We arrived into Amsterdam shortly after 11:00 PM as we took a train from the airport to the city center. We immediately went to our hostel to drop our bags off before heading out to walk around the city since so much of Amsterdam comes alive at night. We wandered down streets adjacent to the Red Light District and wound up stopping by a hostel bar at a hostel I stayed at about 7 years ago. At about 2:30 AM, we headed back to the hostel and called it a night.
The following morning, we took a walking tour of the city which touched on the entire city’s history. We learned about how the city was modernized and developed by one of Napoleon’s successors who strategically filled in canals to create more walking areas for people. We also learned about the strange history of the city when it comes to prostitution and drugs.
The city was a large port for sailors who, after spending months on the water, wanted to seek the company of women. Per the Catholic Church, having relations with a prostitute is obviously not accepted. The Catholic Church set up right next to the Red Light District so people could go to confession afterward and seek forgiveness, which was granted after paying a small amount of money to buy yourself back into God’s good graces.
This corruption was unacceptable, but isn’t too far away from how the government handles marijuana and other recreational drugs that are not deemed to be overly dangerous. In the 1970’s, the city of Amsterdam had a huge heroin epidemic which crippled the city. Needles were everywhere and the city wasn’t safe. In an effort to curb this, the city began to give drugs to all citizens that would help wean them off heroin. Eventually it worked, but during this time the police were so busy on focusing on things that were matters of life or death that they stopped going after people that sold or bought marijuana. This continued to the point where the city decided it should no longer be acceptable on the street. People began opening “coffee shops” where they sold marijuana and the police just continued to look the other way because, even though it is technically illegal, it is decriminalized.
After the tour, we tried to go to the Anne Frank House, but it was sold out so we decided to go to take a leisurely walk to the Heineken Experience.
Before we entered the Heineken Experience, we decided to stop at a pancake restaurant I visited the last time I was in Amsterdam which was next to the entrance to the tour.
With our bellies full, we headed to the Heineken Experience to take the tour. All in all, it was hugely disappointing. It was so crowded you couldn’t hear the tour guides and the exhibits weren’t very informational.
After the tour, we met up with the guide from the morning’s walking tour for a tour of the Red Light District. We learned a bit about how it works (the girls rent a room for about €150 for 8 hours) and how they prostitutes look out for each other. We also walked down the main stretch of the Red Light District which was so crowded you could barely move. The city is slowly trying to close it down by gentrifying the area (adding cheese and chocolate shops), but it still remains a seedy tourist destination.
It started to rain during the tour so our guide cut it short, so Eric and I grabbed dinner at an Asian to-go place which has locations all over the world, Wok to Walk, and brought it back to our hostel. When the rain slowed down, we decided to go see the 11:00 PM showing of Venom at a local movie theater. We got back to our hostel at about 1:30 AM and decided to hang out for a bit at the hostel bar. A bit turned into a while and, before we knew it, we were on our way to a bar to see the McGregor fight at 6:00 AM! While the result was disappointing, the night was a lot of fun.
The following morning, we slept until about 12:30 PM, grabbed breakfast & headed to take a canal tour of Amsterdam. It truly gives you a better appreciation for the city when you see it from that angle.
After the tour, I went to buy a painting from a street artist before we grabbed our bags and headed to the train station for our trip to Paris!