Amsterdam: Part ll

Amsterdam is a beautiful place, though we did not visit any tulip farms during this trip or many windmills, what we did experience was a diverse city that thrives on urban living, collections of great art and traditional sectors that still flourish.

I put my camera to work during my entire time here – I took so many pictures in attempts to capture the diversity found within this urban sprawl. Amsterdam is more than 700 years old, it is quite literally a living museum of modern and tradition melded into one. I tried my best to capture this unique blend.

The main form of transportation in this sprawling city is cycling. Amsterdam is said to be the most bicycle- friendly capital city on earth. More than half the population residing in Amsterdam commute via cycling, and it’s easy to understand why – the canal-streets are narrow and there is a lot of foot traffic found throughout the day. I did find it very strange and quite annoying to have to share the narrow sidewalks with bicyclist and motorcyclist, but since the bicycles dominate the streets, we had no choice but to simply step aside and make way for the kings of the road.

As I mentioned in my previous post – Amsterdam is a city entwined with water, a labyrinth of water canals. The Canal Ring is a unique urban landscape that has been thriving for over 400 years. A total of 165 canals and 1,200 bridges make up this urban metropolis. I loved taking pictures of the canal – i’ve never been to any other place quite like this one – it is just so nice to admire.

There are over 75 museums found around Amsterdam with the highlights being: Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Ann Frank Huis, Van Gogh Museum, Foam, and the EYE Filmmuseum to name the top museums to visit. Even though we were only going to be in town for a few days and our time here was short – we opted to visit the top 3 museums: Rijksmuseum, Ann Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum. They were all awesome and added so much depth and insight to this culturally rich city.

The Rijksmuseum was under renovations for the past decade but it still offered loads of art and history to its eager visitors. The highlight at this museum is Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”, there are many other dutch classics but this one painting in particular is the reason for most peoples visit.

Now this museum is quite special and also the highlight to our entire trip. We were fortunate enough to visit the attic where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding during the Nazi-occupied Holland. This small Dutch canal home houses a piece of history that remains preserved for travelers far and near to come and bare witness to a Holland from long ago but not forgotten.

If you plan on visiting this museum during your visit, be sure to make reservations here: https://www.annefrank.org/en/museum/tickets/ , don’t delay on reserving a spot as they are limited. This is the only museum you may be turned away from – it’s a little home and only small guided groups are allowed during scheduled times, expect to pay € 10,50 per person and wait in a long line with other eager visitors. Also, photography is not allowed at all while inside, so any memories captured will have to be solely done in your mind.

This museum was very cool, it houses over 1,400 collections of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork. It is directly across the Rijksmuseum and is the most popular and visited museum in all of Amsterdam.

Vincent Van Gogh was a very strange dude. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about him but after spending a couple of hours learning about his disturbed private life and admiring his famous sunflower paintings I left with a really good sense of why he became so famous way after his strange death. Anyone visiting Amsterdam should visit the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank Huis for sure.

The best way to travel Amsterdam on a short trip is via the Amsterdam Travel Ticket, this ticket grants you access to all public transport for one or two days – the best place to buy this ticket is right at the airport on arrival. It includes travel between the airport and any station in Amsterdam, which was pretty great for travelers like us. The one-day ticket costs €15, two-day costs €20 and three-day costs €25. You will also be provided a city map with all the top attractions. There is no reason to pass this deal up.

Once you are in Amsterdam proper, traveling on foot is the best way to take in and enjoy all of the sites. All the best places to visit are in close proximity to each other.

Speaking of close proximity – this is the oldest church in Amsterdam, Oude Kerk (old church), which was built around 1250 AD, it’s a popular tourist attraction and open to the public each after noon. The location of the church, however, is the absurdity, it’s located in the dead center of the red light district. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this.

The red light district, yes we visited (but during the day before it “opens”), is by far Amsterdam’s most notorious tourist attraction. At night, hundreds of windows showcase women young and old to the passerby’s looking to be seduced. The red light district in Amsterdam has existed since the 15th century and there is no sign that it’s going away anytime soon. The irony is that even though this place exists on dutch soil, it caters fully to foreign tourists – it is here for the tourists not the dutch. With that being said it is one of the safest areas in Amsterdam – go figure! There is always heavy foot traffic here by locals and tourists, plus police officers monitor everyones behavior at all times.

There are many “coffee shops” in Amsterdam that allow customers to purchase individual sized portions of marihuana or hash for in-store use. The dutch believe that it’s better to expose establishments like these into the open so they could be managed – same goes for the red light district.

In short, there is literally something for everyone in Amsterdam. One of our last and probably most wholesome attraction visit was to the Vondelpark. It is a space open to all the public and it made for a very relaxing walk before returning to hustle and bustle of London.

Amsterdam is quite diverse as you can see. I don’t see myself returning here and not because I didn’t like this place but because I feel content with all I saw and did. I do recognize that Amsterdam isn’t for everyone and compared to its neighboring countries, this place is quite expensive. In fact, it was much more experience than the other countries we visited. I am glad I was able to check this place out. Happy Travels!

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