I could go down the line of top sights to see or top things to do; but that’s been done a million times. Instead I am going to tell you a story. A story of a girl exploring Amsterdam.
If I say Amsterdam, you probably think of sex and drugs. The Amsterdam that I saw was far from this. What I saw was a picturesque city, layered in history with many stories to tell. The city was built on ship trade from the Dutch West Indies Company and with that came prostitution. I felt that it was such an oxymoron to have the Red Light District built up around a church; but in all fairness it just shows that history and tradition are intertwined in Amsterdam. As one of the only countries where prostitution is legal it became Amsterdam’s ‘thing’. It’s what people travelled to experience. The essence here is that people travel to Amsterdam for it: the statistics show that a high percentage of the prostitution clientele is foreign. So, it’s really the tourists who are keeping it alive and carving this image of Amsterdam. But, that’s a different story, just another story of Amsterdam.
It wasn’t the reason I went to Amsterdam: it’s not something that I found appealing. Of course, I visited the Red Light District; but during the day. I remember vividly walking past a beautiful flower shop and then there was a brothel. It seemed so unnatural and shocked me. Ahead there was children running around – is this really appropriate?
I enjoyed Amsterdam for the numerous other things it had to offer, especially for students, there were many free things to do. Snaking around the city are canals, a great landmark for navigating the city, meaning you can never get lost! With the canals come bridges, cluttered with bikes – the iconic Amsterdam photo. On one of the days, we cycled around the city. At first, I was apprehensive as I was certain that I was going to be taken out by a car, pedestrian or even a tram. But, the beauty of Amsterdam is that cyclists get priority on the roads; so I had nothing to worry about. I spent a carefree day cycling around the city exploring different areas, stopping for heavenly hot chocolates, all the while delving into the hidden stories of Amsterdam.
After a visit to the iconic Anne Frank Museum, her story prominent in my mind, it was the perfect time to wander around the city centre We, also, happened to stumble across this little secret courtyard garden, surrounded by small cottages. The space was called Behijnhof and held some of the oldest cottages in Amsterdam where only single ladies were allowed to live. This was tucked away from the main streets and no photos were allowed to be taken – another hidden story of Amsterdam.
There were, also, numerous museums, art galleries and boutiques hiding around every corner and the iconic I-Amsterdam letters. As the city was so small it was also easy to explore on foot. Many galleries were free to enter and displayed cutting edge as well as traditional art. One gallery delved into the meaning of the word ‘awesomeness’. It was an inventive concept that really made me think about how I use words. One of my favourite areas was Nine Street which was jammed with boutique shops as well as vintage shops; very adept for any budget!
VondleParc is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the main city centre. There’s a large concrete path around the edge of the park and multiple little pathways winding across the middle. We spent our last morning strolling around the park, exchanging stories from the trip. The trip didn’t hold one story for me; but many stories.