Amsterdam is easily my favorite city in Europe. No, not because drugs are basically legal, but because of its overall absolute beauty. The train station (see below) was my first impression, and ended up being my favorite building in the city!
There are bikes everywhere, I actually mean WATCH OUT – people will run you over. But you can rent bikes, and join the fun.
The coffee shops live up to their hype, yes. Be careful that you don’t mistake marijuana infused coffee with regular coffee. If you are new to edibles, consult the staff to ask how much you should consume to be safe. I have somewhat of a tolerance for it, and would suggest getting a “space cake” (brownie, cookie, pastry) and eating half or more and see how you feel. You can definitely overdo it, so be cautious! You can also buy joints or bud in the shops for a decent price.
Fun Fact: I learned that weed is actually illegal in Amsterdam, contrary to popular belief. The reason they don’t enforce the law is because by paying less attention to marijuana users, and more attention to users of worse drugs, such as heroin, they have seen the crime rate and drug use rate drop. I think it’s a fabulous idea.
So, you can walk into coffee shops, buy an edible or beautiful flower itself, and sit there and enjoy it. You’re not supposed to parade around the streets using it, but really, whose stopping you.
Where to stay? There a tons of affordable hostels with fun environments on the outskirts of the Red Light District. I had a wonderful experience with St. Christopher’s at the Winston.
RED LIGHT DISTRICT. Yes there are nearly naked women, standing in glass windows and doors, looking for customers. I hear its about $50 for 15 minutes or so, if you’re interested. And no, I don’t really know what that includes. Unfortunately, for me, I found this part of the city to be the most beautiful. There are curvy, narrow cobblestone streets lined with deep red brick buildings and cute lanterns. You can walk through this area at any time of the day. In daylight you won’t see much action, but at night it’s a different story. Just remember…even though these women might be something you’re not used to…DO NOT take pictures of them. They will absolutely hate you, and may chase you down (yes this happens).
I learned from locals that the Amsterdam government is trying to buy up all of the brothels so that they can turn them in to shops, etc to get the prostitution out of the city. Another good idea, I believe.
Things you should not miss there:
- Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour – Sandeman’s offers these free tours all over Europe. They are free in the sense that there is no set price…you take the tour and then contribute whatever amount you feel is necessary to the tours performance. The tour guides want to make money, so they generally do an amazing job – I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences. SO, the tours usually last 2-3 hours and they walk you all over the city and explain all the fun facts. I recommend doing this very early in your stay, so that you can revisit the places you want to see more of. I could tell you what exactly we all saw, but the surprise is better in my mind and you can check it out here.
- Ann Frank Museum – There will be a super long line for this if you don’t pay a premium to skip it. Its up to you whether or not you feel it’s worth it – I thought it was really cool…Ann Frank is a legend.
- Canal tour – Get on the river! In Amsterdam, where there are roads there is water. The canals are lined with house boats, where people live, and you can stay when you visit. The tours allow you to bring food and wine on the boat, and will teach you about the history of the buildings and houses lining the canals. Do your research when you get there…We paid about $17 per person for about 1.5 hours, other tours seemed way overpriced.
- FOOD –
- Bitterballen: They are kind of like a deep fried meatball, coated with parsley, salt and pepper. So yummy!
- Stammpot: This dish is mashed potatoes mixed with greens, vegetables, and some kind of meat (pork, beef, sausage). Must try.
- Fries: These are not ordinary French Fries. These are thick cut fries coated with mayo and ketchup. Eat with a fork. Orgasmic.
- Vendor Food: Amsterdam’s version of fast food…see below.
- Vondelpark – A massive green space in the outskirts of the city. It is a nice place to relax and soak up the sun.
Amsterdam is home to the first public stock exchange. Therefore, it was a very rich city back in the day. The infrastructure reflects this…It is absolutely gorgeous and will melt your little heart, as it did mine.
Public transportation in Amsterdam includes the train, rail car, bikes, and your feet. You should be able to walk mostly everywhere!
Remember to always be aware of your belongings and those around you.
Have fun and cheers!