The final leg of the journey brought us to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. Still hungover off the sun filled cities of Lisbon and Madrid, it was time to get the thicker jackets out as wet and windy Amsterdam greeted us. A day is all we had in this controversial city. A day to soak in the history and the neon lights. What people write and share their visit to Amsterdam, is usually how it is. The legalized drugs, the relaxed approach to prostitution draws a rowdy audience that can ruin your visit. The trick is to keep your mind open, and your wits with you as you may get hit by a speeding Dutchman on a bicycle.
We arrived at Schipol Airport early evening, which left us time to head to our cozy hotel to freshen up for our first and only night in Amsterdam. Uncharacteristically, we sat down at a standard tourist trap, Italian restaurant as our bellies were begging for food. I have always been against these establishments as they offer mediocre food at a high price, but we surrendered to our needs. No deserts taken, we quickly headed out in to town.
‘‘There were no boundaries to what you can see’
The smell of marijuana engulfs us as we walk through coffee shops after coffee shops. It’s still surreal how weed is openly distributed as if it was alcohol. The dark undertone of partaking in such substance were removed and replaced with normality. We may or may not have sampled the wares. Well, ‘when in Rome‘ as they say. We were moving towards the red light district and as a couple, we kind of knew what to expect. The red light district was busy, with all kinds of tourists around. Like the drugs, prostitution and sex are not taboo in this place. A street lined with half naked ladies openly advertising themselves through a glass window. I hope they had heaters on in there was definitely a nip in the air. There were sex booths where you could view peek shows, to full sex shows with live actors. There were no boundaries to what you can see. It was 2 Euros for a 2 minute peek show and we decided to see what the fuss is about. As a couple, we were able to stay in a booth together. There was a ‘model’ in what I can only describe as a shoebox room. She was not clothed and the rest, you can imagine. After our booth expired, we were done.
No photos are allowed within the red light district therefore to experience it, you must visit yourself 🙂
With all the views taken in and the walking, we decided to head to the hotel and rest for the next day. We took a quick stop off at the bakery and tried the much recommended waffle. Best waffles I have ever had.
Morning came and breakfast eaten, we checked out and left our baggage in the hotel. We had around 8 hours to take in Amsterdam during the day. The weather was miserable and rain occasionally fell. We were limited to what we could see. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as our spending money has reached its reserves. We walked towards the city centre once more to see it in the day. They call Amsterdam the Venice of the North with its canals and bridges, it’s hard for me to argue this claim.
We wandered through the Royal Palace and Centraal Station, which showcased the city’s grand architecture.
With the last of our cash, we decided to go on the ‘Lover’s Canal Cruise’. Hopping on a charming canal boat, it took us around the little water alleys of Amsterdam, from the glamorous Jordaan to Anne Frank’s house. Listening to the tour guide’s history lesson, it was fascinating how Amsterdam was built from a small fishing town to one of the most important port cities in Europe.
Curtains inevitably came to our fun filled Euro Trip. It was time to fly back home and go back to the 9-5 grind. I regret only booking 1 day in Amsterdam. I feel that it offers a lot more than we saw and experienced. Dodging speeding bikes on designated lanes, paying 2 Euros to watch a 2 minute peek show through to chilling out in coffee shops. I must admit, we made the most of our 24 hours in the city. This city is one for me to return very soon.
This trip was tiring for sure, with the traveling in between and the walking throughout. It was non stop from the time you wake up to the moment you laid your head in bed. I loved it nonetheless, it was an experience in itself as this is the first time I had done more than 2 countries in one trip. It also won’t set you back in terms of money. As long as you built a solid foundation on cheap flights and accommodation, the rest is simple. Just build a plan what you can afford, do your research and eat smart. Time will also be your enemy as you quickly run out of it. With only having several days in each city we had to be realistic with our plans. We only visited what we really wanted to see. That concludes our memorable trip to Lisbon, Madrid and Amsterdam. I hope I can do another multi city trips like this. An experience of a lifetime.