Arriving into Amsterdam after a 10 hour bus from Paris we were both ready to get to our place and crash and worry about going exploring the next day. That lasted right up until we got to Rembrantplein. The square was packed with people of all ages – drinking, smoking, having dinner, and generally just having a great time. We had arrived on a holiday weekend and every man, woman and child were out and making the most of it. The energy was infectious so we hurried to cast off our bags and join in the fun.
Running to our hostel right on the edge of the square by the canal we were stoked with the location. Leading us to our room around the outside of they building, we were literally dumbfounded when he pointed to the door. Three meters from street level our door perched, and the only way up was via a ladder. With two 50 pound bags this was going to be a mission. With surprising alacrity the concierge grabbed one of the bags, climbed up the ladder and into our room. Liam followed with much less grace. Of course, the inner spiral “staircase” was even smaller, but eventually we managed to get up to our room overlooking the canal.
We headed straight out to the nearest coffee house to soak in the atmosphere. While I had imagined them to be dark and smoky places – our local, Smokeys, was alive with Christmas lights across the roof, music playing and full to the brim with people. Next to the bar was the real attraction – a glass top table with every type and strength of marijuana you could imagine, some already rolled into joints and put into little plastic test tubes – with a little tin on top with the slogan “tip your dealer.” We grabbed a beer and enjoyed the atmosphere before heading back out into the packed square. Outside, it was a munchies paradise – Mcdonalds, New York pizza and pretty much everything else you could imagine. We indulged in a banana and Nutella crepe (we are kind of addicted) before turning in.
The next day we woke up bright and early to go exploring – and the best way to do that in Amsterdam is in the canal boats. We were lucky enough to have a bright and sunny day while we toured the city taking in the major sites – grand central with its multi story bicycle parking lot, the immense Rijkmuseum, the Anne Frank house with its line around the block and the largest floating Chinese restaurant I have ever seen. Houseboats line the canals – with people lounging on homemade barges that serve as a veranda.
We decided to jump off at the Rijkmuseum and walk through the huge arches to the museum park. There sits the iconic giant letters, “I Amsterdam”, with people climbing all over them and trying to get a photo without one hundred other tourists in it. With such a nice day we couldnt resist grabbing a milkshake and just laying in the park watching the clouds race by. For the evening, we caught up and had drinks with a model I had worked with in Miami at Palladium.
Walking around Amsterdam can be hazardous – bikes are everywhere and they really don’t want to stop for pedestrians. We stepped into bike lanes without looking a few times and went all too close to getting cleaned up – so please keep an eye out. Once you get past that – Amsterdam is actually a very small place with most attractions easy to find and in walking distance.
For our last day we woke up early to try and beat the lines for Anne Frank house. Arriving in time for opening, we find the line is already out the sort… And around the block. With a major storm on the way we waited anxiously but after 2 and a half hours we managed to beat the storm inside. I have to say, it was worth the wait. I had read the diary of Anne Frank during school but being in the house where she hid and seeing her notebooks casts it in a whole new light.
For the evening, we had to check out the world famous underbelly of Amsterdam, the red light district. Strolling along the canal as the sun set, the women were already in the windows, sitting, reading and smoking, stacked multiple stories high. Pubs advertised live sex shows and a museum is devoted to the world oldest profession. As night fell, more women filled the windows and the people on the street became more raucous. It was definitely an experience not to be missed.
Next stop: Berlin