Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amsterdam - The city of free (Pictures)

Typical street divider in Amsterdam. Canals everywhere. Loves it
Everyone and their aunt's cats ride a bicycle in Amsterdam no joke. There are more bicycles than there are cars.

I loved and will forever love Amsterdam. That was the first city that I visited on my mini eurotrip, in April. It was epic, to underestimate my satisfaction derived from the trip. 
Before going, I had looked up myths, stories and guides to exploring Amsterdam in 2 days. Many people go there to smoke the legendary weed or visit the Red Light District, where prostitution is legalized and done in broad daylight. What I didn't know was that Amsterdam is an 'archipelago' of canals, bicycles, and free thinkers. Dutch is the native language but almost everyone in Amsterdam speaks English too, because it's a tourist destination.
I went to Amsterdam with a fellow London study-abroader and her friend that flew in from Madrid. It was nice trio of young black girls set to live the Amstel way. 

Most streets in Amsterdam are divided by canals, not roads. Bliss. Imagine this view, every morning

When I got there, I flew into Eindhoven airport, two hours away from Amsterdam because it was cheaper than flying into Schipol, Amsterdam airport. I actually liked my two-hour train ride through the Hague and Eindhoven. By the way, Amsterdam is in Holland, which is also referred to as the Netherlands. Two names for the same country. o_O


On the way to Anne Frank Haus (Haus = House in German)
Of course, my ignorant self knew nothing about Anne Frank, until my buddies mentioned her house in Amsterdam. From the knowledge that I gathered, Anne Frank was a daughter of a German family that sought refuge in Amsterdam during the German war or something like Hitler or Nazi regime. My bad, I suck at history and knowing these things. I should though. She kept a diary of her life, hiding away in the Anne Frank haus (named after her), until they were found in the 1940s or 50s. Her diary has been turned into a popular book in different langauges. Please google her story.

queue to get into Anne Frank Haus

Anne Frank Haus guide booklet
There are kiosks everywhere that sell fries in these cone-like wraps. 
If you ever go to amsterdam, you have to try these fries. They are everywhere and they have also sorts of sauces available, from ketchup to masala.

Boat cruise along the Amstel
My girls and I decided to take a personal cruise, across the river Amstel. I guess this is where the famous Amstel Malta drink is named after. 

These are boat-houses, floating on water. They look like houses built on water but they have boat foundations. I saw many houses like these. 

Children left by themselves in a boat

Famous Skinny Bridge
Amsterdam is small city. We literally walked across the city, three times during our 2-day stay. You can use a bicycle to get from end to end in 25 mins. On a lower note, it is expensive though. More expensive than Paris but not as much as expensive as London, from my experience.

Club sign in the Red Light District. Prostitutes everywhere
Of course, we visited the Red Light District. It was a nothing short of a wowzer. A future post will be dedicated to that. Teaser: One of the female prostitutes winked at me. #shocks I find it funny that a majority of the patronisers are English men. C'mon, coming all the way from the UK to bang a prostitute in Amsterdam, that's serious.
Drinks made from weed. Cannabis merchandise in coffee shop window
Just to clarify a common misconception, weed is actually illegal in Amsterdam but it's tolerated, as long as it is not commercialized openly. That means you cannot explicitly have 'Weed for sale' on your shop sign. Weed shops are referred to as coffeeshops. My advice to you is that you should not joke with Amsterdam weed. Their stuff is hella potent. One joint is enough to take you there. A weed novice should only attempt a few puffs. Don't harm yourself!
Weed lolli-pops
I didn't try the weed derivatives because the weed content was ambiguous. We heard stories of tourists who went nuts from trying weed cakes, weed cans and stuff because they underestimated the weed content. I had to caution myself. Imagine passing out in the first city of my eurotrip. No bueno.


Main structure for Amsterdam's chinatow

Wooden Tulips at Flea Market

Human-size Chess board.
I saw this chess game and was amazed. I don't know jack about Chess. Sadly, whenever it comes up in general trivia questions, I feel like a dummy. I presume Chess is assumed to be of universal knowledge now.
Sign, in front of Van Gogh museum

It is was a nice trip. These pictures do the experience no justice. I did a couple of activities not in the photos like going to a club, to the dock, the brewery and many other stuff. I will do similar posts for the other cities visited. Amsterdam is now my second favorite city in the world, after Paris. She took the position away from London LOL.

On another note, why is there so much ruckus about a calculated end-of-the-world date on May 21st. I don't care what's happening then, all is know is that I'll be eating some crêpes and sipping orangina in Paris, this weekend. Yes, I'm going again. Can't get enough of that city.

I really should have not changed my mind from Paris to London, for studying abroad. Nonetheless, my London experience has been amazing non-stop. I just cannot have it all, can I? I have finished my exams. So, I have about three weeks left in London for chilling/travelling/being a fool and making love to Londontown. Suggestions of non-touristy London spots are very welcome. I need to see it all, before I leave.

Till next time,
Yinkuslolo.

PS: My two-year blogaversary is coming up in June. For the two-year hall mark, I will accept 20 questions. So feel free to leave the question in the comment box or email me at yinkuslolo@gmail.com

6 comments:

Third World Profashional said...

Your pictures are beautiful! Can't wait for my Euro-trip. I'm so going to go everywhere xxx

Adaeze said...

Lol I know right, everyone in Holland are on bikes. I think its nice. Environmental and body friendly. Holland is beautiful.
Why you going to paris girl? well thats a stupid question. I am part french and i havent been there forever, but I love that city, feels just like home. What do you normally do when you're in Paris?
And to answer your Q about London -have you gone to have shisha on edgware road yet? :)

Anonymous said...

Super duper awesome pictures. I loveeee it.
Jealous tho.

Dith

leggy said...

i'm so jealous of you, you have no idea.

Ginger said...

Amsterdam sure looks beautiful. Hope to make it on a ferry trip from Newcastle sometime soon.

The weed? reminds me of the movie Eurotrip. Thank God you no try am. Enjoy!

doll said...

seems like you had a lot of fun