“What are you up to this weekend?”
“Going to Germany.”
“Oh cool I’m going to Amsterdam!”
“That’s awesome, we’re going to Morocco”
And the adventures continue…
To think that we are all blessed and fortunate enough to explore different lands and their cultures is an incredible feeling. In the most simple words, it is cool to say that you’re traveling to an entire new country for the weekend instead of saying, “Gonna watch a movie.” The exhilaration and excitement that you go through, knowing you will soon enter new territory with friends, is surreal. It’s an entirely new step into adulthood.
Arriving in Amsterdam at night, I was taken away by its charming beauty. Lamp posts reflecting off the rivers, illuminating the feel of comfort while you stroll through the streets of this tiny city. Breathing in the fresh cool air laced with weed, you know from the start that the city of Holland will be unlike any other.
Stepping onto the streets during the day with the sun overcast, thawing our sore bodies, we walked along the streets to the Anne Frank House. Close to the hostel that we stayed in, we waited for 45 minutes to go through a respectable memorial for Anne Frank and her family. You can tell if a museum or memorial is good usually by its after effect, the thoughts that you exchange with your friends, and the unsettlingly feeling of how difficult it must have been to live in a time of hardship. The House wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would have been, instead, it made me realize how powerful writing is. She kept a many journals through her time, basically as a prisoner, locked up in an attic. She wrote day by day, her actions, emotions, needs, desires, wishes, and dreams. Without her journals, the house wouldn’t exists. Anne made me realize to appreciate my own life- to go outside and enjoy what the outside world has to offer. She also taught me the power and importance of the written word.
Amsterdam is filled with the most random museums you can think of. The Cheese Museum, The Tulip Museum, The Museum of Bags and Purses, The Sex Museum, The Museum of Weed, the Science Museum (NEMO), the Heineken Experience, The Diamond museum, and many more. While these are the less important museums, they are cheaper (sometimes free) and worth a visit to educate yourself on random facts of cheese and purses.
Besides the many museums, coffeeshops, and stores, Amsterdam is beautiful to walk through. The city is aligned with apartments resembling dollhouses, as if a dozen little girls had constructed the city to their liking. It is cute, clean, small, and a little bit romantic with canals giving the city a feel of Venice. Dam Square, where tourists mainly reside, is the center of shopping, restaurants, pastry shops, and your half way point to the Red District.
Accidentally stumbling upon the Red District, we did not think that the legal prostitutes would be present on display through the glass windows, but alas they were.
Shocked and uncomfortable, I stared at the barely clothed woman but then quickly looked away, almost afraid. Hearing about it is something, but experiencing it for yourself is unreal. I kept looking up to make sure that my eyes were not deceiving me and I would quickly look away out of respect- but this was their job! It was hard to believe and my least favorite part of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was a culture shock more than anything else. The city was beautiful and liberal. Not ashamed of ‘light’ drugs or prostitution, the people seem happy, friendly, and enjoy life as it comes.
P.S: The total amount of bikes exceeds the amount of people and cars combined.