The image I held in my head of how Amsterdam would be was nothing like it was in reality. I imagined it dirty, cold and full of trashy hookers–but it was the complete opposite (minus the hookers). It now registers as my favorite city in Europe—well, my second favorite–right behind Paris.
My husband, Davey, and I took this long overdue trip, sans kids, in late April. We were blessed with 75 to 80 degree weather every single day, not one drop of rain. It was just like old times (pre-kids) when we arrived. Two people, with tons of wanderlust, ready to seek out some adventures—and that we did! The first two days we were there we walked a total of twenty miles, which we tracked on Run Keeper on our iPhones. We just couldn’t get enough of the scene—every street had a canal running through it, and the brown stones were to die for. There was an old school pub every which way you turned, being taken advantage of by tourists and locals, guzzling down their ever-so-famous and frosty Heineken. (And there was no Heineken light to be found in that country btw…and I did learn while over there that Hinney-Can make your butt look big :)).
As we were taking in the shopping scene in the city center our first day we turned a corner and just about ran smack dab into a glass door, which was the only thing separating me from an eighteen-year-old sales girl who was standing there in a hot pink and black bra and thong set. And she wasn’t pretty either. It was kind of like walking down through the center of a barn, with stalls on each side, only these were adorned with red lights and absolutely nothing else. It was a true cattle call, and these girls were heifers, nowhere near supermodel status.
It made me feel pretty gross even walking through and witnessing it. Then again it’s not like we were looking for it, or that there was a big, gold gate that said, “Hookers ‘R Us.” It just happened upon us. I noticed some seventy-year-old women that had also turned the wrong corner, liking their ice cream cones and looking completely humiliated. Too funny.
The red-light district was tainting my new, clean fairy-tale idea of Amsterdam, so we headed north to the Anne Frank house. Now that was a wake-up call. We did the tour and it is just astonishing what that family had to endure and the confinement they lived in for years. It was heartbreaking, but definitely one of the best tours I’ve ever taken. Anne Frank was such a brilliant, young woman who was way beyond her years, and didn’t take life for granted.
On a lighter note, we toured the Heineken brewery the next day, and I earned my certificate of honor by pouring the perfect draft, which I toted back home along with some other really cool Heineken paraphernalia for my brother’s pub. Who knew there was an art to shaving off the foam with a plastic blade? Interesting.
I think one of my all-time favorite things about Amsterdam is that everyone, and I mean everyone, ride bikes. I saw men in suits and women in dresses on bikes, and they owned the roads. In front of every brownstone there was anywhere from two to four bikes and on every corner at least thirty. It was madness. But it’s flat there and they can do it, so they did it.
And let’s not forget about what it is that Amsterdam is even more famous for than the hookers. The coffeehouses—where no coffee is served, no food is eaten, and no tobacco is toked. It’s just everything any Lollapalooza fan would ever need on vacation. Enough said about that….
If I were to write a definition of Amsterdam in Webster it would say:
Amsterdam — A trip of a lifetime with my best friend—who just happens to be my husband. I’m one lucky gal…..
Happy travels my friends………until next time…..
Below is the actual staircase that hid the entry into where the Franks lived…