Amsterdam Stories and Tips

Burning Amsterdam

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member

I know what you are thinking. The city that is full of purveyors of pot, connoisseurs of cannabis and controllers of kink, what the hell could this guy write about that I haven’t heard already? Nothing at all. I am just going to inundate you with more tales of depravity and destruction but I’ll throw in a couple stories of fun and excitement.

Last year three friends and I set about on trip that traversed through the lands for Europe for a couple of weeks. On our travels we decided that we had no other choice than to make a stop in Amsterdam. Unlike most travelers, we didn’t stay in a hostel; we actually had a friend staying out of the actual city near the Heineken Stadium. If you have a chance to stay outside of the center of the city, PLEASE RECONSIDER. Outside of the city is very strange and if you do not have your wits about you, you can easily be robbed. I would recommend that you try to stay near the Red Light District area, but not directly in the heart of it.

On our first day, we went to the Van Gogh Museum (www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp) located next to the large park in the center of the city. The museum was unfortunately closed the day we went (some stupid reconstruction stuff) so we made a day of it in the park. Right smack in the center of the park, there is a sculpture set up that reads "I Am Amsterdam." So we all got together, stood in front of different letters and did a couple of panoramic shots, so when we developed them, we could put them together and spell it out. But be careful in the park because the entire city is a biker’s city, meaning that people of bicycles are riding everywhere. They don’t care; they will run you over with out a second glance. I actually saw one of the coolest devices I have ever seen; a collapsible bike. This bike folds up around the small tires and is as big as a briefcase. Upon returning home, I saw this folding bike craze spread throughout New York like wildfire.

After our day in the park, we headed off to the Heineken Brewery. Please, if you are in Amsterdam, stop by this place, it's great. We then headed off the lurid back streets of Amsterdam to find the famous Grasshopper Coffee shop. The Grasshopper Coffee shop (www.coffeeshop.freeuk.com/Database/ShopsA/GrassHopper1.html) is the tourist hotspot for people who want legal pot. It is a bit on the pricy side, but the pot is great. You can borrow bowls, pipes, bongs or papers and just sit and have a good time. They also have seeds and large quantities. One thing that is really strange is they have these coins that you can buy as souvenirs that used to be used in Amsterdam to verify people were old enough to drink. They would buy these coins, then, when they were out, they would give these coins to the bartenders and the rest is history. You can see why this is no longer practiced because anyone could get a coin and then party.

We then walked over the many bridges that connect the crescent shaped city like a series of veins. On our travels, we came across the many impromptu street fairs and fresh fruit and plant markets that encompass this unique city. Along one of these street fairs, I noticed something very odd. On the outside of a building, there was a pulley system setup from the roof with a giant couch suspended from a rope. This system is applied on every house in Amsterdam because the houses are narrow, these hooks were setup to help people move their furniture in without having to worry about the stairs. It is really weird and I wish that my camera hadn’t died so I could have taken a picture of it, but when you’re there, you’ll see.

Our final night in Amsterdam was spent by having a sunlit boat ride on the river while hearing the history of this old and historic city. The guides are very informative and funny and it is totally worth the 20-euro fee. This included two drinks and then of course the tour. There are plenty of these boats around the city and you can grab one of these anywhere as long as you get there early enough. We then headed in the famous Red Light District. Here is one of the strangest and semi-uncomfortable neighborhoods I have ever been in. There are scores of women standing in windows with men walking in and out all night long with the curtains in front of this windows opening and closing like a public bathroom door. It is rather a disgusting sight to see because every man in the area seems to be ok with it because some were waiting for their friends to come out so they could go in. It's really a disgusting display, but maybe not for everyone. I wouldn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, so if that’s your thing, enjoy. Please don’t let my opinion influence your feelings about Amsterdam. Otherwise this is a city filled with fun, drugs and even sex, so bring your smoking lungs, a plethora of condoms and a charged battery for your camera.

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