“Coffee” shops, shrooms, and prostitutes: You guessed it; I went to Amsterdam. It was quite the trip. Just like every other college student abroad, I had heard plenty about Amsterdam. Most of this involved drugs and feeling higher than a high school kid on 4/20, but what isn’t mentioned enough is how absolutely beautiful this place is. Canals line all of the streets and the Christmas décor topped everything off. I was in complete awe as I simultaneously took in the sites and dodged the crazy bicyclists. Fun fact, you need a cross walk to get across the bike lane and yes, I did get clipped a few times.
I arrived in Amsterdam late in the afternoon Friday night. As soon as I stepped outside and took a whiff of the air, I knew I was in the right place. I found my best friend Erica and we were off. We went to go grab some coffee and soon were starving. It was time for the Christmas market! Amsterdam is very touristy and makes everything available to us abroad students in one spot. The Christmas market had every kind of food, treat, and souvenir one could possibly ask for. We decided to dive into the culture and try everything, starting with some chocolate drenched waffles and crepes. Yum. After stopping at a few of the corner stores and walking around a bit more, we went to the Van Gogh Museum. When we first walked in, we thought we were in the wrong place; we were very confused. They had a DJ playing, the first floor was a bar, and the walls were covered with projections of Van Gogh’s trippy artwork dancing across the walls. It was definitely a very different environment than I was expecting. Erica is a history buff and I am an art nerd so this was the perfect place for us to spend our evening. I was so entranced by the different beautiful paintings. The longer I looked at them, the more they seemed to come alive and change with every angle. It was definitely very dreamlike. I highly recommend this museum/bar if you ever find yourself playing in Amsterdam.
We couldn’t really decide what to do and kept finding ourselves walking in circles. The beautiful uniform canals definitely make this place labyrinth like and impossible to navigate for the directionally challenged like me. Eventually, after a few confused looks from the people who watched us walk past them about three times, we decided to just make our way back to the Christmas market. I was definitely not complaining though. I was very content with my white chocolate with sprinkles covered apple. Who needs alcohol when you have chocolate?
Several wrong buses later, we finally made it back to our hotel for a much-needed night of sleep. The next day, we actually woke up on time. I would say it was because we wanted to go see the historical aspects of Amsterdam, but I really think it was our need for more chocolate waffles. Oh well, whatever works. Our first stop was to the Anne Frank House. It was a failure. The online tickets were sold out and the line was wrapped over a block around. We decided to settle for a few pictures outside and an online tour. We then got some smoking hot coffee to fight off the cold and headed over to Vondelpark to relax and enjoy the day. We sat here and took in the sites and the people until we decided it was time for yet another sweet Amsterdam treat.We followed this up with a beautiful sunset canal tour. It was nice to be off of our feet and relaxing after a long day of site seeing. Here we got to see every famous building from world renowned museums to the largest floating Chinese restaurant in Europe. I’m not sure how many other floating Chinese restaurants there are in Europe, but apparently it is quite the accomplishment. That night we headed out to Dam Square to finally enjoy the nightlife. Amsterdam’s bars and clubs did not disappoint in the least.
The next morning, we woke up at 11 and quickly called down for a late check out. Around 3pm we finally made it out and knew we only had one last thing to check off of our list: The Red Light District. I knew this is where all of the fun really happened, but did not know of any specifics. As more and more sex shops appeared, I continued to ask Erica, “Is this the Red Light District?” She would shake her head and tell me I’ll know when we are there. Then I saw the red lights, but of course that’s not what gave it away. Each red light lined window held a different woman seductively posing or casually checking her phone while waiting for their next client. Yes, I snuck in some pictures, but no I’m not posting them on here because I’m still unsure how I feel about this. My initial reaction was to laugh, my typical awkward response. Then I started to feel bad. I couldn’t imagine a worse life and I didn’t understand how something like this could be legal. Later, someone brought up a good point to me. Prostitution happens in every single country, but at least here the women are safe and protected. They have licenses just like any other profession and if they are ever in danger they can have the cops there within a few minutes. I’m still not fully convinced, but it was a good viewpoint to consider. We stopped at some more souvenir shops to buy some weird Amsterdam trinkets then were on our way.
In the end, I’d say it was a pretty wild weekend. We definitely took advantage of the touristy aspects of this place and enjoyed the beautiful weather and city. The people were extremely nice and gorgeous. At every turn of the head there was another potential super model. I wouldn’t say it is the most cultural place in the world, but if you are looking for a good time, I would definitely recommend a trip here.