I arrived for my fifth visit to Amsterdam in as many years on a Friday night . If you know Damrak, it was pedestrian gridlock.
The weekend brings in the party goers from England , Ireland and many other close lying countries . Throngs of young Englishmen on stag party weekends looking to watch live sex shows , eat magic mushrooms, smoke some weed , pay a visit to a red light girl and drink until the morning hours .
I met some poor lad from Liverpool on Saturday morning who had drank all night because he couldn’t find a hotel that had vacancies. Amsterdam on the weekend is somewhat of a controlled chaos.
Although the city offers much more than sex & weed , one only has to take a stroll thru the red light district or take a look at all the “cafes” to see what lures so many people here . Although, it seems that this is what brings so many people to the district , it appears few actually partake in said activities. Yes the cafes are bellowing out the aroma of weed and the girls are selling themselves below red fluorescent light full glass panes doors . One look around and you can see most are on a tour , if you will. It’s not so much folks want to do everything that sin city offers , it’s that you they know they can. Things are legal here and most just seem to want to experience a city of tolerance , culture and acceptance . Nobody likes being told that they can’t do something even if they don’t want to do it .
There are many other things to see and do outside of the red light district that attracts so many . The Anne Frank House , flower markets (best during tulip season), high to frugal end shopping , wonderful architecture not to mention the beautiful canals that make their way all through the city. Take a boat tour, yes a bit touristy but worth it . See and hear why the early builders erected homes on narrow footprints to save on taxes . These designers may have lead the way in early years in clever ways to utilize space to its fullest.
It truly is a melting pot of cultures also . Cuisine from all around the world can be found . Just don’t forget try some authentic Dutch cuisine . Don’t be afraid to walk into a restaurant that doesn’t look tourist friendly . Most likely it is anyway .
It is also one of the easiest cities to explore be it by foot , bike or tram. Pedestrians and bicycles rule here and if you are walking and hear one of those bicycle bells that you had as kid ? Get out of the way ! Someone is trying to get by you . The Dutch do a proper job of putting up with all of us strolling lazily along the streets , do a local a favor and let them get home on time
Have fun and enjoy .