Amsterdam is the capital of Netherlands and a very versatile place. Whether a person is looking for history, a little partying or wants to join in on the bike riding fun, the city offers something for everyone. Amsterdam is filled with canals. 165 to be exact. This gives people the opportunity to take a cruise if they wish. It reminded me a little of Venice, Italy, but unlike Venice, cars are allowed in Amsterdam.
For Herbie’s 38th birthday, we decided to include Amsterdam in our week of vacation. Amsterdam was our third city we visited that week. The first two were Paris and Normandy. We stayed at the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel and it was centrally located. It was across the street from where the night life began and the hotel conveniently offered happy hour from 5pm to 9pm to some guests, so it was nice to pre-game before heading out.
Our first stop in Amsterdam was the Albert Cuyp Market. It is an open air market and it runs for several blocks. There, you will find souvenirs, produce, clothes and food stands. We were told that the Herring fish is a local favorite, so we set out to find it. The fish is served with onions and pickles. This was possibly my least favorite dish I’ve had in all of my European travels. It tastes the way it sounds…pickled.
The Bulldog Coffee Shop is a 5 minute walk from the hotel and that was our first stop of the night. It was karaoke night and we had a blast listening to people attempt to sing top hits and classic songs. There is a gift shop at the Bulldog and the shop offers great souvenirs. There is also a place attached to the coffee shop (like with most coffee shops in Amsterdam) that sell tobacco and marijuana products. It is acceptable to smoke marijuana in coffee shops…tobacco cigarettes not so much.
The following day, we went to the Anne Frank House. I highly recommend to purchase tickets online due to the long lines that form. We went in February when it is considered off-season and still the lines were very long. Having purchased tickets online gave us a time slot and we skipped the queue. At the Anne Frank House, we visited the Annex in which Anne and her family hid from the German Nazis. From the secret bookcase entry to Anne Frank’s room, this tour is a must see when you are visiting Amsterdam. Just walking into the room that Anne lived in, was enough to send chills down my spine. There are still posters she hung on the walls and actually seeing them in person was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will not soon forget.
After seeing the Anne Frank House we needed a drink. We went to the Heineken Brewery for the Heineken Experience. Tickets were purchased online for the experience in order to avoid the queue. The tour is that of a brewery and we learned how the Heineken beer is produced. After the tour, we went up to the roof terrace and continued drinking while listening to the DJ play.
I really wanted to see Amsterdam’s Red Light District. What can I say? I was curious. There were no pictures taken of this area as I became very uncomfortable as soon as we arrived. And let me tell you, a few things make me feel uncomfortable. Only a few. The district was definitely one of them. The women were parading themselves in front of a window and showing their goods to eager customers. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam in the hopes to regulate such activity.
Our final day in Amsterdam was spent at the Van Gogh Museum. We bought tickets online (by now, you should realize that I don’t like to spend time waiting in line). The museum showcased a lot of Van Gogh’s famous paintings and demonstrated how troubled the artist’s life was. He had a very interesting life and he expressed it through his love of art.
Amsterdam was a trip full of history and exploring. The Anne Frank House was definitely the highlight of Amsterdam for me. We left the city with a deeper understanding of what Anne Frank went through. The city is a place I wouldn’t mind revisiting. From the nightlife to the daytime ambiance, I truly enjoyed my vacation.