Amsterdam is one of the top bicycle-friendly cities in the world, which we quickly noticed upon our arrival. Bikes crowded every inch of rail space practically sitting on one another while bicyclists zoomed by, dinging their bell for pedestrians to move quickly before getting run over.
There are over 800,000 bikes in the city, more than there are people! Most will have their inner city bike plus an additional bike locked up in an outer city location they frequent often. This way they don’t have to transport their bike on the trains or buses and pay 6 euros!
It was a little overwhelming at first having to dodge cars, pedestrians AND bicyclists but you get accustomed to it quickly.
Another major for Amsterdam are the numerous canals and bridges, 160 canals and 1,200 bridges to be exact. That’s even more than Venice! You can’t go wrong weaving through the city embracing the beauty these canals and iron-fenced bridges bring to the city.
While wondering around, careful not to stumble on the stone walkways, you’ll see many Coffee Shops, a.k.a. smoke shops. You can certainly order coffee and snacks here but that’s secondary to the cannabis offered. Locals don’t flaunt their paraphernalia but they don’t hide it either; no need to with such a lax government.
So lax that they legalized prostitution… The Red Light District is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen! Practically naked women standing in windows, trying to catch your eye, luring you in for costly sex! A guy’s (expensive) paradise, I’m sure! It truly was the most interesting walk I’ve taken, just one of those things I had to see for myself! We stopped in for some beers at a pub along the district canal and it was like a bachelor pad. Very few women and lots of drunk men cheering and chanting.
Before we took this amusing walk, we had met for dinner and drinks with Jennie. We were first introduced to Jennie in Greensboro North Carolina in August when we were visiting Andy, a banjo player we met while staying at an Airbnb in New Mexico. Jennie was friends with one of Andy’s friends and happened to be at his place when we came over for dinner. She has such a lively personality and is very easy to talk with. Turns out she is currently living in Amsterdam so we coordinated to meet up and glad we did! We hope to meet up with her again whenever our paths may cross!
My favorite “tour” in Amsterdam was of the Anne Frank House. Being in her home of hiding sent chills up my spine and a sense of sadness from such a tragic and horrific time in history. The holocaust, as depressing as it was, was a history that I’ve always been interested in learning more about. I remember reading the Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl in school and instantly becoming intrigued.
We also visited the 4-story high Van Gogh Museum that included an array of paintings from artists who inspired Van Gogh as well as letters he had sent to his family. This too brought a sense of sadness for such a talented man to die so young. It was quite remarkable to stand before some of his original paintings.
Everyone we interacted with in Amsterdam was so friendly, spoke English and had great energies about them! A lovely place to visit!