I came to Amsterdam determined to do four things: see the windmills, visit the Anne Frank House, do a canal cruise and see the tulip gardens. I pretty much accomplished all of the them except for seeing the tulip gardens and actually getting a chance to visit the Anne Frank House. The drive from the Dutch countryside to Amsterdam made it possible for me to see numerous windmills along the way and during the canal cruise we passed the Anne Frank House but the lines were ridiculously long and due to time restrain I was unable to return and tulips are out of season. Next trip I guess.
We started off the day with a canal cruise that included commentary from a local guide. The tour was very tranquil and highlighted the major attractions such as the Anne Frank House, the dancing houses, and the houseboats. I must say the cruise provided for a very pleasant morning as the guide mainly stressed the importance of Emperor Maximilian to the Dutch. I actually did not know much about the topic so it was interesting ,however, I must say I was very distracted since this was my first canal cruise in Europe so I just wanted to enjoy it and take pictures.
In retrospect, I did learn a lot from the cruise. For instance, the story behind the houseboats which turned out to be quite ironic. Occupants of house boats were initially the poor who could not afford to pay rent and for land but now they are very exclusive and expensive. THE IRONY!!!
The canal cruise ended at the diamond factory which we then visited. This part of the excursion was not of any particular interest to me as it is simply not my thing and I can’t afford to buy such expensive diamonds at the moment and all the workers did was pitch the diamonds to us. Nonetheless, I examined the exhibits and took a few pictures. I even made my own tile at the bookstore.
After the canal cruise and diamond factory we had free time to roam around before heading to Germany. Coincidentally, we were in the center of Amsterdam which is right by the infamous Red Light District. Historically, Red Light Districts have been areas in known for prostitution, brothels and sex shops. Normally I would not be so eager to visit such places but I was quite curious to see what goes on after hearing so many stories. Apparently, “window shopping” and “coffee shops” do not mean the same thing in Amsterdam as they do everywhere else. In Amsterdam, window shopping means taking your pick of the sex workers who are on display in window store fronts and coffee shops do not sell coffee instead it is a place for smoking weed. I was totally unaware of this! Even though I did not go to window shop I did enjoy the vibe of the area. The smell of weed was nauseating lol and there was at least two sex shops on every block.
Some might find visiting the Red Light District to be a bit strange but I truly believe in getting the full experience and it was a learning experience. Next time I am in Amsterdam I would like to visit it at night.
In conclusion, Amsterdam was a fun and informative experience. I learned a lot in the day that I was there and was able to make a lot of connections. It reminded me of previous Dutch imperialism and influence. I also forgot that Holland was the home of clogs and wooden shoes that were as protective shoes when doing work that involves heavy labor. Practically all souvenir shops had them. I taught of buying a pair but I have no practical use of them.
As a parting sign, while leaving Amsterdam we saw the De Otter windmill which is the last of its kind. It was actually the biggest and better windmill we have seen in all of the Netherlands.
My bucket list for my next trip to Amsterdam is go to the I AMSTERDAM sign, visit the tulip and flower gardens, go into the Anne Frank House, and visit the Red Light District. The fact that I did not get to do everything gives me plenty of reasons to return. So I will be back in Amsterdam!