We arrived in Amsterdam at 5:00 AM and walked to our hostel from the bus. We immediately fell back asleep and woke up for our tour at 11:00 AM.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city – something I did not expect as all I had heard about Amsterdam involved marijuana and the Red Light District. It has so much character and history. The city started as a trading port and immediately grew. The Red Light District was a product of its environment – a bunch of sailors only in town for a day or two looking to have fun. I just absolutely loved walking around the city looking around. The city looks very similar to what it used to look like as the government made it illegal for people to tear down the facades of their houses; you can only renovate the inside of your house. The product of this law is a beautiful city.
Something else I learned on our tour was that people pay taxes on the width of their houses, so the houses are very narrow. I even saw a house that was only one meter wide!
The “Coffee Shop” next to our hostel. I didn’t smoke during my time in the city, but the humor wasn’t lost on me!
The city was so picturesque
This was taken on the sidewalk right in front of a church! It’s not something I ever would have expected to see in front of a religious establishment, but we are in Amsterdam!
There are canals everywhere in Amsterdam!
The canals made for beautiful pictures
The houses are so unique looking
Group photo with a small version of the “iamsterdam” sign
Bikes & a canal
I could not believe how beautiful the city was
After our tour, some of us went to the Anne Frank House. Unfortunately for me, it involved climbing ladders so waited for my group to go through before we met up for a night tour of the Red Light District. This was very interesting as I learned a lot about the history of the industry as well as the Red Light District. In the year 2000, prostitution was legalized in Amsterdam and is now a fully taxable industry. The girls rent out their windows for €75 to €150 a night and pay taxes.
Red Light District
Amsterdam at Night
I also was surprised to learn that Amsterdam is trying to improve its reputation. The government is buying windows from the Red Light District and allowing upcoming designers to display their clothes in the windows. They bought back something like 61 windows for €51 million. There are also movements to make it illegal for tourists to smoke weed. I don’t see this happening as the marijuana industry pumped €4 billion of revenue into the Netherlands last year alone. That would be a huge blow to the Amsterdam tourist industry.
On Wednesday morning, I ate a really good waffle covered with chocolate icing and sprinkles.
Breakfast of Champions
After my delicious breakfast, I took a canal cruise around Amsterdam and had a blast. I saw one of the main ports of Amsterdam and our boat even went out onto the sea.
Houses on the water
Smallest house in the world – only 1 meter wide
Wide open canal
Bicycles lined up along the canal
After the cruise, it started to pour, so I went back to my hostel and hung out in the bar with a few of my fellow travelers. It only rained for about an hour, so after it stopped raining I bought my souvenirs and walked around Amsterdam for a bit.
That night I went with a few people to a pancake place called “De Carousel.” It was so cool. It was basically a restaurant that revolves around a merry-go-round. The pancakes were phenomenal. I had “The Carousel” which consisted of one pancake with cherries, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, melons, pineapples, vanilla and strawberry ice cream, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. It was so good that words cannot do it justice. It was the perfect way to end my visit in Amsterdam.
The best pancake I’ve ever had!
Note: This post was originally published on March 31, 2011 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe” which chronicled my study abroad experience.
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