As the aircraft descends and prepares to land into Amsterdam, I feel elated and excited to explore this city of tolerance and diversity. Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities in the world filled with rich culture, lively nightlife, international restaurants and good transport. It’s also known for its water canals, world famous museums and historic sites.
Amsterdam has more than 75 museums which attract millions of visitors every year but the most famous museums are Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum.
When the weather heats up in Amsterdam, It’s the best time of the year to be in this picturesque Dutch city. Everyone is trying to make the most of the heat wave, and the city feels like a holiday resort, especially during the weekend.
After checking in to my very comfortable hotel I decided to go for a city tour. It was one of those evenings when I was feeling very happy, I think it was the effect of the constant smell of weed I was able to sniff in the cobble stoned city streets which was getting stronger each time I cross a coffee shop.
So, the first stop…? Coffee shop!
I entered multiple coffee shops but I really liked Goa & Baba. I do not smoke myself but the smell does attract me. I saw many groups and individuals sitting in the dark, smoke filled shops waiting to be stoned while I enjoyed my coffee. It was fun.
Amsterdam coffee shops are not to be confused with cafés. They have been a part of the city since the 1970s, and were allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis after the Dutch government made a clear distinction in the law between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs. They are strictly regulated and taxed. A legal coffee shop operates with non-transferable licenses – shown by the display of an official, green and white sticker in the window.
As I continued walking I discovered many big and small bridges over all the criss – cross canals. The many canals and waterways make bridges a necessity for Amsterdam. During the day they are beautiful, but at night some are decorated with dazzling illumination adding to the charm.
I believe each bridge has a story to tell. Historic or may be romantic, not sure!
I continued walking over some bridges, wandered around by one of the canals, took few lefts and few rights and finally came to a place where people were spilling out of the pubs and laughter was echoing. I also noticed some gorgeous wide-eyed Dutch girl’s cycling along on their way. They were really pretty I must say…!
Finally I paused at the doors of De Bekeerde Suster where I stopped by for a drink. I received a warm welcome and chose to sit at the bar for a casual conversation with few locals. While I was deciding what to order, the bartender suggested me to try Jenever. It’s basically a Dutch gin. I completely enjoyed sipping it.
It was getting late and was time for me to move towards my shelter. I took the route through the red light district. This place leaves nothing to the imagination from brothels to sex shops to museums. I am sure you must have heard about this area in Amsterdam and to be honest everything you have heard is true. This place has around 2000 glass windows which are occupied by sex workers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Prostitution is actually legal in many parts of Europe, but nowhere in the world is prostitution a major tourist attraction like how it is here. It is a curiosity for some, and one of the obvious reasons to visit for others. The red light district is exactly what you probably think it is, but it’s also mostly safe and clean and should be a stop on almost every visitor’s itinerary. Being the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood it’s hard to avoid this area but I would still suggest all the travelers not to visit the red light district first otherwise you may get the wrong impression about the Dutch people and Amsterdam. Enjoy yourself, as a trip down the district will definitely leave a lasting impression.
Royal Queen Seeds
On my way back I sat by a canal with a can of Heineken studying my tourist map. I felt ecstatic. It was so wonderful to be in Amsterdam. What a fantastic city filled with friendly – kind hearted people. I was almost smiling with joy. Would definitely love to come back here again.