“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”
This is the world’s most enthusiastic bike riding city. A rare sight I get to see in my own country, mainly because we lack the infrastructure and the crazy tropical heat just doesn’t fit. Amsterdam, like Berlin is a city famous for its eccentricity; the art, nightlife, cannabis culture and other debaucheries – a city that knows how to blend them all into an endearing European city.
It’s a wonderland for adults, like Disneyland to kids and kidults. Chock full of things to do and coming from a place with strict and oddball rules, Amsterdam will give you an opportunity to experience the darker side of life. Even a mini act of rebellion makes you hunger for more.
Amsterdam has something for everyone – from a bulwark of constitutional and intellectual freedom, to a refuge for drug addicts and drug culture. It’s hard not to claim this city as the “Sin City” for its infamous De Wallen or The Red Light Districts because that’s what Amsterdam is globally known for. A place that lets you unleash your wild side but still let you get out from the mess alive.
Things To Do
Musé Du Sexe. I’m not really into raunchy adventures, seeing genitalia so openly was a very weird experience for me but I had a great time laughing and trying to manifest my great interest in kitschy, kinky and fascinating exhibition. Interesting, sickening at some point, and most definitely the perfect place for your first date.
Wander around. Wander along the canals and intersecting streets filled with interesting shops, cafes, coffee shops and great restaurants. Discover the most traditional part of Amsterdam like the Jordaan area, explore the ‘Negen Straatjes’ and stroll along the monumental canal houses on foot.
Dam Square. The busiest meeting point in Amsterdam which conveys the hustle and bustle of the city’s main square. This square is located in the historical heart of the city, a place that is impossible to miss. On the north side of the square, you will find the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). The famous Madame Tussaud’s Museum is located on the south side of the square. The east side of the square is where the National Monument located – a commemoration for the fallen soldiers and members of the resistance who died during WWII. The Dutch Royal Palace will be on the west side, a majestic palace built in the 17th century.
Rijksmuseum. Slightly overpriced and probably the most expensive museum I’ve been to in Europe, especially for a not-so-art-enthusiast like me. I paid €17.50 for a 10-min trip because honestly, as much I enjoy visiting museums, I don’t really know how to indulge in paintings and sculptures. I have to admit, this is one of the most beautiful and worthy museums I’ve been so far. It’s huge and it housed great paintings like The Night Watch, The Feast of Saint Nicholas and Portrait of Johannes Wttenbogaert (paintings that I’m familiar with).
Coffeeshops. When my local friend said we’re heading to a coffee shop, I naively thought it was a coffee shop, you know where people drink coffee and stuff. I didn’t know it means something else in Amsterdam. I wasn’t excited because I don’t drink coffee and we just had our lunch so I was like why are we going for a drink, again. Before entering the “coffee shop”, I had to show my ID and when you walk long enough in Amsterdam, your nose is pretty much infused with all sort of smells – food, coffee, cigarette smoke, weed smell etc. I was still very confused but once I entered the place, the first whiff explains it all. I’m not sure if it’s morally OK to say this but it’s a great way to unwind yourself. So leave your concerns at the door and enjoy the refreshing puff, legally.
De Wallen (The Red Light Districts). Amsterdam has embraced everything that is considered sinful and turned it into its forte by making it systematic and orderly. This is the most visible and exhibited prostitution area, making it one of the largest tourist attraction. Walking through the streets and alleys where peepholes, brothels and sex shops are being displayed openly and are not an offense, I didn’t really know how to react to the exposition. I encountered a lot of males that displayed vivid excitements, obviously. Interesting experience I must say and I urge everyone not to be judgmental, just enjoy what you have to see with an open mind.
Drinks. It’s well known that the Dutch like to get a little intoxicated and their reputation for partying is largely earned. It was somewhere under 5º the night I was in town, everyone was out drinking in the cold… like literally drinking in the open. Not the best thing I’ve done but the experience was surely something new. Enjoy a drink or two, and feast the eyes on the many wonderful sights of this city. It’s very pretty at night.
Shop & Eat. Shopping during the Christmas time is fun, not only things are cheap, the atmosphere is very exciting. The Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat are the main shopping streets in Amsterdam. I believe Kalverstraat is the busiest of all shopping streets and it goes across the city center. These shopping streets in Amsterdam are also full of small shops with unique imported brands and artisans. It has plenty of Argentinian restaurants too offering great food like the best steak in town.
Stroopwafel. This is hands down, the best snack ever. Caramel filled thin crunchy waffles that tastes like heaven. Stroll through any busy Dutch market, and you will smell the delicious confections long before you actually see them being made. Placing a stroopwafel on top of a hot mug of coffee makes the caramel ooze from between the waffle-shaped layers – like how the Dutch do it.
Amsterdam, the city that boasts the most organized sinful indulgence and where sex, which is considered a taboo in most of the cities and countries across the world, is just a way of life over here. A city that will spike your adrenaline rush and tickle your curiosity. Probably one of the best places to discover your dark side and unearth your iniquitous nature. I probably have advertised Amsterdam in the wrong way or I’ve made it sound like the city of debauchery, but these are in fact things that make Amsterdam a unique and one of a kind city, and what it is known and remembered for. Is it really a sin city or a city of freedom? Well, you decide.