When you are a tourist visiting a place like Amsterdam for the first time, there are always things about the city that you may not have thought. Hopefully this article will help pull back the veil on some of those things and give you some insights into what are “must see’s”, while you are there.
DON’T go to coffee shops for coffee, they actually rarely sell coffee them. What you will find there is marijuana (although I am sure you knew that already). These shops were introduced in the 1970s in order to keep the soft and hard drugs separated. The most popular one, The Bulldog is a chain placed around the streets of Amsterdam, as much as a McDonald’s is in New York. So if you are looking for a cup of coffee, you might just want to go to a Starbucks!
DO go on a bike riding tour to see more of the countryside. I wanted to spend some time away from the hustle of the city and check out some of its natural beauty. This is a great option, because you have someone leading you around the outskirts of the city who can teach you something about the place as you ride around. An even bigger plus is that you wont have to worry about getting lost! If you are not into tours and are good with maps (unlike myself) you can rent a bike and venture out on your own. On my tour, I saw residential towns, canals and of course windmills! The scenery is at times spectacular and it certainly made my trip feel more authentic.
DON’T take pictures in the Red Light District. The area is exactly what you picture from movies and stories. Narrow streets lined with glass doors allowing you to see half naked women standing around waiting for someone to come into their room. It is obviously not something you see often, so many tourist try to take photos but I am warning you.. don’t!! Not only are there signs everywhere, you are being watched. The men that work with these women (also known as pimps) stand on the rooftops and walk through the streets making sure you don’t take any photos. If they spot you, they will approach you. You might not see them but they are around and I promise, you wouldn’t want that happening to you. I saw some of these men and they are pretty intimidating looking!
DO take a cruise on the canal. This is a great, relaxing way to see different parts of the city. We also had a guide that told us a lot of interesting facts and pointed out specific landmarks such as the Anne Frank House. When I started my tour it was still light and as we went on I got to see the awe inspiring sight of the sun setting over the city and turn to night. In addition to this I also received two drinks, so I observed everything while relaxing with a lovely glass of wine. Bliss!