks Museum and would totally recommend it to anyone visiting Amsterdam. We didn't get a chance to go into the Van Gogh Museum but if we go back to Amsterdam I'll for sure add it to my list of must dos.
Another thing I loved about the city were the I Amsterdam signs. It's such a blast to watch everyone gathering around the signs and taking pictures. We saw one of the signs outside of the airport and then another one right outside of the Rijks Museum. And of course, as typical tourists do, we spent a great amount of time taking tons of cheesy photos with the sign. I even got brave and climbed on top of the sign for a fun shot (which I can't find now to add to this post dang-it).
We were surprisingly impressed with the food in Amsterdam. There was a restaurant that we went to twice while we stayed there at the beginning of our trip and then went out of our way to go back to the restaurant at the end of our trip before our flight back home. The name is Cafe De Klos and I'd 100% recommend it ( unless you're a veterinarian) and get the ribs! There's a photo below of the outside of the restaurant.
My absolute favorite part of Amsterdam was the Anne Frank house. You grow up reading The Diary Of Anne Frank in school which totally pulls on your heart strings, but nothing can compare to touring the ACTUAL house that her and her family hid out in. They've turned the house into such an amazing museum to tour and walk through, loading you with history on the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. I've always found World War II to be one of the most interesting times to learn about in history, so that might be why I enjoyed touring the Ann Frank house so much, but I'd recommend anyone who visits Amsterdam to tour it.
With all that being said, there are many things about this city I could do without. The insane amounts of bicycles that are everywhere left me stressed out as we walked around the city. When I'm in a new place I want to be able to marvel at everything around me, but it was super difficult to do so in Amsterdam without having bikes wizz past you and pretty much run you right over. Now, I'm sure there are some of you reading this and the bikes are what you love about Amsterdam, but for me I just thought it was a bit much. The idea of biking through one of the stunning parks sounds nice, but the city just seemed too hectic for it. I do love that the city has a fit culture though, that's awesome and I can respect that. However, I wasn't a fan of having to be on defense all the time so that I didn't get hit by a bike.
I couldn't write about Amsterdam without mentioning the pot and prostitutes. I'm of course not saying that is all the city has to offer ( because that's absolutely not the case ), but it sure is a part of the culture there and it's definitely something that is unique to Amsterdam. Let's start with the weed... I currently live in Denver and unless you live under a rock then you know that people smoking marijuana isn't a huge shock to us. I personally don't smoke pot, but it is legal here too. In Amsterdam if you want to find some weed, look for a "cafe" or a "coffee shop". If you're looking for a nice cappuccino or latte and you waltz into a coffee shop in Amsterdam, you'll be very disappointed. To be honest, this part didn't bother me about the city, I really couldn't care either way. But the Red Light District is another story. We walked through the RLD during the day and fairly quick, but we were curious about it and wanted to see it with our own eyes. Well, it really is all that you hear about. As a woman, seeing the women in the windows selling their bodies just made me so sad. It made me sad for them. How and why did they get to that place in their life where that seemed like the best option for them? I wondered if at night they go home feeling dirty, used and worthless. Or are they so numb to it that they go home feeling nothing? I couldn't help but think about all of this as we walked through the famous Red Light District, with a pit in my stomach from pure disgust. It makes me sad that people, tourists, come to this city purely for this. Because it's "Okay" in Amsterdam. No, it's actually not "Okay" anywhere. To treat women as though they are an item, a thing, and not a human being. It's not okay at all, no matter what city you're in. Okay well now I've gone on a whole tangent about prostitution which I didn't intend on doing. But gosh the RLD made me feel some type of way...
Overall, as I reflect on our time in Amsterdam, looking at pictures and reminiscing about all that we did, I'd say it was a great experience. Even though the city might not be my all time favorite destination, I still really enjoyed exploring the Netherlands for the first time and I'm so glad we made a stop there. If you've been to Amsterdam, comment below with your thoughts on the city. I've met so many people who absolutely love the city and I'd love to hear why!