Amsterdam is a surprising town.. The surprise comes in when you’re walking down a normal street and find yourself walking pass shop windows full of prostitutes right next to a tourists’ souvenir shop. Or when you walk into a “coffeeshop” and are greeted with the scent of something not quite coffee (you know what I mean). But once you come to grips with the fact that these things are legal in Amsterdam (and other parts of Europe), you find that it’s actually a pretty cool place to visit. Minh and I let ourselves wander.. taking in the sites, eating food and drinking lots of beer.
There are tons of museums in Amsterdam, big and small, but the two that were absolutes on my list were The Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Unfortunately, not a ton of pictures for these two places since photography is not allowed inside, but you can get a glimpse of the outside. I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank as a kid, marvelling at the ability for so many people to live in such a confined space of a small attic. In reality (and to my mutual relief and disappointment), the “attic” is much bigger than I imagined as a kid. It was actually a whole annex of the building, with multiple rooms and floors – probably akin to a small apartment. I think the real struggle was in the secrecy and danger of the whole experience.
In terms of food.. we weren’t overly impressed with Dutch cuisine.. but we did enjoy a fair share of cheese samples (cheese shops are EVERYWHERE), Dutch pancakes, and french fries with mayonaise. We also managed to get in A LOT of beer while we were there. Beer from the Netherlands is just the way Minh likes it… light and refreshing lagers. Add to that the multiple “pubs” we found that served beer from all over Europe.. it was pretty awesome.
And while we didn’t partake in the Heineken Experience, we did pay a visit to the House of Bols. If you’ve never heard of Bols liqueurs or Genever, you wouldn’t be the only one. Apparently Genever has been around for centuries, and is the forerunner to (the more popular) gin. It’s not likely that I’ll be replacing my favorite gin anytime soon, but we did have quite an experience smelling and tasting the large range of liqueurs.
Overall, it was a really good weekend. If I had planned it a little better, we could have spent one of the days outside the city.. maybe visiting the tulip fields or a windmill.. but maybe something to keep in mind if we ever make it back.