I just came back from Amsterdam. The streets are speckled with souvenir shops with banners proudly declaring ‘I Am Sterdam’. Unfortunately, I am not Sterdam.
Maybe it should have been obvious to me. I think that if you go to a city that is famous for drugs and prostitutes, then the entire city is built to cater for those who are interested in that kind of thing. Surprisingly as it may be, I am not interested in that kind of thing.
All I wanted was a weekend in an exciting city to look around some fascinating museums and eat some local delicacies. Instead I experienced two days of torrential rain, a constant stench of cannabis and huge groups of lads on a stag do around every corner.
And in response to the question I know you are wondering, yes I did stumble into the red light district. I was planning to have a look around at night, but instead accidentally took a wrong turning during the afternoon and found myself standing in front of a window with a very well-endowed woman trying to get people to come in.
I was really quite horrified by this famous part of Amsterdam. I thought it would be a series of ironically named strip clubs with giant cartoon phalluses hanging outside while tourists giggled to themselves. It really isn’t. It is a serious area with serious businesses and was certainly not somewhere I felt comfortable with.
“I spent hours trudging around in shoes that were not built to withstand the constant rain”
It was also near impossible to find nice food in Amsterdam. All the restaurants seem to assume that you’ll be so drunk or stoned that the taste won’t matter. As someone who only had three alcoholic beverages for my entire time there, the taste did matter – a lot. My friend and I spent most of our time there desperately searching for somewhere that didn’t think authentic Dutch cuisine meant hash cake.
We found one fairly expensive restaurant for dinner after several hours of trudging around in shoes that were not built to withstand a constant barrage of rain.
I visited a couple of nice museums – the best being House of Bols and the worst being the Resistance Museum – and had so much fun with my friend, but I don’t think I’ll be returning.