Category Archives: Netherlands

“I amsterdam”: Playing tourist in the Dutch capital

“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.

I amsterdam sign at the Rijksmuseum

I amsterdam sign at the Rijksmuseum

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:

???????????????????????????????

Swans at the red light district

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).

Line for the tour

Line for the tour at Dam’s Square

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.

Magic mushrooms, anyone?

Magic mushrooms, anyone?

Condoman and the condoms (what?!)

Condoman…

We also went to Chinatown and then to the Dutch East India Company for some history lessons.

Dutch East India Company headquarters

Dutch East India Company headquarters

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”.

The Royal Palace under renovation

The Royal Palace under renovation

Can you see the narrowest house?

Can you see the narrowest house? It’s only 2 meters wide!

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 😉

Amsterdam "coffee"

Amsterdam “coffee”

Long line for weed

Long line to buy pot

Cheese everywhere!

Cheese everywhere!

One thing I really appreciate is the bike culture. It’s really awesome that bikes are the king of the road in Amsterdam. Bikes are everywhere, and everyone is riding a bike!???????????????????????????????

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. IMG_4272???????????????????????????????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.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

File:The Nightwatch by Rembrandt.jpg

Rembrandt’s Night Watch (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Touristy canal cruise

After lunch we went on a canal cruise on one of the glass roof boats.??????????????????????????????? I enjoyed seeing the rows of buildings lining the canals as well as the unique “boat” houses floating on the water.

???????????????????????????????

View from the boat

Boat houses on the canal

Boat houses on the canal

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.

West Church tower

West Church tower

Nemo Museum

Nemo Museum

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.

Cannabis starter kit...

Cannabis starter kit…

I amsterdam

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” 🙂

I amsterdam

I amsterdam

Advertisements