Only 10 hours from London, it confounds us why we hadn’t taken the opportunity to visit one of the Europe’s most iconic cities, Amsterdam.
Amsterdam comes with a reputation.
It is known for being a party city, a city of adult pleasures, a city where anything goes…
Looking back, I suddenly realised that I had actually been to Amsterdam once previously on business but never dared to venture into the city alone. I can not tell you why… I can say that I was a lot younger and alone. This time around we were a pair and had a couple of days to truly explore the city in glorious weather.
As we had time and weather on our side, we immediately indulged in a city tour via riverboat. This was a fantastic experience, taking us through the maze of canals that make up the city centre. Renowned as the Venice of the North, Amsterdam is linked by sixty miles of canals that intertwined throughout the suburbs of the city. The tour gave us a real sense of an Amsterdam that not everyone sees – it’s a city of culture, art, history and cuisine. The canals provide a real beautiful colonial feel with each and every bridge providing a different story.
As in Venice, Amsterdam is nothing short of a Wanders Paradise and we took a number of hours exploring on foot. Winding streets linked by canals, littered with brassieres, pubs, retail shops and historic buildings, there is nothing finer. One of the most historic buildings of all time sits on the outskirts of Amsterdam – the building which housed Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation. Anne Frank is renowned as one of the most famous diarist of all time, writing her experiences of being persecuted and hiding in the house’s annex. An experience that has touched the hearts of millions around the world. On top of Anne Frank’s house, the city also houses a number of historic windmills and the home of the legendary painter Rembrandt.
The city is undoubtably beautiful in the day, however when night falls a different side of the city springs to life. The majority of buildings light up and reflect perfectly against the adjacent canals.
None more so than the historic and iconic red light district, which literally glows a light red over many a block. De Wallen, as it is known locally is an area that has been in existence for over five hundred years. Unlike many areas that house that name throughout the world, prostitution is legal and therefore dealt with accordingly. Ladies rent small rooms with windows where they advertise themselves behind said window in clear sight of passing trade. Granted these rooms are usually in small alleyways, but nevertheless it is remarkably visible.
The Red Light district as an area is not one to be worried about, it is not noted to be dangerous and doesn’t even feel sordid, due to the thousands of tourists who witness it yearly. You may think that with such tourist interest, trade would be hard to come by, but that doesn’t seem to bother the ladies. It’s a very strange experience, as you don’t really know where to look or what you should do, but it is an experience at the heart of Amsterdam’s reputation. That alongside with the sex museum, adult stores, legal marijuana and copious amounts of alcohol, really does fortify any story told about Europe’s city of sin.
Don’t let these forementioned elements of Amsterdam put you off a visit, it really issuch an ecletic beautiful city that Megan and I thoughly enjoyed exploring.