Many a time has a traveller commented on the magic of the canals, the freedom of spirit and the relaxed energy of the ‘Dam.’ After returning, again and again, this year; I can say it is one of my favourite cities.
Amsterdam is full of many things you will not find in other places. Primarily, the fact that the middle of most streets is full of water, which is at first a bit odd… Sometimes I think it would be easier to swim around the city than any other transport!
Next you will notice the beautiful houses. The city is filled with multi-storey buildings and their elegant, gabled facades. If you take a close look, many of the buildings are leaning, as the soft ground and heavy houses cause sinkage.
Art is a monumental part of the character of Amsterdam. The city is dotted with museums for every kind of artist. Amsterdam holds the record for the largest number of museums! Everything from Rembrandt and Van Gogh, to modern art, the Heineken Factory and the quirky sex museum. There is even a museum museum to help you understand museums!
The charm of Amsterdam is shown by the locals and tourists all zooming about the town on two wheels! Bikes are a part of Dutch culture and Amsterdam is no exception. The stations are surrounded by seas of handlebars, and the roads have more bikes than cars or trams! When you are here, it is important to give it a go! Even if you are not very good and fall off (no names here…) it’s worth giving it a try!
Amsterdam is famous for its free spirit. The popular reputation for sex and drugs being free and open are perpetuated in many areas. The popular ‘coffee shops’ are dotted around town, and are very open with their use of soft drugs. While I’m not a fan myself, I can see the value in it being open and observed, where if people are going to use drugs, it needs to be in an open and safe environment.
The other ‘free spirited’ part of the town is the Red Light District. Home of many shows, windows and stores selling a variety of things, the RLD is famous and infamous all over the world. I would recommend that any and every traveller at least walk through the streets to get a feel for what the area is about.
European history has a giant part of the city’s culture and life. The 17th Century Dutch ‘Golden Age’ saw Amsterdam as the centre of world trade and brought many riches into the city. Other events such as WWII saw Nazi Germany occupy Holland and more recently the hippie movement occupying Vondelpark. Each time a new cultural wave grows into the city, another layer of interest and value is added to the ‘Venice of the North’. For this reason, many museums such as the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank Huis are vital spots to visit in order to develop a greater knowledge of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.
#jongmasjourney is on its final time in Amsterdam for the year and it’s sad to say goodbye to all the family and friends here in Holland. I’ll post a bit more about that next but until then, tot ziens!
And as Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”