“I amsterdam” is a marketing strategy to promote all aspects of living in, doing business with, and visiting the Dutch capital. I rode the I amsterdam bandwagon when I played tourist in one of the most lively cities I have visited. Whether its the scenic canals, popular museums, or the (in)famous red light district, Amsterdam always has something for everyone.
Amsterdam at night
I arrived early evening in Amsterdam and met up with my friend Darwin, who was studying there for his Masters degree at the time. Our first stop: red light district. I was initially shocked seeing all those scantily clad women in the glass doors. I have heard a lot of stories about this area, but I didn’t realize just how many “glass doors” and how much variety (for lack of a better word) there were. Of course, taking photos of the ladies are not encouraged. Rumors say if you get caught taking photos, the ladies will grab your camera and throw it in the canal or worse, they will throw their piss in your face (so they have their piss in cups, ready to be thrown at tourists’ faces? Hmm…). So anyway, no photos. Here is a photo of the swans in the canal instead:
We stayed the night just looking around the area, pub hopping and beer tasting. The sights, not to mention the smells 😉 , are really something you wouldn’t normally find elsewhere.
Free walking tour
In the morning, we went to Dam Square to join Sandeman’s free walking tour (instead of a fixed amount, the guides work for tips from customers).
The tour guide first brought us to the red light district, which looked different without the blinking bright lights. There were still a lot of interesting things to see, though.
We also went to Chinatown and then to the Dutch East India Company for some history lessons.
Then we went outside the Royal Palace (unfortunately under renovation) and to several other interesting places like the courtyard of the Begijnhof Convent, house of Anne Frank and the “narrowest house”.
We crossed several bridges to enjoy the view of the picturesque canals. We also passed by several “coffee shops” (euphemism for shops selling weed), where there were long lines to buy one of the most sought after products in Amsterdam. And I’m not talking about Dutch cheese, although we did pass by several cheese shops 😉
Art and culture at the Rijksmuseum
We stayed in Enschede for a few nights but I went back to Amsterdam to meet up with my godmother and her friend. This time, we used the tram to go around the city. We first went to the Rijksmuseum, where the I amsterdam sign is located. We spent some time excitedly taking photos with the iconic sign. The museum was still under renovation when we went, but we still saw a decent-sized art collection. Seeing Rembrandt’s famous Night Watch painting is really worth the visit.
Touristy canal cruise
We also got to see the West Church (where Rembrandt was buried) at the start and the Nemo Museum near the end of the tour.
It was a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Too relaxing in fact, that I dozed off in the boat for a while, probably due to the good lunch, the mechanized voice of the tour guide recording, and the rocking motion of the boat. After the canal tour, we capped off our Amsterdam visit by shopping for souvenirs at the flower market. Aside from flowers (duh!), there were also shops selling cheese and different types of souvenirs.
We left Amsterdam in the late afternoon to spend the night in The Hague. I felt tired but happy for two days well-spent. I am glad that I got to experience even a little of the many things that Amsterdam has to offer and that I can say “I amsterdam” 🙂