The first time I came to Cologne Germany, my boyfriend wanted to show me as much of Europe as he could in the short 3 months I was there. The first trip we took was to Amsterdam. It’s only a two hour drive from his house. I’ve been a few times now, so I think I have a sufficient knowledge to share with you.
Amsterdam is known for is lax laws on drugs, very open sexuality and prostitution. While those facts are true, there is so much more to this city than the stereo types!
Naturally being in Amsterdam I had to go to a coffee shop. My first choice was “The Bull Dog no. 90” simply because it was the first coffee shop to open in Amsterdam, in 1975. It’s not a very big place, but it has so much character, life and is always packed! It was so full that my boyfriend and I had to sit outside on the bench. Which felt really weird at first, but after you realise it’s okay you can enjoy the view of the canal and people watch. I instantly felt at home there. The outside is obviously pained in a bright colourful mural, but amongst all the art I found Vancouver, Canada! Then when I went inside they had Canadian flags hanging. Upon doing research while writing this I found out that the also have a hotel in Vernon BC! Additionally, they have hotels in Amsterdam and a few other coffee shops around town. During my visits I went to other coffee shops, but honestly none of them can compare. The staff is super nice, speak perfect english and are very knowledgable and helpful! If you are ever in Amsterdam I highly recommend that you check this place out!
After going to the bulldog we started to wander around the city, of course we got lost but that’s okay! We ended up wandering into a residential area and it was so damn cute! Going there helped me gain a different perspective on the city. There was kids toys lying around, no tourists, it was so peaceful and had so much character! I can see why people want to live there! When you’re in the city center you are overwhelmed with tourists and extremely tacky souvenir stores with cheap bongs, t-shirts and other ridiculous things. Once you get out of that gongshow it almost feels like a different city. It’s the same architecture and canals, but a completely different vibe. The best was that I can describe it is cute and peaceful.
Also during our wandering we stumbled into the red light district. That was very strange for me and I honestly didn’t know what to think about it. The girls were just standing in windows almost naked, chatting, texting and some of them trying to seduce the men walking by. There was also sex stores with crazy toys in the windows and people were just walking down the street with their kids like there wasn’t a huge dildo in the window right at the kids eye level. To me that was so weird and kinda uncool. But that’s part of the culture there. So that’s something you have to be open too.
Another place worth mentioning is Zeeburg camping! I freaking love this place! When ever I go to Amsterdam I always stay here. It’s an awesome camping spot on an island (No boat required you can drive there). It’s just outside of the city, about 15 minute train ride to the city center. The trains run all the time and the stop is close the camping site. (The train pass is cheap) The campsite has places to put tents, campers and also has cabins and wagons for rent. Additional awesome features the place has to offer are: an outdoor hostel style kitchen, free laptop/cell phone charging, kayak and bike rentals, beautiful nature being an island, a grocery store, restaurant and many clean facilities. Overall if you don’t mind being out of the city center and “roughing it” a bit, even though you can rent a cabin, this is a great option. It’s quite affordable, the staff are super nice, it had a great laid back atmosphere and has many amenities that the city center can’t offer. Of course if you’re looking for a huge party place, I’m sorry this isn’t it, you should probably look into a hostel in town.
I truly think no mater what you see on tv, movies or hear from other people you can never really know Amsterdam untill you are there. There is just something about this place, the city truly has its own vibe and there is no other place in the world like Amsterdam.