The few nights we had in Amsterdam were nowhere near enough. It is an amazing city. There are so many museums you’d probably need closer to two weeks to see them all. There are certain places you need to book well in advance as they book out very quickly. If you’re planning a trip there then I’d check out all the museums and their booking needs during this planning as it may impact your plans.
The Anne Frank House is one of these. They have various types of tickets and the normal tickets were sold out a couple of months before we left. My travelling companion found a different type of ticket where they take you into a room and tell you all about Anne, her family, the type of world she was growing up in and also about how they hid away. Then you get a chance to walk around the actual house and see how little room they had and understand how quiet they had to be in order to not be heard. These tickets were also hard to get and we ended up outside the building holding our tickets after dinner. When we got out it was around 10pm and they were reminding people they were closed. Seeing as it was summer the sun hadn’t left the sky and it felt like it was more like 3pm. I do suggest doing what I didn’t and rereading the book before going in there, you’d have a totally different appreciation of how much of a challenge it was for them. In case you want to buy the Anne Frank book it’s available here.
We also had a wander through the Rijksmuseum. That was amazing. If you’re a Terry Pratchett fan you’ll love it. We got to get up close and personal with Rembrandt’s The Night Watch painting which is on the front cover of Pratchett’s book Night Watch. We took many photos and compared seeing this painting with the Mona Lisa in The Louvre. The crowds were much smaller for Rembrandt and it was much easier to get through to see it from the ‘up close and personal’ area of the rope. The Mona Lisa I only managed to see when the gaps created by people’s heads allowed. The inside of the building housing Rembrandt’s work is also beautiful, photos don’t do it justice.
If you love this painting so much that you’d like to see it in 3D and interact with it then this has been made possible. If you go to the Rembrandtplein there is a larger than life 3D version and I was able to really get up close and personal here.
The Red Light district is not to be missed. Why am I promoting this? Good question and I don’t really have an answer. Our hotel was only a few minutes walk from the Amsterdam station and during our time we found we were actually in the middle of the Red Light district. The buildings housing the ladies were quite obvious as there were red lights over the windows/doors and when they were turned on there was someone available. But they were only in certain streets and I saw absolutely no problems. We were told not to take photos in these streets as that can be dangerous.
The other thing I noticed is the ready availability of cannabis. Walking into any tourist trap to buy souvenirs cannabis was on sale. The loaded biscuits were most prominent, as was the little canisters with laughing gas. You could buy a small canister with laughing gas and eight balloons for only a few euros, I didn’t. What was a little more hidden, as in they were to be found at the back of the shop rather than the front, were the toys with genitalia. Not sex toys, but little toys you’d put on your mantlepiece as a souvenir. Not that I’d bring them into my home but I was astounded at how easy they were to buy. I was told about cafes where you don’t get coffee and the cake is laden with cannabis.
We were there at the best time. Asparagus is a specialty and it was plump and delicious. I chose an entree based on asparagus in Amsterdam and I didn’t regret it. I’ll be watching out for white asparagus when it comes into season here. I wish I’d been able to buy some to cook and eat but we had no cooking facilities in any of our hotels throughout Europe. Often we didn’t even had a kettle for making coffee.
Something easily apparent throughout Europe but more so in Amsterdam were bicycles. They were absolutely everywhere. There were few cars and the drivers were careful of pedestrians but not the cyclists. They seemed to ignore road rules, making pedestrians be really careful. Every canal crossing had at least a dozen bikes parked on it and there were many more parked everywhere else. So, so many.
If you’re there take a canal cruise. Well worth it, you get to see the city from the water and are given some history of various houses as you go by. I love boats.
Despite the physical closeness to the Red Light district and the ready availability of cannabis I felt very safe throughout Amsterdam. The only thing I felt unsafe about was which way to look when crossing roads and that’s because in Europe they drive on the other side of the road to Australia.