Everyone I have spoken to who has travelled to Amsterdam has loved it. Having never been myself I was curious to see what it was about this charming city that made people fall in love with it. Last Thursday night myself and my good friend Noelle left Dublin for the Netherlands. We touched down about 10.30 pm and set about finding the train to the city centre. Sadly, someone had tragically taken their own life by stepping onto the railway line so there were some complications but we arrived at our hotel at about midnight.
On our first day we went for a leisurely breakfast and wondered around the centre. Almost immediately I could see why this city is so popular. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that made me like it so much but I could see the appeal. Embracing the tourist in us we went on a boat ride around the city. The architecture was interesting to look at. Most buildings are tall and extremely narrow with a sturdy metal hook jutting out from the top. It turns out the reasons for this was because there used to be a tax on the width of buildings so people built upwards as opposed to outwards. The metal hook at the top was to assist in hoisting heavy or awkward furniture etc. in and out of the buildings. This was because often the stairs were too narrow. When I look at the homes and buildings in cities like Amsterdam and Prague I wish the architecture in Ireland had a bit more character. I can’t help but think the majority of our cities look generic in comparison.
That evening we wondered around some more and were intrigued to see the red light district. There were swarms of people and I have to say it was one of the most unusual things I think I have ever seen. On reading more about it there are some sad stories as to how some women have ended up there while others are there completely by choice. Interesting to see it nonetheless.
Saturday we went to the “I amsterdam” sign which was also surrounded by tourists. People climbed daringly on the letters and more than one took some bad tumbles. We played it safe sticking to sitting in the letter ‘d’ and under the ‘m’ :). Following that, we went to the Anne Frank house. Thankfully Noelle had booked this in advance as the queues were far from short. This was one of the best things I did while in Amsterdam. The story of Anne Frank and her family is tragic and moved me to tears by the end. It was only €15 and took two hours, certainly value for money but I would definitely recommend booking beforehand.
On our third day we decided to sample some of the Dutch shopping but I behaved and only spent €5! I had certainly already spent enough by then anyway. It turned out to be a bit more expensive than I expected and a particular low point was when I was charged €11.50 for a drink. I will certainly be making a return to Amsterdam in the future but will be leaving it until late Spring or early Summer simply because I have to go and see fields full of the beautiful tulips. Unfortunately, it was a little early in the year this time round but not to worry because this gives me an excuse to go back. Also a word of warning, people on bikes will cycle into you!