Anyone who knows me well, won’t be shocked to see my first ever blog post is about Amsterdam!
Amsterdam, or just Dam as I so fondly call it. This place attacks all your senses at once, it can be a mind over load and at times harassing, yet serenity can be found down a quiet canal or at one of over thirty parks at the drop of a hat. I love every bit of it, my favourite city in the whole world. I have visited on nine occasions and every single time has been completely different. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of it, in fact, I’m bloody obsessed!
I am not one to return to the same holiday destination repeatedly, I am eager to see the world and all it has to offer and am constantly yearning for that next experience. But Amsterdam and the Netherlands has a strange hold, for me it is comforting and familiar, yet totally mesmerising and mysterious, there is always something new round every corner and an unexpected experience, how am I supposed to resist!? Don’t worry, I’ve managed to break free and visit a few other places in my time, and many more on the horizon. Phew!
One thing I love about Dam, it caters for every mood and taste, no matter what time of day or year it is, there literally is something for everyone. Amsterdam is a European city which in general, are not cheap. However, it can be done on a budget in relative terms if you know how, keep your eyes peeled for my blog ‘Amsterdam on a Budget. Alternatively, if you want to live the life of a King, this can be done well and in decadent style. You can spend as much as you like in Amsterdam depending on how indulgent you are feeling and the amount of paid tourist activities you want to do. Incidentally, we went to Amsterdam on our Mini-Moon in July 2012 and spent, in our terms, a fortune – but had the time of our lives.
People who haven’t yet taken the plunge and visited Amsterdam are always intrigued, regardless of their opinions and assumptions of what lies in this mysterious land. Some people, (usually those scared ones who visit the same holiday destination each year 😉 ) have a vision of a dark, seedy, unsavoury hell hole with drugs scattered all over the streets and sex workers jumping on you for a quick buck (how utterly ridiculous! Honestly, I’ve heard it all). Obviously those vile tabloid TV programmes in the UK about Brits and nightlife in Amsterdam don’t help these fears at all. It’s a real shame because all this can actually be avoided very easily. No one will force you to walk through the RLD or smoke a joint, you actively have to choose to do this!!! Even if half of these people will never open their mind and visit through lack of information and fear, they will always remain intrigued and ask about it! The advice I give to people is to be streetwise, know your environment, local laws and customs and act accordingly – but this goes for ANYWHERE in the world. Maybe coming from London I am already programmed to be streetwise and take it for granted.
Yes, this country has more open minded and tolerant policies, some would even say ahead of the time and more clever than the rest of the world. I do intend on writing a post about this, but in the meantime a quick google search can give you a better understanding with facts and figures, if you care to do so. Yes, anyone can walk through the RLD and see sex workers trying to lure in their prospective clients in a surreal and open manner. Yes you can walk into a coffee shop and buy a certain amount of soft drugs. Everywhere in the world has drugs and a sex trade, except here it is in a more controlled environment and in my opinion is therefore safer and monitored. I think it is actually less seedy and dangerous than a more underground environment such as the RLD in Paris or London. Better the devil you know I say. Saying that, as anywhere in the world, especially cities – Amsterdam can be as safe or as dangerous as you make it, and it must be taken seriously. Usually the people who become ‘victims of Amsterdam’, and there are many, get totally over excited, drop their inhibitions and don’t respect themselves or the environment they are in. Watch out for a blog about safety and enjoyment in Amsterdam soon.
Then there are the people who have always dreamed of Amsterdam, they want to see everything. They dream of the strolling through the cobbled streets and endless, magical canals, admiring the lit bridges and wonky houses at night. They imagine cycling through the hustle and bustle, seeing a Van Gogh masterpiece, sitting drinking coffee with the locals wandering around markets. Maybe even take a day trip to a neighbouring city such as Leiden or Utrecht, a bit further field visiting the Windmills and scenery in and around Kinderdijk or if visiting in Spring, the vast array of tulip fields. Not forgetting the adult side with the sex and coffee shop scene that they JUST can’t get their head around and can’t wait to explore! They tap my brain for all the secrets, the must sees, the beautiful sights and the downright weird and surreal. They are excited and can’t wait to go and explore. These are the people I love telling my tales to, because once upon a time I was one of these people. In many ways I still am, I can never get enough and always looking for that next Dam adventure!