Amsterdam has received a reputation of debauchery, gluttony and indulgences over the centuries. Even the Pilgrims that settled America lived in the area only to move due to the “evils” of the place.
What better place to go on vacation!
Amsterdam gets a lot of bad press and a lot of people I’ve met seem to think of the city as a free-for-all haven of drugs and sex. This is not the case. Rather it is a country that is more liberal than most others.
The city is even taking steps to prevent tourist from taking part in the marijuana coffeeshops, and in 2013 there will be new measures making it more difficult for tourist to smoke pot in them.
In October 2010, my wife Kate and I found ourselves in the “Venice of the North” on a daytrip. As our train rolled through the Dutch countryside we were treated to beautiful views of the farms and villages along the tracks. The Dutch are extremely eco-friendly, and the amount of bicycles being ridden or parked outside buildings was unreal. The Dutch government has provided their citizens with wonderfully safe bike paths, and some even stretch the entire length of the country. The Dutch are obviously doing their part in taking care of the world.
As we disembarked the train and stepped out of Amsterdam train station we were met by a cold North Sea breeze and constant mist. Typically, this kind of weather would ruin trips. However, it felt like the gray skies and the city’s architecture went hand in hand.
Before we set out for Amsterdam Kate encouraged me to find places to see in the city. I ignored her suggestions and would live to regret it. If I would have done some research I would have realized the Heineken Beer museum is located in the city. As much Heineken as I have drank I’m still unsure how I didn’t realize this.
Well, since then I’ve been kicking myself for missing out on what is called the Heineken Experience. Apparently, it’s so awesome it is called an experience rather than museum.
Regardless, on the day we would hit two museums: One a must see and the other a place to have your picture taken in front of.
After getting off the train we walked about a kilometer into the downtown area – a kilometer is about .6 miles for thus unsure. There we found a slightly non-descript building known as the Amsterdam Sex Museum.
This isn’t for everyone, but I must say it was fantastic and definitely for me. It was only $6 US, which was a bargain – especially compared to the museum we went to later. Basically, the museum is what it says on the sign and brings elements of sex and pornography into one place for museum-goers. You can even get your picture taken with a huge erect cock. I did!
Now after spending over an hour wandering through the sex museum we walked to the Anne Frank House Museum. I found Anne Frank’s House to be quite passable and I advise against it, unless you love the Diary of Anne Frank book or you’re a WWII buff.
The house/museum is in a lovely part of town facing a canal. The walk in the autumn was very enjoyable despite the cold and drizzle. I guess if Anne could have looked out the window while she was locked away, she would have enjoyed the views.
After the sheer awesomeness of the Sex Museum, I was quite disappointed by Anne’s house. I love history, but it felt so bland. Even before going inside I was turned off by the loud, fat American tourists behind me complaining about their plane seats being too small. By the time I paid my $12 US I was pissed off – overpriced.
Kate liked the Anne Frank Museum (it was her second time to see it), however, I did not. Literally, there wasn’t much to see. I guess the whole selling point is for visitors to experience the tight corridors that Anne and her family lived in. My advice is to keep your $12 and just take some photos outside. There’s more to see.
To finish off the day we set off for the red-light district in the middle of the day. Obviously, we weren’t out to purchase a prostitute, rather we wanted to see what the area looked like. And it looked very similar to the other parts of the city we’d already been through – nice.
The only difference was the amount of coffeeshops and bars, and the inclusion of brothels. Prostitution has long been legal in Amsterdam, and many probably associate the two – or Amsterdam and pot.
Though crime seems to have risen in the area over the last 10-20 years, it was very tame on a weekday afternoon. Consequently, there were not many prostitutes showing off their wares. For those unaware they don’t walk the streets, but stand in a shop window waiting for a John (customer) to make a choice.
Fulfilling my desire to check out the red-light district we retreated to a canal-side café for beers. We finished our day in Amsterdam sitting outside watching the people walk by. It was an absolutely beautiful way to finish our time there.
This is the point it dawned on me that the Heineken Museum is located in Amsterdam. But with only a couple hours until our train it would be impossible to see it.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city in a beautiful country. Spending a few days would have been much better than cramming a few things into one. Also, getting to experience the country’s nightlife would have been great.
Though I’d like to live in the Netherlands, I don’t think I could live in Amsterdam due to the amount of tourists. As a city one of those places that I can visit, but don’t feel like I could live there. However, given the chance I’d probably change my mind.