The end of July I took my friends to Amsterdam for the very first time. It was the first girly trip we’ve ever done let alone to a foreign country.
Seeing Amsterdam as a tourist is different from seeing Holland as a local. In the four days we where there we crammed in so many things.
We stayed near Leidse Square in a less than perfect apartment but it in hind sight it wasn’t all that bad although there are two apartment with the same name so it did take us 4 hours to find the place! After shopping in the local vicinity at every possible moment we explored many of the main tourist spots in Amsterdam and the wider area.
My friends thought the Amsterdam Royal Palace was a little underwhelming. I quite like it. Its one of the reasons I love the Dutch. Their Royal family are so close to the people. The balcony is on the first floor and there is no gates or fencing to stop the people from going near it. For a 17th Century building I think its holding up pretty well. Entry to the palace is quiet expensive and wasn’t really on our hit list for this visit. Nevertheless we walked past it every day and it became a good central spot for us to work out our routes.
The Sex Museum
€4 for access to vintage porn <- that should be the tag line to the museum because that is exactly what is inside it. It is an eyeopener to say the least. I’m not sure i can say its and enjoyable experience but one I’m glad I shared with my best friends of whom all where girls. Lets just say there are a few photos that make you clench your insides for all the wrong reasons and there is a man who looks like the Rolex watch he is wearing on this left hand won’t be there much longer! Definitely traumatised and a lot more enlightened! I like to consider myself openminded but my goodness I am now!
The Red Light District
We went here in the daytime and ate waffles by the canal. Dutch waffles are better than any English ones by far and the jars of Nutella are big enough to swim in! The Red Light District by day isn’t anything special, there are a few women in windows but not many and those that are looked bored sat on a stool glad in a tank top and denim shorts. From my experience this was where the strongest smell of cannabis was. We had a tout try and coax into a live porn show promising the “biggest dicks you’ve ever seen” but aside from that we where very much left alone and everyone walked around the streets as normal. We saw activity behind some windows and men walking into and out of them bold as brass.
In the evening we returned and the picture was different. The weather definitely was not on our side but the streets where light up and there was plenty of beautiful women wearing very little. The rain hadn’t dampened the spirits of people still walking around into and out of coffee shops into and out of windows. Not all of the women where beautiful but in one of the tourist pamphlets i can remember them boasting about “meeting the requirements of clients and fulfilling any kink”. There where women there of all shapes, sizes, colours, abilities and wearing a whole range of outfits from beachwear to costumes to very very little.
The Red Light District is not the sleazy place any of us where expecting and in that sense you could say it was a little bit of a let down but times change and peoples attitudes change and a group of 5 girls felt equally as safe walking through the streets at midnight as we did at midday.
We took the train down to The Hague and took in the beautiful surroundings and buildings. The Hague is home to the many HQ’s of multinational countries ad has been called the epicentre of international peace and justice. It is a very charming city. There are countless terraces situated all over to stop for a coffee or food and due to their rather sound climate these open spaces are generally always thriving.
Just a short tram ride away from the centre of The Hague Scheveningen is a seaside area with a gorgeous sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a more restaurants than you can imagine. You could eat out there somewhere different every night for a month and there would probably still be places you haven’t tried. Its is the only beach I’ve ever been to in Holland therefore there is no competition in it being my favourite one.
The House of Anne Frank
Everyone knows who Anne Frank is (at least i think everyone has at least heard the name if not the basic story). We had hoped to go on the tour of her house and at just €9 each we didn’t think it was all that expensive. We thought this and so did every other tourist in the whole of Holland or at least that is what it felt like. We followed the map and my fairly weak sense of direction and found the house on the side of the canal at Prinsengracht. We found the house and the 200 people deep queue at about 1630, aching, sleep deprived and some of us on the verge of being very hungover from the night before we decided to head to the museum first thing the morning after. Its opens at 0900 and we aimed to get there for this time.
The morning after and a 9 hour thunderstorm later we headed back to the museum huddled under umbrellas and wearing glowing blue ponchos. Still tired and now extremely wet we sighed a relief when we saw only a short queue. The closer we walked and headed to join the end of the queue we saw what we thought was the end to only be a small break in the queue which turned the corner and lined the side of the neighbouring building, tracing this queue along it turned yet another corner and began to line the side of the neighbouring canal. The queue must have been 350 if not 400 deep at 0915! We where sorry to miss it and definitely want to go back and do it in the near future, I believe the key is to prebook your tickets online a fact we where aware of before hand but never did.
“I can shake off everything as i write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
– Anne Frank
All in all our trip was fantastic and I could write about it for hours. I have seen Holland in a new light and loved every minute of it even managed to learn some new stuff along the way!