“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank (Jewish girl from Amsterdam and was a victim of the Holocaust)
“Shylla, did you get high?” the first question I’m always asked,
Whenever I say, “No, never tried anything at all.”
Common reaction I’ll get is: “WTF did you do there!?!”
Amsterdam, one of the famous tourist destination in Europe, I thought all along because for it’s liberal night scene (parties, clubs, bars, pubs, etc!) drugs and prostitution. But there is a beauty beyond that, it’s the free atmosphere and warmth by the people, either locals or immigrants. Despite its reputation, I felt safe. :)
It is known as the Venice of the North for its canals which is a result of conscious city planning it served as their defense and water management. It is also the reason why you can find the world’s most famous red light district coz of the sailors for the ships that were docking here. The canals here is not as stinky as in Venice (as they say) as they open the canals very often to flow to the sea. A trivia was also given to us by Basti, apart from old furniture and appliances, what else can you see under their canals? BICYCLES!!! Dutch are known for using the bicycles the most and for their nasty humor, so when they get drunk or high, they will just throw random parked bicycles over the canals! :P
We took the FREE TOUR by New Europe Tours which I highly recommend coz the guides were very organized, witty and young hehe, it’s free coz they work on a tips-only basis which is not bad for a minimum of 5 Euros for a 3-hour walking trip! but we gave him more than that coz he was really good ;)
These are the places we visited:
1. De Wallen (Red Light District)
– one of the major tourist attraction in Amsterdam located in the old town near the Old Church (Oude Kerk)this area is an array of clubs, pubs, sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, sex museums, hemp museums, coffeshops selling cannabis and tiny cabins with red-lighted windows which the legal prostitutes rented their slot, even on a broad day light! It’s not advisable to take pictures here.
2. Coffeeshops @ Leidseplein
– in Amsterdam when they say Coffee House, it’s the real coffee shop selling coffee; when they say Cafe’ it’s a bar selling alcoholic drinks; and when they say Coffeeshop, it’s a shop selling cannabis, drugs are illegal but tolerated in this city if they abide to certain rules like no advertisement, no hard drugs, no alcohol, no selling to minors etc. The funny part is, no tobacco smoking is allowed :P
3. De Dampkring
– one of the famous coffeeshop in Amsterdam coz of the movie Oceans12! :P
this is where Brad Pitt, Goerge Clooney and Matt Damon filmed a scene, it is also rumored that Brad and George were seen smoking pot also off scene. They named a hash after the movie: the Oceans12 Haze, we didn’t have time to go inside but our guide said it has the best hash in town and has the coolest psychedelic interior, I wanna go back here to see also the fat stoned cat named Bowie, who acts like a dog! That’s the cat’s trip let him be :P
4. The Old Church (Oude Kerk)
– oldest Catholic parish church which later on adopted by the Protestants…it is located at De Wallen, the red light district where a lot of prostitute windows surround it, it is said that the church was built so men will repent after they have sinned by seeing a prostitute :(
5. The Begijnhof Convent
– it’s an inner court within the heart of the city which is like a convent but it’s mostly private dwellings with 17th and 18th century Dutch architecture.
6. Dear Lord of the Attic
– one of the Hidden Catholic churches
7. Multatuli’s Giant Head
– a statue of Dutch famous writer Dekker at a bridge along Singel canal, from this area, you will find the world’s smallest house too!
8. World’s Smallest House
– it’s just around 1 meter wide in 3 storeys and there is actually someone living in there!
9. The New Church (Nieuwe Kerk)
– located at the Dam Square next to the Royal Palace…like the Old Church, it is no longer functioning as a church, it is like a common venue now for concerts, exhibitions, conventions, performances, etc.
10. The Royal Palace
– it was under renovation the time when we were there! :( This is the palace of Louis Napoleon, the brother of Bonaparte and became the palace of Prince William VI of Orange after Napoleon fell from power. (Saw it when I revisit in 2013, click HERE)
11. I AM STERDAM huge letters
– it’s just a new attraction but it became the most sought after icon for tourists…I’ve seen this several times to anyone who has been there, so on my last day I couldn’t find it after going around the town, then I didn’t realized that it was just few steps from our hostel! It is at Museumplein opposite Rijkmuseum :P
12. Anne Frank’s House
– it is now a museum, this is the house of the famous young German Jewish girl who was a victim of the Holocaust, in this house you will see the actual happenings of what was written on “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne herself, from their hiding place to the famous tree behind their house…please click this link for ticket prices and museum opening schedule as it varies, just like what happened to us! :( We arrived late because they have an earlier closing time during autumn/winter. Another reason for me to go back to this city!
(And I did when I revisit in 2013! Click HERE)
Then we took a sidetrip to VOLENDAM!
It is 30minutes bus ride away from Amsterdam main town, this is one of the countryside of Holland where you will see picturesque windmill village, green timbered houses, clogmakers and a fishing village. We were just unfortunate not to see any old women who still wear the traditional Dutch clothes :(
I wanna go back to Amsterdam…there are more places I needed to see and more things I needed to do, I just had a glimpse of it’s beauty and I have not really explore it much, 3 days will never be enough…I find it a good city for relocation especially for foreign singles like me, it’s a multi-racial city with so much freedom (unlike “you know where” hehe), people are nicer and people have broader minds, I must say no matter how nasty their humors are, like Filipinos, they are just happy people :)
If I go back, will I try to get “high” this time?
My answer will still be, NO :P
I have reached this age and I have never tried not even once because of my personal conviction, I believe with the grace of God that I will be able to keep it and carry it out, and no matter how it sounds impossible and absurd to other people, I also believe that each one of us have their own personal convictions in life even if they live their life unimaginable. We do not need to understand why, we just have to show grace and respect, coz like what Anne Frank said, people (by nature) are good at heart ♥